Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

For every $1 spent on search, Google gets $1.10

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

I just saw the headlines from a report this week that Google is earning $1.10 of every new search dollar spent. This didn’t make sense (obviously) because Google is magic, but I couldn’t imagine how they were creating money out of nothing. Turns out that the explanation is simpler:

“For every new dollar spent on search in Q2 2008 versus Q2 2007, $1.10 went to Google. Yahoo lost $0.09, and Microsoft lost $0.01. In other words, advertisers are putting all of their new search dollars into Google, and pulling money out of Yahoo Search and Microsoft Live Search.”

Dollar BillLooks like Efficient Frontier Insights, the company that published Search Engine Performance Report: Q2 2008, is looking for publicity with that headline, because it isn’t really accurate. Google may be taking money away from Yahoo and MSN, but they aren’t taking $1.10 of every NEW dollar. Google may be taking old dollars away from its competitors, but it isn’t creating money out of nothing.

Nevertheless, the news remains strong for search advertising. Some other highlights from the report – CPC rates increased for all three search giants compared to Q2 of last year, as did ROI.

Google doodles winner

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

I posted this article last week about the Doodle 4 Google contest, and today is the day that the winner appears on the www.google.com home page. Congratulations to Grace Moon, a 6th grader from California, whose vision of a world that’s “clean and fresh” where “people are social and enlightened” won first prize.

Google Doodle winner 2

Google doodles

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

This is fun. Looks like Google is holding a contest for kids in K-12 grades called Doodle 4 Google. According to the official Google page about the contest:

Doodle 4 Google is a competition where we invite K-12 students to reinvent Google’s homepage logo. This year we asked U.S. kids to doodle around the theme “What if…?”

You can see the 40 finalists on the Google 4 Doodle page, they are grouped in four different age groups. I’ve included my favorite from each group below, but they are all outstanding, go take a look and vote when you’re at it. The winner will replace the Google logo on the homepage on May 22.

What if…?

Grades K-3

Fish swollowed google

What if a fish swallowed a Google? He might oogle, zoogle, or boogle. He might get full before the gle and eat only the Goo. Poogle! The Goo comes out. And the fish goes swimming about.

Grades 4-6

Space Google

For my “what if” question, I thought and thought and the idea that kept coming into my head was, what if we could explore all of space. I mean if you think about it, we do not know that much about the universe that we live in. (This idea is especially relevant today, with this announcement pending at 1pm EST.)

Grades 7-9

 Escher Google

What if M.C. Escher and his perspective of unreal possibilities became a mascot for Google. He took our understanding of the world around us and re-examined it using his own personal lens. He helps us see possibilities before we could imagine them. Isn’t that what Google does today by fostering our own ability to invent and share new ideas?

Grades 10-12

Wisdom Google

What if… What if wisdom and power were at your fingertips. You just might have the answer for everything – Google

Why I'm kissing Tumblr a sad, sad good-bye

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

My company has a lot of blogs for the various businesses that I’m starting - 52 to be exact. Most of them are run on WordPress, which I really like, one is run on an old install of TypePad (which is clunky, but might be because I need to update), and one is run on Tumblr.

I love Tumblr. I love the user interface, the way that you can post quick snippets of things. Quotes, pictures, text, links…it is fun to use. And the templates are awesome. The Cara Austin blog is on Tumblr, and it’s a delight to update every day.

Sad Good ByeBut there is a fundamental problem with Tumblr that I wasn’t aware of before I started using it – the search engines don’t seem to like it. In the two months since I have been posting (every weekday starting March 13, 123 posts total), the blog has only received 17 visitors from Google. Every one of those visits, except one, had the term “Cara Austin blog” or “Cara Austin Tumblr” as the search term.

This is a major problem for a commercial blog. I have a personal Tumblr that I use for my own things, notes, things I want to remember – and I don’t care if no one ever comes to that site. But for Cara Austin, a musician who needs to get her name out there and needs to sell albums, this is a big issue.

I didn’t know this about Tumblr. I didn’t know that the pages wouldn’t be indexed well (or show up high) on Google. I knew that Tumblr doesn’t have comments. And I knew that Tumblr didn’t have a search engine built in. These things I decided to live with.

But I didn’t know that Tumblr had a search engine optimization (SEO) problem.

I could no longer ignore the fact after I launched another new blog on WordPress on April 23, put up a few posts, and that blog starting receiving more traffic, from a wider variety of search terms, in a much shorter time period.

Here’s a little chart to illustrate:

Tumblr SEO chart

And so I’m leaving Tumblr. I’m leaving with a tear in my eye, but I’m leaving nonetheless.

Photo by Jaye_Elle

Stop scheduling meetings on Tuesdays and get to work

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

I might be the last person to know this, but Tuesday is the most productive day of the week. I was alerted to this fact by this blog post, which pointed to some research by Robert Half International. But then when I went to dig in deeper, Tuesday-is-the-most-productive-day-ever was all over the Internet. 

This article says that in 2002, 1998 &1987 the data showed the same thing – Tuesday is the most productive day of the week at work.

Here’s a piece from 2002 talking about how Tuesday is the best day to get work done.

Tuesday biology bookAnd then there’s this 1994 book: Office Biology or Why Tuesday Is Your Most Productive Day and Other Relevant Facts for Survival in the Workplace. There is a whole book about how Tuesdays are so productive. How could I have missed this incredibly important fact for all these years?

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical at first. I wasn’t really sure that Tuesday was my go-to day of productivity. Then I was reading a post by Steve Rubel on his Micro Persuasion blog about becoming an expert, and in the post, Rubel included a chart of his Google Reader reading habits. And then it dawned on me that I should check my stats in Google Reader to see what they showed.

I typically read RSS feeds from Google Reader at about the same rate every day, with the exception of the weekends. Or so I thought! Here are my trends for the last 30 days:

Those big spikes? Those are Tuesdays!

Last 30 days

Here is the day of week chart:

Day of week chart 

And just for fun, here’s the time of day chart. Anyone who knows me well – or ever worked with me – will not be surprised at the early morning lull.

Time of day 

So what does all this mean? For me, it means that it’s time to take some deliberate action. If I am more produtive on Tuesdays, I’m going to be proactive about keeping that day as productive as possible. I am not going to schedule meetings on Tuesdays, for example, because meetings break up the flow of my day. And I plan to complete one major, sticky, important-but-difficult or important-but-boring project every Tuesday. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

What do you think? And what do your *Trends* show? Is Tuesday your go-to day?

*If you use Google Reader, you can find this data by clicking the Trends link at the top of the left-hand navigation in Google Reader.

You know about YouTube, but have you heard of Hulu or Joost?

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

My latest article just went up at The Industry StandardYouTube, Hulu & Joost: Is there room all three video sites? Go give it a read.

In that article, I cite some statistics from Compete.com and point to the graphic on those stats – here it is:

 

I wasn’t really able to go into all the pros and cons of the various services in that article, but thought I would take a bit of time to break things down a bit more here. First of all, YouTube is kicking all other video services butts, and will continue to do so. It has momentum, users and let’s be honest – it’s fun (and easy) to use. Not to mention that YouTube is owned by Google so there is bound to be continuing innovation with the service, which Robert Scoble claims is in the pipeline as I write this.

Joost is in some trouble. The main issue, as far as I can tell, is that they require users to download their proprietary player in order to watch any Joost videos. I was on the site and wanted to check out an episode of MacGyver (who doesn’t?), but I didn’t because I didn’t want to take the time to download Joost to my computer. This will kill them if they don’t fix it.

I love Hulu so far. I am a sucker for a clean design and easy-to-use interface, and Hulu has both. Plus, there were a bunch of TV shows and clips on the site that I was interested in watching, and with a simple click, I was in business. It was easy to use, the video was high-quality and my experience was great. But Hulu isn’t perfect. For example, it’s not available internationally (there are licensing issues), and it has a limited number of videos available at any given time. Perhaps the weirdest thing about Hulu is that although it features embeddable videos, after a period of time those links break because the videos are pulled off the site. Weird. But even so, I really like Hulu.

In fact, here’s a clip from Hulu for your viewing pleasure (at least it will be pleasant if you like The Office). And this is another user testimony for Hulu – even though I know that this video will no longer be available one day, I like the service so much that I am willing to risk it.

New online video technology launches; has a viable advertising model

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Online video is already huge and getting bigger all the time. At least 75% of Internet users watch videos online and 8 hours of video content being uploaded to YouTube EVERY MINUTE. But there is a problem with online video because no one has (yet) figured out a long-term viable advertising model that will work with video. Google (which owns YouTube) is certainly working on it, but all the models that have debuted so far – pre-roll, post-roll, sponsorship – have fallen short because none of the formats have taken advantage of the inherent interactivity of the Internet. That is, until now.

I just took a look at what Revision3 and VideoClix have teamed up to put together and it’s great. Not only is the ad format interesting and cool, it’s also fairly unobtrusive and seems tailor-made for the Internet’s interactive format.

The first video to debut with the new technology is Diggnation (although all of Revision3′s videos will have the technology shortly). Watchers are able to interact with the video as it’s playing. When a viewer clicks on an item in the video that has additional information included, an area is displayed to the right of the video that has the details about the item, as well as room for advertising or additional vendor information.

Diggnation screenshot

This is clever. For one thing, the information that was provided was fun and interesting. (For example, I found out that the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam has rooms that range from 1 to 5 stars and one of the rooms has a shower in the middle of the room.) I wanted to click every link in the video to find out more about the video that I was watching, the clothes that the hosts were wearing, and even to see what computers they were using. Since my clicks didn’t stop the video, I was able to click around when something was happening that I was less interested in watching and I didn’t have to miss anything that I didn’t want to miss.

My prediction – this online advertising format will be viable and long-lasting, particularly in the consumer market. Clickable video is here to stay.

Comscore's take on the Google click data: Not that surprising

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Comscore logoEarlier this week, Comscore released some data on Google paid click numbers that caused Google stock to take a nosedive, based on reports from a variety of news sources that this was a sure indicator that Google was vulnerable to a recession.

Today, in a blog post, Comscore gave its take on the data - “Why Google’s surprising paid click data are less surprising.” The main point? That the data that Comscore released may have been incorrectly analyzed by almost everyone who read it:

“The information triggered a flurry of reactions in the media and the financial community that centered on two concerns: 1) a potentially weak first quarter outlook for Google, and 2) an indication that a soft U.S. economy is beginning to drag down the online advertising market.

“While we do not claim that these concerns are unwarranted, we believe a careful analysis of our search data does not lend them direct support. More specifically, the evidence suggests that the softness in Google’s paid click metrics is primarily a result of Google’s own quality initiatives that result in a reduction in the number of paid listings and, therefore, the opportunity for paid clicks to occur.”

I continue to be of the opinion that the drop in click-through rates isn’t a negative thing and is primarily the result of Google’s ongoing efforts to combat click-fraud and accidental clicks to its ads. 

I also think that Google is likely going to have slower growth if the entire economy goes into a recession. Afterall, what media company isn’t vulnerable in a recession?

About.com's CEO to leave. Yawn.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

About.com logoThe news is just out today that About.com’s CEO Scott Meyer is leaving the company.

I have been following About.com for years, primarily because I have been in the business of building content networks and About.com has been around in this space for a long time. At this point, About.com is one of the saddest sites on the Web. I mean, it’s owned by the New York Times Company, one of the most venerable content producers EVER, and what has About.com done in the past few years? It has just about maintained the status quo with its network of Web sites – About.com gets traffic, but that’s about it.

Do you know anyone who loyally follows About.com? Can you name an About.com guide?

About.com should be doing something more, different and interesting. They have traffic, they have a strong parent company, they have a solid brand name, they have expert content producers in every niche…but yet, they are so, well, boring.

From the NYT annual report, courtesty of paidContent.org:

“We estimate that approximately 70% of About.com’s traffic is generated through search engines, while an estimated 25% of its users enter through its home and channel pages and 5% come from links from other Web sites and blogs. Our other Web sites also rely on search engines for traffic, although to a lesser degree than the Web sites of the About Group. “

Yawn.

Perhaps Scott Meyer is moving on in hopes of doing something a little more interesting.

Consumers not the cause of Google's slide

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Google logoGoogle’s stock price is dropping, and people are freaking out. Yesterday’s stock price drop was in response to a recent report from Comscore indicating that January 2008 showed only flat growth year-over-year versus a 25% increase in Q4. This apparently is the result of lower click-through rates on paid search ads, and people are worried that this means that Google is exposed to a slowdown if there is a recession in the U.S.

The near-panic is somewhat understandable considering that the overall U.S. economy isn’t doing all that great, the tech folks are scared of another bubble, Microsoft is talking about taking over Google, Apple’s stock is dipping, and everyone is looking for someone – anyone – to believe in. Google has been the obvious choice for a long time, and no one wants the tech darling to falter.

But the thing that I take issue with is the notion that this decrease in clicks is a result of consumers clicking less because of a coming recession. These numbers from Hitwise show that there has been no decrease in overall search traffic to shopping sites – meaning that consumers are still clicking.

And if consumers are still clicking on search links, why would they suddenly not be clicking on paid search ads? Could this be because consumers suddenly have become more discerning about what is a “paid” result vs. what is a “organic” result? No way.

My question for Google would be about how much of this decline comes from the dip in clicks on AdSense partner sites. My bet is that the clickthrough rates have dipped significantly on partner pages. Why? Primarily because of the click fraud prevention that Google has been implementing, as well as the “accidental clicking” measures that Google took back in November.

Google click change

Remember, this was the second change that Google made to its ads; the company first changed the paid results on its main search pages in April, a move that many advertisers said led to a decline in the number of clicks, but not in the amount of revenue that they were earning.

And this might just be the bottom line. If there is no growth in the number of clicks, but revenue is growing, Google may have figured out a way to increase ROI for advertisers. Like this Businessweek article says, we’ll have to wait for earnings in April to find out for sure.