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Friday, June 29, 2007

AdWords Placement Performance Report Example

The new Google AdWords placement performance report is going to be very useful. Here are some quick observations, based on this report:

placement performance report
  1. Glad to NOT be paying on a CPM basis for MySpace ads!
  2. How much revenue is NY Times generating from AdSense on (New York Times bought in 2005.)
  3. "Domain ads" in this example have a reasonable CTR.
  4. Why won't Google show actual domains for domain ads?
  5. How much revenue is Google making from "Error page ads" traffic?
I've been tracking content network clicks (demo) for awhile, but it's fascinating to be able to see impressions by domain (and URL) across the content network. I'd really like to see this data broken out for parked domain traffic, as well. There is a Google AdWords help page explaining the "Domain ads" and "Error page ads" categories:
I. Error page ads
All error page ads are aggregated and labeled as error page ads in the ‘special category’ column. To learn more about error page ads, read about our AdSense for errors program.

II. Domain ads
An ad may appear on a parked domain site that’s a part of our AdSense for domains program, which places targeted AdWords ads on parked domain sites.
Hmm, AdSense for Errors? How many flavors of AdSense are there? How many of them, like AdSense for Domains, overlap on both the search and content networks on the AdWords side? I'm aware of:
  1. AdSense for Content
  2. AdSense for Search
  3. AdSense for Domains
  4. AdSense for Video
  5. AdSense for Audio
  6. AdSense for Feeds
  7. AdSense for Newspapers
  8. AdSense for Errors
Are there more? Is Google, through AdSense + Gadgets, becoming ubiquitous? How much of their future business plan does NOT rely on itself? Perhaps it's time to stop referring to Google, the company, as a search engine. What is Google?

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Google Gadget Ventures = Ubiquity + Recruiting

Google Gadget Ventures (announced today) is a clever move by Google for two reasons: ubiquity and recruiting. The reason Google makes so much money is not because they have the best search. It's because they're ubiquitous. Think Google AdSense for Search, AdSense for Content and AdSense for Domains. Google is making money "off" of the core Google platform. Recognizing that widgets are a big part of the future, Google Gadget Ventures will help them "be" everywhere:
Good news for Google Gadget developers. We've just launched Google Gadget Ventures, a new pilot program for distributing grants and seed investments to gadget developers and gadget-related businesses. We're excited about the opportunity this will give developers to build even richer, more useful gadgets and get recognized for doing it.
Developers should read the fine print, however:
6. Does Google's seed investment in a Google Gadget give it equity solely in the gadget or the entire company that produced it?
Google's investments will be in companies, and the equity for that investment will be equity in these companies.
That's the other piece, here. Recruiting. Both in terms of people and companies, Google Gadget Ventures is a way for Google to recruit. Clever. Devious? Depends on your point of view, I suppose.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Is Worth $400 Million?

Wow! WSJ is reporting is for sale with a price tag as high as $400 million (via TechCrunch). From the article:
Entrepreneurs Jake Winebaum and Sky Dayton were widely mocked for lavishing $7.5 million on a single Internet domain name -- -- back in 1999. It was the single highest price paid for a domain name at the time.

Now look who is having the last laugh.

The company that grew out of -- a search engine used by businesses to find products and services -- is now on the auction block, and could fetch anywhere between $300 million and $400 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
I wonder what the domain name,, alone is worth? It must have a phenomenal amount of direct navigation traffic (free and not reliant on search engine whims). How can you tell? Look at the Overture (now Yahoo! Search Marketing) keyword suggestion tool: searches

That's probably ~9000 searches per month on Google. Noting that Direct Navigation via Search Box is a Trend, I wonder how this translates into direct navigation traffic. Does anybody have a rough idea as to what percentage of people type domains into search boxes versus a browser's address bar? I'd guess it's a small subset. Even if it's a high number like 10% then we're talking ~90,000 people per month navigating directly to and bypassing search engines altogether. How much is that traffic worth? Is more valuable to a domainer or, as the WSJ article puts it:
Closely held is expected to attract a host of interest from the likes of media companies such as Dow Jones & Co. and New York Times Co., these people said. Requests for comment from and the New York Times were not returned yesterday evening. Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, declined to comment.
If the price really is in the $300-$400 million range, will it be out of reach of the domain companies that are actively seeking to develop their properties (rather than park them)? I wonder if any of these companies will be interested in Reinvent Technology, Marchex, Demand Media, Internet REIT (iREIT).

I'll be curious what Paul Sloan (of Business 2.0) thinks about the value of the domain and/or underlying business.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Yahoo! Should NOT Be For Sale

Interesting post today on GigaOM: Who should buy Yahoo? Handicapping 5 likely suitors. Nobody should buy Yahoo!, though. A merger makes no sense when being nimble is what's necessary to compete with Google. However, I think a joint venture with Microsoft might work. (BTW, these are the 2 things I think Yahoo! should do right now, before considering mergers or partnerships.) In order to keep up with Google, it might even make sense for Yahoo! and Microsoft to spin off their search advertising properties and merge those entities into a new firm. Following the web 2.0 naming conventions (tongue-in-cheek), they should create this new search company:
Yeah, that's Overture sans vowels. ;-)

Or maybe take the generic domain name route and buy something like the domain. I'm serious, though, about a new company that combines the best of Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter, both in terms of technology and people. Treat it like a startup, with venture capital from both Yahoo! and Microsoft. The problem with both Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter is that while they both have decent advertising platforms, they're still not as good as Google AdWords. More importantly, they don't have sufficient ad distribution, both in terms of quantity and quality. Even if they had a better solution than AdWords, it wouldn't matter. Combining the ad distribution to Yahoo! and Microsoft front-end search domains plus ad distribution networks would create a viable alternative to Google.

A merger, though, between Yahoo! and Microsoft will stifle innovation. Having been at AOL when they merged with Time Warner, it was frustrating to watch innovation grind to a halt. No, forget about a merger and find another way to compete with Google, perhaps by spinning off Overture. Or, Yahoo! can start by implementing these changes.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

What Should the New Yahoo! CEO Do First?

Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel is out (via TechCrunch and Read/WriteWeb). Jerry Yang (who founded the company with David Filo) is the new CEO and Susan Decker has been promoted to Yahoo! President. If you want to catch up on that news, read the Yahoo! blog, the press release and the Techmeme coverage. No point in regurgitating the news here on this blog.

Instead, I'm going to propose some steps I think the new Yahoo! CEO should implement first. Am I qualified to advise Jerry Yang? Probably not, but I did work at AOL from 1995-2001 so know what it's like to work at a small but then large Internet company that loses its edge. Also, from an external perspective, I've managed Yahoo! Search Marketing accounts since 2002 (when it was Overture). I'll limit the scope of this post to two ideas that specifically address points made in Jerry Yang's "My new job" post:

1) Make Yahoo! Search Marketing work for Yahoo! Search only.
He stresses a "Yahoo! that better monetizes its audience." Right now, the audience that could be monetized better is searchers. This might seem counterintuitive, but if Yahoo! created a version of (or enabled an option in) their ad platform that worked exclusively for Yahoo! Search, they would monetize search results to a much better degree.

It doesn't matter that Yahoo! has a new advertising platform. It's all about ad distribution. Since they haven't been able to increase ad distribution (like Google has), they need to improve the quality of their existing ad distribution. This will attract more advertisers and those advertisers will be willing to bid higher and Yahoo! won't be paying as much TAC (traffic acquisition costs).

I explained the problem awhile ago in this post: Yahoo! has Nasty Sausage Ingredients. You'd be amazed at how much low quality traffic flows through the Yahoo! "search" advertising system. Since advertisers cannot opt out of this low quality traffic, they simply lower bids across the board in order to maintain sufficient ROI. Yahoo! loses money - and credibility. Wouldn't it make perfect sense to have the option to buy ads *just* on through Yahoo! Search Marketing? It's probably bad netiquette to quote oneself, but I think this drives the point home. In a recent post, Yahoo! Search Marketing New Pricing Model is the Wrong New Feature, I stated:
A discount on low quality traffic is still a premium.
Think about that. Say it out loud. Man, I wish Yahoo! was listening. A discount on low quality traffic is still a premium! Because of that, in many cases, I've been turning off Yahoo! Search Marketing ads entirely or cutting way back on bids and keywords, allocating that budget to Google AdWords (where I can run ads just on Google properties) and focusing on SEO tactics for results.

Do you agree that Yahoo! could actually monetize search better if they provided an option to limit ad distribution to Yahoo! Search alone?

2) Integrate Flickr and into Yahoo! Search
If searchers are the audience that can be monetized more effectively, then wouldn't it make sense to improve the Yahoo! Search product to attract a wider audience? This suggestion is in response to Jerry Yang's post where he says:
We have incredible assets. This company has massive potential, drive, determination and skills, and we won’t be satisfied until the external perception of Yahoo! accurately reflects that reality.
Two of the most important assets are and Flickr. I wouldn't worry about the "external perception" but would simply build a better search product than Google. This is not a new idea. Yahoo! has already done some Flickr search integration and I talked about search integration in 2006:
I think Yahoo should leverage their property to improve their search product. They could tack on results, much like they've done with answers. Better yet, they could use the collective intelligence of social bookmarking to improve their search relevance algorithm. Google's big breakthrough was... [read the full post]
Geez, quoting myself again. The other important asset that Yahoo! possesses, of course, are its people. It's clear from events like Hack Day that the developers at Yahoo! continue to innovate. Perhaps they will have more of a voice now that Yahoo! has a new CEO. Catching up on news about the recent London Hack Day, however, it did seem strange to not have a Yahoo! property to conduct a search. From the Yahoo! Developer Network blog:
(For more on the goings-on at Alexandra Palace, checkout the hackdaylondon tag in and Flickr)
Wouldn't it make more sense if you could just search for london hack day or hackdaylondon (on Yahoo! Search) and, if tags were present and relevant, they'd be integrated into the search results? It somehow seemed awkward to have to go to two separate Yahoo! properties to catch up on London Hack Day. Shouldn't they be integrated into Yahoo! Search? Could this type of innovation make Yahoo! Search more compelling than Google?

I did say I'd limit this post to two ideas so I won't wonder if the new Yahoo! CEO would complement Flickr and with a purchase of Technorati. Instead, I suggest you enjoy a game of Flickr TagMan:

flickr tagman beckham tag

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Friday, June 15, 2007 - First Search Marketing Ad on TV?

Watching Fast Money on CNBC tonight, I saw a search marketing TV ad. I've never seen a search marketing firm advertising on TV before. I wonder if this is a first? The ad is for a company called SendTec (don't know anything about them). The ad lists the domain which seems like a poor choice of a domain to use in a TV spot. Why not or something easy to remember like Anyway, the ad itself was pretty interesting. It was visually appealing and included two offers: a free SWOT analysis and a free guide about search engine marketing mistakes.

I suspect we'll hear more about SendTec as other search marketers notice their TV ad. Gotta give them credit. Will be interesting to see if this helps spread awareness of SEM (search engine marketing) to a wider audience. Searching for the domain, I came across this DMNews article that provides some details on what they call a DRTV (direct response television) advertising campaign.

Is this the first ever TV ad campaign for a search marketing firm? Anyone know anything about SendTec? What did you think of the ad itself?

BTW, if anyone from SendTec is checking the blogosphere for reactions to the campaign, can you explain the choice of domain name for the TV ad? Also, I'd be curious to know which domain experiences more direct navigation as a result of the TV ads: or How effective is the TV ad?

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Update on Google's Ad Network Opacity

Quick update to my last post (about Google's selective lack of transparency regarding the new placement performance report which was designed to increase transparency). The Inside AdWords blog has some good information about the new placement performance report:
The report also provides a new level of transparency for traffic you accrued from sites in our network that are participating in the AdSense for domains program. Currently, AdSense for domains statistics are collectively reported, but we are working to give you site-by-site level statistics soon.
Good to hear that they are working on making the AdSense for Domains traffic transparent. I still think they should simply create a new network on the AdWords side for this traffic on the AdSense side. If AdSense for Content traffic is distributed to the AdWords content network, wouldn't it just make sense to have AdSense for Domains traffic distributed on an AdWords domain network?

The problem with these networks is that they include a significant number of low quality sites. It's essential for advertisers to identify and block these low quality sites. Again, good advice from the Inside AdWords blog in that regard:
Conversely, you can use this report as a guide to take action on the sites that aren't meeting your ROI goals. For poorly performing sites, we recommend optimizing your ad groups by refining the keyword lists in your campaigns or using our site exclusion tool.
Ah, but the site exclusion tool doesn't work for parked domain traffic. Well, you CAN block parked domains with the tool, but you have to block at the domain parking partner level. That's not a good solution - it's a hack. Perhaps this is part of the reason Google hasn't reported individual parked domains in the new placement performance report. Advertisers wouldn't be able to block those individual sites if they deem them low quality. The advertiser would have to know what domain parking system the particular parked domain was partnered with and block all traffic from that partner.

Again, wouldn't it just make sense to have all the AdSense for Domains traffic on its own AdWords network? I suspect Google's developers are as frustrated as I am with the current implementation of stuffing the domain traffic across *both* the search and content networks. Sigh. At least Google is working on the problem...

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Google's Transparency is Inexplicably Opaque

Reading phrases like "the spirit of transparency" on the official Google blog today, I'm a little perplexed by their press release, Google AdWords Announces New Content Placement Reports for Advertisers, which reveals a decided lack of transparency (note the phrase I've highlighted in bold):
In an ongoing effort to provide more transparency to advertisers, Google announced today the availability of a new AdWords report, called a Placement Performance report, which enables advertisers to see the exact sites on the Google content network where their ads appear. Placement Performance reports also provide site-by-site performance metrics – including domain, URL, impression, click, conversion and cost data – as well as aggregated metrics for traffic generated from AdSense for domain sites.
Why is Google being opaque despite claiming transparency? Do they not want to reveal their hidden ad network? Is it spinning too much straw into gold? I had a good laugh reading Niki Scevak's post noting the irony of this announcement:
You can’t help but smile at certain comments by Google, home to the veritable oceans of Phd scholars in computer science research and highly skilled software engineers... Imagine the sophisticated the technology needed to split out direct navigation sites!
Hmm, I might not need this Google content advertising tracking script anymore.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Efficient Frontier Perpetuates the Domain Parking Traffic Conversion Myth

When I saw the Efficient Frontier AdSense for Domains case study last month (linked to from a Google AdWords help page about parked domains), I was worried it'd be used to perpetuate the domain parking traffic conversion myth. Sure enough, domainers are quick to promote the Efficient Frontier study:
domainer blogsThose posts are all from blogs I've recently added to a mini-blogroll on the main page of Apogee Weblog. Only one of those bloggers, Andrew Allemann of Domain Name Wire, seems to recognize that this study leaves some unanswered questions. Read his post, Domain Parking Sites Convert at Twice that of Search. It's very balanced.

I'm a little perplexed that Efficient Frontier published this study. Why? I first heard the term "distribution fraud" from Chris Zaharias, SVP at Efficient Frontier. When I wrote about the ridiculous garbage traffic coming from the Google AdWords *search* network, it was his post that made me realize this should be classified as distribution fraud and not as click fraud. Now his company is publishing a "case study" espousing the virtues of AdSense for Domains? No, something doesn't add up here. Note that I have great respect for Chris and am calling his company, not him, on this one. I gave him a heads up in May (read the comments here), before Efficient Frontier published the study on their site.

For any domainers reading this, I want to point out that I recognize the value of generic keyword domains and respect generic name domainers. I can appreciate the argument that genuine type-in traffic could convert as well as or even better than search traffic. After all, if the same keywords are typed with a ".com" on the end but in the address bar instead of the search box, advertisers don't have to compete with algorithmic search engine results. Unfortunately, this high quality parked domain traffic (I know many search marketers reading this blog will view that as an oxymoron but read my last sentence again) is being blended with garbage traffic across both the Google AdWords content *and* search networks. I know when I first started seeing significant amounts of garbage traffic from parked domains, I wanted to block them all.

Both domainers and PPC advertisers need greater transparency from Google (and Yahoo!). PPC advertisers need to be able to block the garbage traffic. Generic name domainers need their domains on a separate ad network from other domains and questionable content sites so they can earn greater returns on their domains (PPC advertisers will bid high for high quality traffic). Google needs to reduce the perception of click fraud. IOW, we all need to solve this problem.

Google is the gatekeeper. They need to stop distributing parked domain traffic on the AdWords search and content networks and to build a new, domain network. Doesn't that just make sense? On the AdSense side for publishers, Google offers: AdSense for Content, AdSense for Search, AdSense for Domains. However, on the AdWords side, there are only two networks: search and content. Google needs to add the third network and stop operating their hidden ad network. Or, are they really that reluctant to expose the "crazy aunt in the basement spinning straw into gold?"

Domainers are starting to realize that garbage parked domains hurt the reputation of the domain industry. I've listed specific examples of garbage traffic from both Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing. Domainers, put yourselves in the shoes of PPC advertisers. Would you want to pay for traffic from nonsense names? Would you actually spend your own money to buy any of the domain names mentioned in any of these posts from this paragraph? No, they're garbage.

Search marketers need to realize that, just as there are high quality and low quality sites on the AdWords content network, the same is true of parked domains. Trouble is, since there's no network dedicated to domains, PPC advertisers don't always know when traffic is categorized as AdSense for Search vs AdSense for Content vs AdSense for Domains, particularly when they don't separate search ads from contextual ads. But, don't paint all parked domains with the same brush.

Perhaps advocacy groups for domainers and search marketers need to work together to put pressure on Google (and Yahoo!) to distribute parked domain ads on a separate network. I'm thinking of SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization) and ICA (Internet Commerce Association). What do you think? Should Google create a domain network ad distribution option for AdWords to isolate the AdSense for Domains traffic? If so, who can convince them to do so?

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New Way to Notice Site Launches

I noticed two site launches yesterday while testing TagTrends (details here). Clearly, people are so accustomed to typing keywords into Google's search box that they type a new site's domain name into the search box instead of into the browser address bar. Since TagTrends filters the Google Hot Trends data, I'm just searching for any keywords with "." in them:

These are the two site launches I noticed yesterday:, Here's some commentary from the blogosphere on these site launches:
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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Yahoo! Search Marketing New Pricing Model is the Wrong New Feature

I really wish I could write something positive about Yahoo! Search Marketing. We need a viable alternative to Google AdWords. Received an email from them today about their new pricing model based on traffic quality. These are the key features they list:
  1. We'll evaluate the quality of traffic from our distribution partners' sites.
  2. Your click charges can be discounted based on the value of that traffic.
  3. Discounts will automatically be applied to your account.
No, I'd rather evaluate the quality of traffic from your distribution partners myself, thank you very much. Unfortunately, Yahoo! Search Marketing traffic hasn't looked good, lately. I think the last question in the FAQ is the most relevant one:
What if I do not want traffic from a particular source at all, regardless of the price-per-click I end up being charged?
Although we do not currently offer the ability for advertisers to opt-out of particular sources of traffic, this is a feature that we plan to begin offering later in 2007. We will certainly let you know when this feature is available.
That's the feature you should have implemented now. I'd prefer 100% traffic at 100% of the click price and 0% of the low quality distribution partner traffic. A discount on low quality traffic is still a premium. Best insight on the "big" search marketing blogs comes from Andrew Goodman on his Traffick blog:
It's a way of blunting criticisms of fraud-prone distribution partners without actually offending the partner network by taking direct action. In other words, it's an abdication of past responsibility for click fraud in the network, while trying to quietly rectify the problem.
Right on! One other FAQ question worth highlighting:
Does quality-based pricing affect Content Match traffic, too?
Yes, it applies to both Content Match and Sponsored Search.
IOW, Yahoo! sort of admits that both networks are low quality. Sigh. More details on the Y!SM blog.

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Direct Navigation via Search Box is a Trend

I think I've been looking at Google Hot Trends too much this evening while testing TagTrends. As the trend results have been changing, I've noted a few domain names included in the results. Direct navigation via search box is, indeed, a trend. Here are the domains from the past few hours (in no particular order):
Seeing a .info in the list is interesting. What's peculiar is that Google doesn't seem to have data to support the trend:

I checked the site out and was redirected to Looks like a really strange guerilla marketing campaign for Toyota's Scion brand. Kind of creepy. Anyway, I wonder what prompted the spike in searches.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Is Google Hot Trends Near Real Time?

Playing around with TagTrends today, I'm noticing the Google Hot Trends data is updated fairly often. Compare the top 10 list in my last post, TagTrends Test: Mashup of Google Hot Trends + Technorati Tags, with the current top 10 list:
Google's answer to the question "How does Hot Trends work?" does indicate regular refreshes during the current day:
For each search, Hot Trends shows related searches, a search volume graph, and the top cities. We also display news, blog and web results to help give context about why a search may be appearing on the Hot Trends list today. Hot Trends is updated multiple times each day.
I wonder how close to real time the data is? Also, interesting that Hot Trends was launched just before the New York Times article, Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine. That article mentions the Google concept of QDF (query deserves freshness):
The QDF solution revolves around determining whether a topic is “hot.” If news sites or blog posts are actively writing about a topic, the model figures that it is one for which users are more likely to want current information.
Hmm, each Hot Trends page includes links to blog posts and new sites. Perhaps Google is on a bit of a PR push, to show that search is still a priority and search results are not stale? BTW, that NY Times article is a great read. It's been covered by many blogs, but Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz has an excellent overview.

I'm a little puzzled by Seth Godin's Building 43 post which also discusses the article. He refers to an "SEO arms race" and seems to have an axe to grind with SEO, in general. Yes, you do have to watch out for snake oil SEO but every industry has some bad apples. Seth's comments seem particularly ironic considering this quote on the Squidoo blog (he founded Squidoo):
Squidoo is a quality site. It offers highly focused content which often rises to the top of the search engine rankings very quickly. The Squidoo site has a PR7 (Page Rank) in Google. According to Alexa, Squidoo is ranked in the top 1000 sites on the whole web.
Sounds like SEO-speak to me. Yes, I realize that post is quoting someone else, but it's posted on the official Squidoo blog. You can't benefit from SEO and then bash it at the same time. Odd. Anyway, I do like Squidoo. ;-)

Now, let's see if TagTrends has new keyword data...

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TagTrends Test: Mashup of Google Hot Trends + Technorati Tags

TagTrendsI'm experimenting with a new mashup called TagTrends. It looks at the popular searches from Google Hot Trends and filters it down to only those single and double keyword phrases (since most tags are one or two words). It then compares these searches to the Technorati tags page. This tool is similar to TagMuse which pulls popular searches from Technorati. The basic idea is to identify keywords to use as tags for new blog posts. Not sure if the Google Hot Trends data is going to be useful or not for this application. This is one of those random ideas I thought might be worth testing. Here's a current snapshot of the top 10 keyword tags from the tool:
How could you use this information? The core idea is to write a blog post on one of these keyword topics. Could have other uses, though. If people are searching with these keywords on Google, they're likely to do so on Technorati. Could be a way to know what Technorati WTF to write. Could buy some pay per click keyword ads. Could help with brainstorming domain name ideas (maybe that's a stretch).

How are you using Google Trends data and Hot Trends, in particular? Would you use a free tool like TagTrends or TagMuse?

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Crucial Info for Getting Back Your Lost Traffic

I'm a little baffled by emails I've been receiving with a subject line of "Crucial Info for Getting Back Your Lost Traffic" from Yahoo! Search Marketing:
We've been reviewing advertisers' accounts, and have identified your account as one that may be recently experiencing decreased traffic. Specifically, it appears that you have one or more ad groups that have only one ad in them, which is hindering your ability to test different ads that might be able to increase traffic while lowering your costs.
Huh?! It's the advertiser's fault that the new Yahoo! Search Marketing ad platform (Panama) has resulted in decreased traffic? This is an odd move by Yahoo! to imply that a dip in traffic is due to an advertiser's action (or inaction). Seems like quite a few people are not impressed with the upgrade of Overture to Yahoo! Search Marketing Panama:
Pity. The legacy Overture system was a good ad platform. It just needed to be a bit more responsive. I liked the fact that it was different from Google AdWords. Now, it's arguably a clone of AdWords that's not quite as good. My biggest complaint with the new Yahoo! Search Marketing is that you can't buy search engine advertising on Yahoo! alone. You're stuck with their entire syndication network which has some nasty ingredients. I'll be relieved if/when they fix that.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Feedburner Acquisition Expands Google's Internet Advertising Hegemony

Google's acquisition of Feedburner will, undoubtedly, increase their already increasing Internet advertising market share. I was reminded of Google's search engine dominance a few days ago while looking at a few minutes worth of natural search traffic stats for a client:

search engine traffic
(BTW, if you don't have a good way to track keywords from search engine traffic, try my firm's free search engine tracking script). That Google is expanding RSS ads distribution by acquisition rather than organic growth is a little peculiar considering they already have AdSense for Feeds. However, that launched in 2005 and never appeared to gain much traction, even with support from Feedburner. Part of the motivation for the deal appears to be better integration with AdWords. I do hope they either create a new network on the AdWords system for RSS ads or else run them on the content network, rather than expanding the AdWords hidden ad network. For some odd reason, the latest Google annual report lumps AdSense for Feeds in with AdSense for Domains:
Google AdSense for Domains and Feeds. Google AdSense for domains allows owners of undeveloped domains which receive traffic from users typing generic terms into browsers or search to generate revenue from relevant advertising. AdSense for feeds is a free program that allows publishers to monetize their feeds—user-subscribable content streams containing structured data such as stock and financial information, web log posts, and weather reports—through text ads targeted to the content of the feed. Like AdSense for search or content, Google shares the majority of the advertising revenue from AdSense for domains and AdSense for feeds with the domain owner or feed publisher.
That's the only mention in the annual report. I'm guessing AdSense for Feeds isn't adding much to the bottom line. Acquiring Feedburner will certainly reignite (no pun intended) that program. I wonder how it will be integrated into AdWords, though. Anybody know if it will simply be a part of the content network or if it will be a separate product within AdWords, sort of like Google Audio Ads?

One last thought - I wonder if Yahoo! or Microsoft considered buying Feedburner. With its ubiquity, this would have been a good defensive move to limit Google's expanding Internet advertising dominance. Consider this answer in the Feedburner acquistion FAQ:
Q. Given the dramatic growth of feed-based content in recent years, how much advertising market share does Google hope to gain from this acquisition, both immediately and over time?
A. While we don't release specific projections, we think there is great value in feed-based advertising. As more and more content emerges on the web, users are looking for an easier way to aggregate that content. We think we can create opportunities for advertisers to reach their target audiences while maintaining a high quality user experience.
Another clever move by Google to cement its Internet advertising hegemony. How will Microsoft and Yahoo! respond, I wonder?

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