Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ASA rules against Social Media People scam AdWords campaign

An American judge talking to a lawyer.Image via WikipediaHere's another new case from the ASA's expanded remit into Digital.

There was an AdWord that read; "Social media people scam net66-the social media people AVOID this company is a scam". The ad pointed to this site. That's a "nofolow" link, by the way.

As you would expect the Social Media People were less than happy with the ad and objected. The ASA Adjudication upheld the objecting; agreeing that it breached sections 3.42 and 3.43 - imitation and denigration. The ASA noted they had not seen enough evidence to suggest the Social Media People were a scam. It was also suggested that the ad had been created by a disgruntled ex-employee.

What's the result of the ASA's adjudication? The ad may not run again in its current form.

Of course, if the ad does run again in the current form the ASA does have Google's agreement to look into the case and potentially force it offline.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Using +1 switches to game Google's PPC

I'm just off a webinar Google ran about the +1 button. To be honest, I'm a little foggy as to whether the webinar was an open to all, including bloggers, or an NDA protected agency/advertiser brief. I'll get around the problem by not mentioning any of the points Google made explicitly and just blog about a series of random and entirely unrelated ideas I've had.

When you +1 an URL then that +1 recommendation will show up in organic or paid search. These +1s may not directly impact PPC's quality score but they're likely to impact CTR. I don't think Google will normalise that increase in the way they do for higher bid positions.

In other words, if your PPC ad is promoting a URL that's had lots of +1s then that PPC ad may have a better CTR than it would have had otherwise.

The thing about +1s is that they're persistant to a URL - even if the content of that URL changes.

Perhaps the title of this blog post is wrong. It's not about "gaming" the system. It's about understanding how it works. Let's run through a scenario.

  • You're in the business of selling mobile phones.
  • You know that sometime soon - soonish, Nokia will start to well Windows Phone 7 smartphones. There's a lot of interest on whether Nokia will make this strategy work. Bloggers are discussing this. People are socially engaged with this topic.
  • You create a fun, social, content rich page on URL, that has a funny cartoon and a wish list of 10 features you would want in the first Nokia WP7 devices.
  • This fun and social page gets shared around and picks up plenty of +1s.
  • A few months later Nokia releases their first clutch of Window Phone 7 devices
  • You dramatically change the content on your funny wish list page; you turn it into a shop shelf for the Nokia WP7 phones you want to sell.
  • You fire up a PPC campaign for that URL
  • Your Google PPCs are automatically enhanced with all those sexy CTR boosting +1 recommendations.

That's just an example. It's easy to see how the bait and switch style could be used in plenty of other scenarios. You could even argue that the switch may not be necessary; why not just redesign the page to put the shop shelf options at the top and include the old content below - perhaps compare how many of your 10 wish list items made it into the first wave of phones.

Will people start to buy sites that have a large number of URLs that have had plenty of +1s? I wonder if the CTR boost will be significant enough that it becomes the basis for calculations on the monetary value of +1s.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Who has more cash? Google or the US Treasury?

The US is in a bit of a tight spot with their finances and so are many European economies. Think Progress has a fantastic research piece that points out that as of July 13th of this year – Google and the U.S. Treasury were tied for cash reserves.

Barclays Bank has more cash, so does HSBC, Mitsubishi, Lloyds, G.E., The Royal Bank of Scotland, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, and the Bank of America. In fact, 29 companies have more cash in the bank than the U.S. Treasury.

The top two are, of course, Chinese.

I suspect some people are using this to reflect on the state of global economics (while they quickly move their dollars to gold). I read this list and was just blown away by the M&A potential. Imagine someone like G.E. stepping forward all of a sudden to make some significant internet purchases or one of the banks deciding they rather liked Square and fancied owning it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flickr is blocking Google links

Yahoo's still popular photo host Flickr has a problem with Google's short URL service. Trying to include a short URL to a charity collections page today produced an error which stated since spammers had used it too often it could not be used again. I had to take the link out and replace it with the original.

This was no skin off my nose. I was using the short URL simply because it was the one skyped to me and it's useful for tracking. I replaced it with the full URL and all was well. I can imagine some media owners might be less happy if they find their domains blocked by Yahoo in this way.

Gmail testing new inbox options

File this as "new to me" as some time between this morning and lunch Gmail is now suggesting I try either the Classic inbox, Important first, Unread first, Starred first and Priority Inbox.

I get far too much email to be an inbox zero blogger. I live by my priority inbox and my sage use of stars. Right now, "Important first" seems interesting but is a little worrying in its decisions. For example, it's put a read comment from LiveJournal ahead of a direct email from a Google Engineer.

I may stick with "Priority" until Gmail gets a better grip of who's important to me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

WiTricity for your Android or iPhone 5

This video started to go viral yesterday. It's good timing; given that PayPal are making waves today with their NFC app and TED is back in the UK.

What this video shows - and it's a video from 2009 - is a TV set, a Nokia phone, an iPhone and an Android being charged by remote power. This is power without cables. This is the future.

If you're wondering why this video sprang back to life, 2 years after it was filmed, it's because of rumours that Apple was experimenting with new charging methods for 2012.

WiTricity is a trademark term too; it's a company. Frankly, it's certainly a company I imagine we'll be talking about a lot more in the near future.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Silly affiliate decisions

Lama_2329Image by Heinrichs_FJ via FlickrIt's 2011 and we're still getting weird emails from merchants. I like this particular merchant, so I'm going to censor the name and I understand why the company has taken many of the decisions it has but I don't understand this one. This one is odd. Backwards.

Dear Affiliate,

We've recently re-evaluated our affiliate programme and have decided to only continue working with our most productive partners. Unfortunately your site isn't one of these and so we will be ending your affiliation with [dramalama] on Tuesday 26th July 2011.

You will no longer receive commission from [dramalama] transactions and we ask that you please remove all [dramalama] content from your site as soon as possible. We would be grateful if you could let us know when this has been done.

I'm not sure what to say. They want to know when I remove any [dramalama] content. I could write an email like this;

Dear [dramalama] ,

I monterise my links to your site and your competitors via Skimlinks.

Removing me from your programme removes my ability to use your latest creative which help keep my banners up to date and removes me from your email notifications which have previously had a good record of giving me topics to blog about your [things dramalamas wants me to blog about]. It does not remove my ability to blog about your [dramalama transactional thingies] or link to you.

Keeping me in your programme costs you nothing.

Why would you remove silent partners? What's the benefit? I would be grateful if you could me know.

I do know there are times when affiliates need to be removed because they're in-active. If a brand re-brands or is guided by the firm hand of regulators to make significant changes to its advertising and marketing then affiliates who do not update creatives or messaging may well have to be removed. Especially when regulators are involved. This is not one of those times.

I wonder whether this presents a challenge to VIGlink and Skimlinks too? You have to apply to get into either site. My blogs are high value, true content ones, so no one can accuse either of letting some sblog into the system. But will some merchants worry about lac of control?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Author profiles will have a big impact on search

It is half sneaking under the radar in the Google+ drama but the ability for content creators to associate their Google profile with their content is a big thing.

The obvious angle here is that when a big name author writes on a smaller or new site that the content for that post is measured, partly, by the author's authority rather than just the platform's. That's an interesting spin for SEO. I've just written the phrase "author optimised" along with "with a bit of luck" and "never see" for a content submission of my own - but the truth is that author profiles will start to be very important.

A less obvious angle stems from the core principle of CTR. We've already seen how having a "{friend} shared this" markup in the SERPs is significant. What if you also recognise the larger author profile?

What if the author appears more than one for the keyword search? Surely that author is the expert on the subject matter at hand? Won't the clicks be pulled in that direction?

For example; here's a screen grab of a search - it's very hard not to notice Matt Cutts all over it. Here's an author who owns that search result even if he's not personally credited with the top two results. Frankly, it would be trivial for them to share the top two results as well - and if he was interested in personal branding in relation to the topic surely that would be a wise thing for this particular engineer to do?

P.S. What about "author authority" as a more attractive alternative to the awfully retro "author optimisation"?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The problem with emails from Google

I few minutes ago I got this automated email from Google. It prompted me to check that it really was from Google.

Despite the formatting, the seems to be from Google.

The key message is; "Your site appears to be running an older version of WordPress. Google recommends that you update to the latest release."

The site in question runs Wordpress 3.2. I upgraded the site to 3.2 yesterday. Wordpress 3.2 has been available since yesterday.

So, why this email from Google? The source code of the site says I'm running 3.2. Is Google struggling to recognise Wordpress 3.2 as the latest version of Google? Did Google quickly scan my site yesterday, in those few hours I was running 3.1 while 3.2 was available and schedule itself to email me today? Or is it something worse?

Does Google consider the Wordpress 3.2 code signature to be a negative quality signal?

I didn't have any of these concerns in my head yesterday. I do today and it's due to Google's email. That's the problem with the big G emailing people. They can create concern. I'm pleased that they do, though, and despite today's micro-drama I hope they continue to encourage webmasters to upgrade.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Socialnomics updated for 2011

The third in the Socialnomics video series is out. The original Socialnomics was a pretty big social media success. It used music from Fat Boy Slim and a series of slamdunk stats and observations to argue that social media was here to stay and should be taken seriously. As a result; social media fans spread it far and wide.

It's 2011 and I doubt anyone would argue social media isn't here to stay and isn't a significant force - though there are still probably exceptions, probably the same people who argued that blogging would be a fad. I'm not sure an update to Socialnomics is really needed but it's nice to see a refresh.

Socialnomics #3: the 2011 edit

Monday, July 04, 2011

Is this snake fight the first Heineken ad since they appointed Google as an agency?

Heineken has struck a pretty interesting deal with Google. The digital platform (that's Google; thoughts for a better description?) will be giving Heineken extra special agency-like consultation. Over at Econsultancy Patricio Robles asked Did Google just become an agency with its Heinken deal?

Edmund Lee at AdAge thinks not. He argues that it's essentially an upfront buy. Heineken have promised plenty of million in spend to Google and in exchange the big G is promising to be helpful to their agencies; folks like AKQA and Mindshare. My blog title is misleading - Google's not really Heineken's agency, they're more like an agency's agency. Or something.

I don't know if either of those two named agencies produced the ad below, I suspect not, which follows the successful "The Entrance" commerical that recieved some viral video promotion.

What do you think? As funky as The Entrance? Or do you feel the animal warefare groups beginning to twitch their internet whiskers? Perhaps Google could report on the number of negative brand messages being shared publicly on Google+.

Friday, July 01, 2011

15,000 Google+ pages indexed already

Google+ seems to be dividing opinions. I'm still in favour of it and I'll claim that people who were on the fence, after giving it a go, move to a more favourable position. This is a good sign for the project.

People are saying many things about Google+. I've not heard anyone suggest it's a content play, though. Is it? Not directly but it will certainly influence other people's content plays - as they'll want their content to surface via Google+ and Sparks.

Google+ is certainly a profile play. Even before Google+ launched it was possible to find high visibility profile results in the SERPs. As I found out exactly one month ago.

To illustrate just how quickly Google is moving to include Profile information in its thoughts I used a simple site: search command. Basic SEO from 2002.

Here's what we get.

That's right. Google+ has been running for just a few days. You could easily argue that very few sites are linking to profiles and yet there are already 15,000+ URLs indexed.