Sunday, December 30, 2012

John Dies at the End vs Piracy

This strikes me as a good solution to piracy.

There are many times I wish I had the option to legally download something because there's no way I'm going to fly to America or Japan to watch something in the cinema. I'm sure there are just as many times it doesn't make sense to do a spinny disc release in the UK.

The solution must surely be a proper online release.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Badly timed Wordpress 3.5 iframe schedule bug

This Christmas I set up a number of blog posts ahead of time to be published throughout the festive season. I made use of Wordpress's trusty schedule post feature backed up by the WP Missed Schedule plugin. This is my only blogger blog.

My strategy was to target people who were fed up of Christmas TV or perhaps even not able to get access to their TV sets in the first place. I had a line up of videos to share; long trailers, to short and free movies. It might have been a good one.

However, in a badly timed bug for Wordpress 3.5; scheduled posts are dropping iframe cals. It's been set to priority: high and severity major.

In summary, if you use an iframe to share something like a Vimeo vid, and schedule that post to go live in the future (even if it's just a few minutes later), Wordpress drops the iframe. I hear reports that the same is true for embed code too. Your post will go live without the video.

However, if you're sharing video by Wordpress's shortcode method that allows you just to reference a YouTube URL then your video will still appear.

If you've scheduled either your own posts or even client posts to appear over the holidays and had thought you'd be sharing videos - you'd best check again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Google Latitude adds location signals

I'm a big Foursquare user because I travel alone a lot. Google Latitude trails in second place but I do use it. There is no doubt that Google Local is important to me as a customer and when I put my digital marketing hat on I see Google pushing a closely coupled social-local drive in 2013.

This Google Latitude prompt is new to me. The location is pretty new so it's hard to tell off a single instance whether this prompt is due to the venue or an upgraded Latitude.

They already use wi-fi signals to get a more accurate idea of a specific location. I'm left to wonder what these additional signals might be.

I do like to see Google talking about signals. Clearly 'location signals' in this context are slightly different from the quality signals we're interested in for SEO but it's the same mindset. After the most recent quality tester guideline leak we certainly know how important location is as a ranking consideration.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Flickr tags Android Instagram as "iphoneography"

This is the morning after Instagram updated its T&Cs to be in align with Facebook's guidance. As with Facebook, advertisers can pay in order to have their message displayed alongside your photos in an ad targeted at someone else.

Plenty of people in the Instagram community don't like this. We've seen this before whenever Facebook makes a change. However, I don't think I know a single person to quit Facebook over a privacy tweak. It is beginning to look like the same will not be true for Instagram.

I've had plenty of fresh connections and activity on my Flickr page today. It might help that I've been quite liberal in cross-sharing pictures from Instagram to Flickr.

Oddly, this means I've a busy "iphonegraphy" tag.

As the yellow highlighted area above shows; Flickr has automatically (or perhaps its Instagram passing the tag to Flickr) been describing my photos with "iphonegraphy".

I've had an iPhone but none of my Instragrams have been taken with it. This tag, not set by me, is incorrect. I use an Android phone.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Crazy or clever? EasyJet "Show flights Ad"

On the 19th of December I'm flying from Edinburgh to Bristol. It turns out there are not many airlines that serve that route so I ended up booking at easyJet.

easyJet served me this ad. I'm still logged into the easyJet site.

I can't work out whether it's clever or a fail.

It could be a failure of an ad because they should have tracking in place to know that I completed that transaction on their site - even if I did shop around first.

It could be clever because, well, they know the route I was researching and know they can service it.

When I first saw the ad it looked like a check in/review flight details option. It looked like functionality rather than ad. I wondered whether or not I needed to tick more boxes to confirm my flight. I actually clicked. I think it's just an ad.

Mind you; it could be a clever retargeting third party being paid on traffic or looking to renew their tracking cookie to keep me active. If they can keep me clicking then they'll earn more revenue if I fly with easyJet again. The ad was served by Struq so I'm not sure how likely that is.

Has the FTC's antitrust investigation created a scraping economy?

In recent weeks Google has begun to crack down on commercial offerings that scrape search results data. Companies like Raven Tools and Ahrefs have made the call to stop providing this data in order to keep their AdWords API access.

If you’re an AdWords API user then, I believe, you’ve given your consent that Google can inspect your code. It appears that if Google sees the use of scraped data in there, or perhaps if it has other reasons to believe you’re engaged in SERPs scraping, then the search engine has finally started to take some hands on action.

Previously, Google’s main defense against SERPs scraping was a captcha.

Last week I speculated that Google wasn’t making this extra effort just to protect ranking data. After all, the Google Webmaster Console provides ranking data for your own website (just not that of your competitors). I wondered whether Google was increasingly interested in protecting its Knowledge Graph data too.

There are now reports that the FTC may end it’s two-year antitrust probe of Google if the search engine makes some voluntary changes. In particular; the FTC wants to see Google stop using restaurant and travel reviews from sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp.

At this stage this is all speculation.

However, if Google is limited in the data it is able to show/collect by “scraping” certain high profile sites then the search engine may be more protective of the data it shows. The difference between scraping and indexing in this scenario does begin to get a bit blurry.

The maths is fairly simple – the more rare something becomes, the more expensive it gets – and that is what may be happening with carefully ordered data. That might well explain why Google is looking to protect its own presentation of data with more enthusiasm than it has previously.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Newspaper Licensing Agency partners with the French

If you work in a PR agency, Social Media agency, buzz monitoring agency, etc, then you’ll probably have heard of the NLA.

The NLA are the people you pay when you let clients know they’ve been mentioned in a UK newspaper or website. This ruling has helped the NLA earn about £20m for their newspaper clients. The NLA is actually owned by a group of eight national newspapers.

If you’ve not encountered the NLA before and are surprised that you need to pay them a license fee for buzz monitoring and newpaper alerts then keep in mind the PR industry already tried to challenge them in the UK courts of law – and lost.

Today’s news has the NLA team up with Centre Fran├žais d'exploitation du droit de Copie (CFC). That’s the French version of the NLA. The partnership is around technology and the NLA’s eClips monitoring service. It means there will be a standard across UK NLA supporting papers and French CFC supporting papers in terms of clippings.

I’m not clear on whether this means buzz monitoring and social media services providing a clippings or alert service for French papers now also need an NLA license. I dare say we’ll find out soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Disqus partners with Google backed Viglink to take on Skimlinks

I like Disqus and use it on most, but not all, of my blogs. It’s live on this blog. Disqus provides a good comment system, that’s easy to moderate, has a reputation system built in and is responsive to site design and browser.

A few months back Disqus rolled out their first step towards monetisation option (beyond charging for the premium service) by including links to other sites . As expected it is now possible to buy “promoted discovery” suggestions in that area. I think it’s a good idea although the recommendations have been pretty poorly matched to date. I expect Disqus to get better quickly.

The surprise extra news is that the comment engine has teamed up with Google VC backed Viglink to turn links in your blog posts and comments to affiliate links. This is done with JavaScript and they say it does not mess with your current affiliate links.

That may be true in theory but Viglink’s big competitor is Skimlinks. Skimlinks has, I think, previously offered better technology and is more established in Europe. I now have blogs running code in which both the Disqus-Viglink alliance will have JavaScript that competes with my Skimlinks JavaScript for that affiliate enriching moment.

I’ll need to test the Disqus offering. They’ll be taking their cut so I might ask why I don’t sign up with Viglink directly – I have an account. The answer to that may be in extra challenge both Viglink and Skimlinks have in applying their auto-affiliate magic to links in comments. A few years back I noticed that Skimlinks was not successfully adding affiliate tracking to URLs left in comments in one of my IntenseDebate (a Disqus competitor) comment section.

In the meantime I’ll have to turn the Disqus offering off to ensure it’s not clashing with my current set up. Disqus, perhaps because it makes them money and perhaps because users are lazy buggers who’ll not likely opt-in, have enabled this affiliate grab by default.

Disqus have created this page that describes the offering and helps their customers opt-out.

Another challenge in making affiliate links turn on by default across thousands of blogs is the thorny issue of legal disclosure. Thouands of blogs are now making money off what was once “no relationship /editorial only” links and many may not realise.

I don’t think this is (yet) an SEO issue and a Google issue although it could become so. If enough bloggers abuse Disqus to get these VigLink enhanced clicks then there’s a chance, a slim one, that the Disqus code becomes a negative quality signal. There’s no sign of that happening yet, it remains an outside shot and I’d have no problem is Disqus started applying some editorial gatekeeping to their free service.

Disqus even try and address the issue of legal disclosure. They’ve updated their “What’s This?” disclosure to reflect the presence of affiliate links. I’m not a legal expert but I wonder whether a small section in the comment system that happens to mention possible monetary incentive is enough for all sectors. Arguably, this disclosure is more than either Skimlinks or Viglink provide by default.

Disqus have other monetisation strategies to look at (and I wonder if they’re already doing this) such as selling the data they harvest on the data markets to DSPs and Ad Exchanges (in a similar way that AddThis and ShareThis do).

Disqus provide a good service and for the most part it’s free. It’s not wrong of them to look at ways of making money. It is a somewhat strange thing to wake up and find already active across your blogs though.

Thoughts turn to Disqus’ competitors and Skimlinks. Will they unite and what extra value could they bring? Will we see some M&A and could content recommendation engines like Outbrain or LinkWithin get involved?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Google's new Gmail ads

I noticed an icon in my Gmail sidebar above one of the traditional ads.

I think this is new. Newish. The result is a new type of ad that looks like an email message.

As Google says;

It's a new type of ad that you can save to your inbox or forward on. If you dimiss this ad, you won't see it again."

Have you seen this before?

What do you think of the approach? I quite like it; it feels like a natural social ad and has the potential to be a word of mouth/recommendation too. At the same time it doesn't get in the way of my Gmail experience and does not feel creepy.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Google takes on Shazam, SoundHound

I've just upgraded my Google Search app on my Nexus 7 and it has a few interesting new features.

One caught my eye in particular; with Google Voice you can now say; "What's this song?" and Google will attempt to find the song you/it can currently hear.

Actually, Google's been able to do something like this since 2006 - even on TV programs - as this BBC report features. This is just the first time, I'm aware of, that the technology has been given to searchers.