Maine Munchies Ad

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is Google a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

Is Google a wolf in sheep's clothing? That might seem like an absurd question, particularly coming from a Google Advertising Professional and GOOG shareholder. I am, in essence, an advocate for Google but at times find them an adversary when looking out for the interests of my clients. This recent issue of Google claiming to be fighting domain tasting while making tidy profits from the practice is what prompted me to ask this question. This is an important issue for PPC advertisers and it is unclear, at this point, if Google is a friend or foe in the matter. First, some domain definitions:
Domain tasting should not be confused with domain kiting, which is the process of deleting a domain name during the five-day grace period and immediately re-registering it for another five-day period. This process is repeated any number of times with the end result of having the domain registered without ever actually paying for it.
Next, some conflicting reports from reliable sources:
It all comes back to this issue of distribution fraud. It doesn't reflect well on Google. If this talk about getting ahead of domain kiting and/or domain tasting is simply a PR move by Google, prompted by a recent ICANN meeting outcome, that's pathetic. If they really want to do the right thing, they should add some transparency to their advertising system. Better yet, they should simply isolate this traffic so advertisers can effectively manage the clicks they're buying:

google adwords domain parking

I think parked domain advertising can be very effective. However, I don't want it commingled with search and contextual ads. Just as I like to keep search advertising separate from contextual advertising, I'd like to be able to manage domain advertising in discrete campaigns in AdWords. Doesn't that just make sense?

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Moved to New Executive Office Space in Columbia, MD

new executive office spaceI have been a part of the "work from home" generation since 2002. In 2008, I've decided to rent office space from Business Suites of Columbia. When I worked as a software developer at AOL from 1995-2001, I sometimes worked from home. Those days at home were often more productive than days in the office. So, why have I decided to rent an office now? First, my home office has become quite crowded over the last few years:

small office home office
home office getting crowded (in a good way)

Second, the office space for rent from Business Suites (not to be confused with BusinesSuites which also has locations in Columbia, Maryland) is terrific. Examples from their virtual tour:

business suites conference room
conference room w/ LCD screen and nice decor

I've been enjoying the complimentary beverage and snack service (especially the Keurig coffee machine in the kitchen):

keurig coffee machine in business suites kitchen
Business Suites kitchen w/ Keurig coffee machine

The furnished offices are very nice. I might still be working from home if Business Suites of Columbia hadn't opened for business recently. After so many years working outside of an office environment, it's quite refreshing to work in a quiet office. It'll be interesting to see how quickly the other executive offices at this location are rented. Here's the address:

9520 Berger Road
Suite 212
Columbia, MD 21046

Despite the new overhead of monthly office space rental, for 2008, I aim to server fewer clients, better. I'll let you know how that goes. ;-)

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Why PPC Advertisers Should Prefer Parked Domains

Here's an excerpt of a comment I left on John Battelle's What Percentage of Yahoo's (and Google's) Revenue Comes from Domainers post:
If you look at this from the advertisers' point of view, domain ads should actually perform better than even search ads. Why? There are no organic search results to compete with. That's the theory, anyway. In practice, too many of the parked domains participating in the Yahoo and Google ad distribution networks are not equivalent to searches. They're garbage.
If you've read my posts documenting specific examples of garbage traffic from parked domains both from Google AdWords and from Yahoo Search Marketing, you might not expect me to write a post making the case that PPC advertisers should prefer parked domains. Be aware of the garbage, but also understand the value of generic keyword domains that are equivalent to search. I'll use the example of rumcakes.com (which has been mentioned by quite a few domainers). Look at the syndicated Yahoo ads:

yahoo ads on rumcakes.com

Now, look at those same 4 ads spots on a Yahoo search for rum cakes:

yahoo search ads for rum cakes

Questions to think about:
  1. Is typing rumcakes.com into a browser bar equivalent to typing "rum cakes" into a search box?
  2. Which ads look more compelling?
  3. Which ads should have a higher CTR?
  4. Would the lack of organic search results on the parked domain favor the PPC advertiser?
  5. Are PPC search ads content?
Notice that some of the ads are in a longer format on the parked domain than the Yahoo search result. That's a competitive advantage that Yahoo had over Google. I don't understand why they chose to copycat Google's ad format. Yahoo should offer a separate domain advertising product, independent of the existing sponsored search and content match products currently available in Yahoo Search Marketing. The longer ad format should be emphasized as an advantage over Google's AdWords/AdSense system. No, Yahoo shouldn't drop search. They still have options.

For some views on domaining from some other search engine marketing professionals, I suggest these posts:
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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yahoo! Makes a Tasty Move

TechCrunch reports Delicious Integrated Into Yahoo Search Results. This could give Yahoo the edge on Google which they so desperately need considering all the bad news for YHOO. I thought they would have made such a move sooner. In 2006, I suggested that Yahoo:
...leverage their del.icio.us property to improve their search product. They could tack on del.icio.us 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 PageRank which uses links as a measure of a web page's relevance. Google looks at both the quantity and quality of links and treats these links as, essentially, votes for a site. I think a page bookmarked via del.icio.us could be a better indicator of the importance of a web page than links. Particularly as webmasters have caught on to this idea and links have been gamed to a large degree. If someone views a page as important enough to bookmark, perhaps that's a better "vote" than a link? If Yahoo integrated del.icio.us bookmarks in its search engine algorithm, could the results be more relevant than Google's?
BTW, in case you're not familiar with del.icio.us, try this game to explore the site:
del.icio.us game
Also, there's a good list out today, 10 Things Yahoo! Search Must do to Become Relevant, by Aaron Wall (one of my favorite bloggers). I think #2 and #9 on that list are very good ideas. I'll add to #9 and suggest they buy a company like Sendori, to take (or keep) more of the parked domain market share out of the hands of Google. At the same time, I still think the 2 suggestions in this post are relevant:
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Google Online Marketing Challenge a Clever Recruiting Tactic

Google's killing 2 recruiting birds with 1 stone via the Google Online Marketing Challenge. They're recruiting:
  1. New local advertisers (who they've been courting recently)
  2. Potential employees for their future search engine marketing division (part of DoubleClick)
Clever. To see what I mean, read today's press release:
Professors across the U.S. and the world have partnered with Google Inc. to introduce students to the world of online advertising and already 8,000 students are ready for the challenge.

The Google Online Marketing Challenge is a hands-on competition which will give undergraduate and post-graduate students direct experience with online advertising and marketing. Student groups will receive $200 to spend on Google AdWords™ advertising, working with a local business of their selection to devise effective online marketing campaigns. They will outline a strategy, run the campaign, assess their results, and provide the business with recommendations to further develop their online marketing.
I humbly suggest that any students involved in the Google Online Marketing Challenge read the following article and blog posts:
It will be interesting to see how well Google does, both in terms of recruiting local advertisers and future search marketers. I'd like to highlight some of the rules of this online marketing challenge (emphasis mine):
  1. Professors divide students into groups, who then receive free online advertising vouchers for Google AdWords worth $200.
  2. The groups or professors recruit a small to medium sized business, under 100 employees, who have a website but don't currently use AdWords. Each group works with the business to set up an account and structure an online marketing campaign.
  3. During a 3 week competition window, the groups optimize and refine their campaigns. They will need to submit two competition reports – one before they begin and one after the campaign has ended. Entries are judged and winners chosen based on the success of their campaign and the quality of their reports.
I don't think 3 weeks is a long enough time period to optimize a campaign. Reminds me of stock trading competitions. Long term investing is very different from short term investing, both in a market for stocks and a market for keywords (AdWords). Still, for a competition of this nature, it'd be difficult to coordinate over a long time period, such as a whole semester. Plus, $200 wouldn't go very far.

google advertising professional logoThe $200 figure is interesting. That's twice what we Qualified Google Advertising Professionals can offer new clients. Notice, too, that only small businesses that don't already use Google AdWords are eligible for this marketing challenge. That's a clever recruiting tactic on Google's part to leverage motivated students to broaden the Google local advertising base.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Best PPC Advertising Blogger in Europe

Merjis - PPC Advertising in EuropeMy current list of favorite bloggers has a glaring omission. IMHO, the best PPC advertising blogger in Europe is Jeremy Chatfield, one of the authors of the Merjis Internet Marketing Blog. Now, there is a reason for this omission. There had been a large gap in posts from this GAP. I thought perhaps he had stopped blogging. Now that he's blogging again, I thought I'd write a special post and mention his blog. I suspect that readers of Apogee Weblog who are interested in PPC advertising will find his blog very interesting. Here's a quick excerpt from a recent post, AdWords Search Query Reports:
So… What does Google say about these non-search impressions and CTR and Quality Score.

There is a single sentence, uncovered by Rich Ball, that says that Broad Match impressions don’t affect the CTR history. Since the AdWords Learning Center and other resources don’t even acknowledge that non-keyword-search impressions form part of the Google Search Pages, there are no identifiable statements that describe the effect of non-search impressions on search CTR.

Google guys, this is not right. You can’t expect to be treated as a respectable advertising channel when you conceal what you do, set expectations that you don’t deliver, and fail to explain why you consider what you are doing as fair and reasonable.

If you deliver impressions to sites that you are embarrassed to reveal - that sends its own message.
Can you see why I picked that excerpt? ;-)

Anyway, go and read the Merjis search marketing blog. In particular, read all of the posts in the adwords category.

And, Jeremy, Happy New Year to you! My apologies on the omission from my last post. Definitely glad to see you blogging again.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Happy New Year to My Favorite Bloggers

I'd like to wish a Happy New Year to my favorite bloggers. I read a wide variety of blogs on a regular basis. It's essential to keep up with what's happening in the search marketing space. This past year, though, I've found some domainer blogs fascinating. So, my current list of favorite bloggers includes domainers as well as search engine marketing professionals. First, cheers!

cheers

Second, go and read my favorite blogs (domainers listed first and then SEO/M bloggers):
Quick anecdote regarding that last blog. Before Kieden was purchased by Salesforce, I noticed they had a quote on their site that was from a brief article I'd written for SEMPO in 2004 about search engine advertising. I contacted Kieden and Kraig was gracious and updated the image on their site to attribute the quote to my company:

search engine advertising quote
(You can verify via this archived page.)

Well, not too many people saw that graphic when Salesforce purchased Kieden a few weeks later. ;-)

Anyway, thanks again, Kraig, and Happy New Year bloggers!

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Google AdWords Authorized Reseller Requirements

Two interesting pieces of information from the AdWords and local markets post on the Google corporate blog:
  1. Google held a Local Markets Symposium invite-only event
  2. Google is recruiting for its AdWords Authorized Reseller Program
Doesn't appear that many attendees of the symposium blogged about it. Local Onliner has a good overview. I wonder if this new strategy by Google is an indication that the AdWords Starter Edition is not working out as anticipated. I argued in 2006 that Starter Edition was a bad idea. The concept is good but not the implementation.

As a Qualified Google Advertising Professional, I thought I'd look into signing my firm up for the AdWords Reseller Program. From Google's description, it sounds like a useful program:
Recent demand for locally-targeted and industry-specific online search has driven high growth in search marketing. Today, traditional media companies are offering search marketing products to meet advertiser demand. As an authorized Google AdWords Reseller, you will be partnering with Google to provide the leading search marketing product to your customers.
Unfortunately, my company is way too small to meet their requirements (emphasis mine):
  • Employ a direct sales force that sells to local businesses.
  • Have existing relationships with at least five hundred customers.
  • Demonstrate experience servicing and supporting local businesses.
  • Share Google’s desire to provide a high quality user and advertiser experience.
Five hundred customers??!! Who are they looking to partner with? Newspapers? Phone directories? Large advertising agencies? I doubt many search engine marketing firms have that large of a customer base. Are they trying to circumnavigate the search engine marketing industry? Note that passing the Google Advertising Professionals exam is an option but not a requirement for the reseller program:
The Learning Center is also a great way to prepare for the Google Advertising Professionals exam, which is one component of the Google Advertising Professionals program.

Becoming qualified within the Google Advertising Professionals program will greatly benefit participants in the Google Reseller Program. Designed for professionals who want to manage multiple AdWords client accounts, this program can help you become a more successful ad manager and prepare you to effectively service your customers using AdWords.
Hmm, as Google recruits companies for its AdWords reseller program and, at the same time, looks to work directly with AdWords advertisers (by offering complimentary optimizations), will they drop support for the Qualified Google Advertising Professionals program?

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Bill Richardson for President?

Does Bill Richardson still have a chance to be President now that only four Democratic candidates were present at tonight's presidential debate? Since the debate, more people are searching for information about Governor Richardson than the other Democratic candidates. Here's the current search trends data from google.com/trends/hottrends/atom/hourly (used by the experimental TagTrends tool). Notice the word "hourly" in the data feed URL. This is very current data:
  1. bill richardson
  2. governor richardson
Is this an indication that he is still in the race? From a search advertising perspective, notice that neither of those searches currently have any pay per click ads running alongside the natural search results. Over the short term, the long tail of search is often the short head. IOW, there's plenty of opportunity for nimble pay per click advertisers. Ditto for bloggers aware of QDF and SEO.

Getting back to Bill Richardson, though, does he still have the opportunity to be President?

Related Posts:
New Hampshire Debate on ABC
Debate Question: Which Presidential Candidate is Most Qualified for the Job?

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New Hampshire Debate on ABC

While the New Hampshire Debate aired on ABC, these were the top Google searches via the TagTrends tool:

new hampshire debate search trends

At that time, I didn't see any pay per click advertising on Google for the abc debate search. I did, however, see one ad for the new hampshire debate search:

new hampshire debate search advertising

Nothing from the candidates that were present for the debate. Odd. That's an opportunity lost.

Related Posts:
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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy New Year to Apogee Weblog Readers + Subscribers

Happy New Year! Thanks for reading and/or subscribing to Apogee Weblog:

Apogee Weblog Feedburner Stats

A few of my clients read this blog, but I don't know much about the rest of you. If you'd like to talk about yourself or your company, feel free to leave a comment. You can include a link or two. That'll help me determine blog topic ideas for 2008 that would benefit you. I have a long list of ideas of what to write, but knowing a bit more about who reads this blog might help. If there are particular topics related to search marketing you'd like to know more about, let me know.

Also, thanks to readers who have left comments or emailed in private over the past year. I've learned from the conversation and hope to continue learning during the course of this new year. In the meantime, I'm playing around with a webcam my brother gave me for Christmas:

Apogee Web Consulting logo on soccer jersey

For those of you that also blog, if you ever have trouble thinking of blogging ideas, bookmark these free tools:
  • TagMuse - Mashup of Technorati popular searches and tags
  • TagTrends - Grabs data from the Google Trends top searches hourly feed
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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Pixel Advertising Happy New Year to Clients

One aspect of running my own business that I particularly enjoy is learning about the business models of other companies. Having a degree in aerospace engineering and work experience as a software engineer, it's honestly taking me awhile to adapt to being a small business owner. Working with clients who are mom-and-pop operations to small venture-backed firms and larger employee-owned companies, I'm getting a glimpse of what it takes to manage and grow a business. It is a privilege to work with a wide variety of fascinating companies.

With that in mind, I'm keen to start the new year. I want to start by mentioning a few of the companies who are clients. Rather than simply list them, I thought it would be fun to do something a little more interesting. I've decided to borrow from the short-lived pixel advertising fad that came in 2005 and went in 2006, originally started by the Million Dollar Homepage.

So, I thought I'd highlight, in pixel ads form, some of the search marketing clients I've had the pleasure of working with during the course of 2007. I randomly chose 12 (seems like a good number) and then grabbed a 40 x 40 set of pixels from each client's site. Should make for an interesting collage. Click through and visit these sites:

project portfolio managementmaine giftsplastic containers
appointment scheduling softwarepet supplementspaint remover
analytical investingmedical scrubspink tool belt
goat cheeseunique personalized giftsmedical evacuation membership

I'm honored to have these companies as clients from 2007 and look forward to working with them in 2008. Happy New Year!

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