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Mar 10 2006
Google and MSFT
My colleague Mike Boland and I were up in Redmond yesterday. We were there to discuss local and various trends in the markets we cover. At lunch there was some casual discussion about project Origami, which "launched" today. Here's more information. And here's a photo.

Getting the right form factor is one piece of the mobile-local search puzzle. We don't really cover hardware but we watch the "space" because if there's a device that offers a great user experience in mobile it may help local search on mobile devices take off. There's all kinds of conflicting information about whether consumers want a single device that does everything or whether they're happy with separate devices � e.g., phones for calling, other devices for e-mail/Web access.

It's challenging for one device to do everything equally well (people have complained about the voice quality of some versions of the Treo for example). But as someone who has traveled quite a bit lately it would be great to have a single item that was a phone, could access e-mail and offered an "on the go" PC replacement option.

Meanwhile Google does buy online word processor Writely. Clearly it's intended to be a Word alternative on the Web (and consistent with the larger GDrive discussion). Here's an excerpt from the WSJ (sub. req'd) this morning:

The Internet search company said that it has bought closely held Upstartle LLC, whose Writely.com service lets users create, edit and share documents online. Terms weren't disclosed. Upstartle, based in Portola Valley, Calif., has four employees and was founded in late 2004.

The acquisition is part of Google's push into areas that compete with Microsoft. Google, of Mountain View, Calif., has used advertising revenue from Internet searches to support a host of free online services and software such as its Gmail e-mail service and Google Earth mapping software. Those services, in turn, are designed to attract more consumers onto its Web site and pull in more advertising.

To date, Google has played down speculation that it would extend that strategy to word processing and other services that compete with Microsoft's core personal-computer software business. The Upstartle deal is a step in that direction.

The Writely service has a spell checker and other features found on standard word-processing software such as Microsoft's Word, a part of the Office suite of programs installed on PCs. The difference is that Writely can be used by anyone with a Web browser, and it requires installation of no other software.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:34 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 9 2006
Notes and Observations From ADM
Yesterday, I attended the ADM regional meeting held here in Chicago, where I maintain the Midwest regional office for The Kelsey Group (which consists of me, a computer, phone and a tiny fridge filled with Diet Cokes).

The ADM is in the midst of a road show, which it does every year to update national YP agencies (CMRs) on what is happening in the directory business, particularly issues affecting national advertisers. These issues are many, and many seem never to go away (national surcharges and directory extensions, to offer just two examples).

Of particular interest was a presentation by Burt Michaels of Knowledge Networks/SRI on the new Yellow Pages Market Reporter. Burt offered some detail on what the current syndicated usage measurement service offers, and what it says about what's happening in local markets. Burt was pitching (in a low-key manner) CMRs to buy the research (13 have to date) and if they have it, to dive deeper into the data with custom reports.

Burt was understandably reluctant to offer too much detail on how share breakdowns occur in local markets, though he did share data on Manhattan that had already been widely disclosed. His overarching comment says a lot about where the print directory business is today.

"Audience fragmentation is a reality that you are going to have to deal with."

While there was an initial wave of dueling press releases on the usage data, what is emerging is the picture Burt lays out. In most markets, audience is spread among two or three or more products. Not always evenly, and as Burt notes, the nature of the audiences isn't always the same. But one-book buys are probably a thing of the past in most U.S. directory markets.

One apparently touchy point is the fact that just 13 CMRs have bought the research. One questioner at the meeting raised this issue, and the ADM responded by noting the 13 represent 60 percent of national sales. Nonetheless, the question (from a publisher I believe), shows some frustration among publishers that CMRs need to step up more and buy the data they have been asking publishers to produce for several years now. In fairness, most if not all of the most vocal CMRs have already bought the research.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  17:17 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 9 2006
Google Adds Demo Targeting to AdWords
One of the big benefits and differentiators of MSN's new adCenter product was to be the metrics/targeting surrounding demographics and other information on consumers that it plans to offer to advertisers. Now Google has added demographic targeting in addition to its other options.

Here's more from Andrew Goodman and the Search Engine Watch Blog (with lots of information about the targeting capabilities). Goodman says it's more about site selection than true demographic targeting at this point:

Essentially what this means is an improved functionality for the site selection tool, only applicable to content targeting of the "site targeting" variety. It's not a major foray into targeting search ads by demographics, then (yet).

SEW speculates that this is intended to preempt adCenter, which was slated to begin an open sign-up on Monday.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:10 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 9 2006
Yahoo! Shines a Light on Subtleties of Search
I'm late writing about this but before SES I was in New York as a panelist in Yahoo!'s first Search Light Award event. It brought together four finalist ad agencies to show how they'd integrated search marketing into their broader campaigns and to discuss and answer questions about their efforts.

The event was organized by Yahoo!'s Ron Belanger, formerly of Carat. iMedia's Kevin Ryan has a very detailed write-up of the event here. The winner was RPA Interactive for its Honda Element campaign (I voted for this one but they still didn't give me the car).

This event was great and helped bring together a number of things for me and send me down a path toward more "nuanced" thinking about search and how consumers interact with it � and some of the implications for marketers.

Search has historically been perceived as a direct response medium. More recently there's been a great deal of talk about it being a "branding" medium. Some skeptics believe this is merely a ploy to lure ad budgets online. Some time ago I tried to characterize it as something in between true awareness and direct response. Two older, relevant posts along those lines here and here (forgive the formatting problems).

In my observation, a majority of the folks at SES still want to see search marketing as direct response; it's a much less complicated animal that way. Also, tracking and ROI are more straightforward in that context. But in fact search and the way consumers interact with it is much more dynamic and complex. Here's a previous post about how local and national campaigns can serve both direct response and branding objectives based upon user behavior and the different stages of the "buying cycle" they appeal to.

The "integrated" campaigns presented at the Yahoo! Searchlight event really helped demonstrate to me the way that search often sits in the middle between some stimulus (traditional marketing) and a buying decision that happens elsewhere (usually locally, in the real world). Yet measuring the efficacy of search as a quasi branding tool is fundamentally challenging and figuring out what happens "after the click" is also challenging. Indeed, search doesn't get credit for all the transactions it actually affects because the tracking isn't being done (one of the reasons calls are important).

But back to the campaigns. Two of the finalists, Chase and Honda, were actually able to create search "inventory" by building search campaigns around unique elements in their traditional creative � terms that no one was bidding for but them. This was a very significant "takeaway" for me. Rather than having to relentlessly bid on "credit card," Chase was able to stimulate consumer searches for unique terms that appeared in its print ad campaign that no other company was competing for and thus were cheap by comparison. The implications of this are immediate and obvious.

And there were many more interesting aspects to the event and the campaigns presented. Another thing to think about is how brand and direct response marketers might soon be bidding against each other for the same terms but with different objectives and ROI calculations. Very interesting to consider.

One thing that is now clear about the Internet and search in particular: Consumers hear/read about or see something and they immediately or ultimately wind up online looking for more information. Where do they typically start? Search engines. That's not going to change soon and it's true even if it's just to plug a company name into the toolbar or search box to go directly to a site (essentially a White Pages lookup).

Rather than fear search, traditional marketers need to see search as an inevitable part of consumer behavior and leverage that behavior to maximize and extend the value of their traditional campaigns. If they don't their competitors will.


Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:00 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 9 2006
Web Bests TV in the U.K.
Here's a MediaPost write-up (reg. req'd) of data from a piece of TNS research in the U.K. that shows people (almost all ages) are spending somewhat more time online than watching TV:

The study, based on a February survey of 1030 British residents between the ages of 16 and 64, found that the average Web user spends 164 minutes � or almost three hours � each day online, compared to just 148 minutes watching TV.

According to the piece, U.S. residents spend roughly eqivalent amouts of time online and watching TV.

In a way the U.K. survey is not surprising. It's even to be expected since people can "surf" while they work but few can watch TV � so the Internet is much more available to people throughout the day.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  06:26 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 9 2006
'Social Networking' Site LinkedIN Approaching Profitability
When we wrote our "social networking" White Paper back in late 2004, the question on everyone's minds then was, "but where's the business model?"

"Social networking" is a term that has less and less meaning now that "social media" is becoming quite mainstream (or at least a part of almost every new online offering). But one of the early sites, and something of a survivor in the space, LinkedIN announced that premium services had helped move the company toward profitability, which it will achieve very soon.

There were a number of sites in the business networking space, most of which no longer exist. Heavy credit must go to tireless (dare I say "relentless") :) marketer Konstantin Guericke, VP of marketing and cofounder of LinkedIn. And no, I'm not on his payroll. LinkedIN was quick and creative and able to establish critical mass. It's kind of like the MySpace of networking � although it existed before MySpace and right now that may not be such a compliment.

We use LinkedIN for our pre/post-conference networking and it has worked out nicely. If you're coming to Drilling Down and would like to take advantage of that, click here.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  05:22 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 9 2006
TV Ads, Call Tracking and Local Stores
Donna Bogatin, CEO of VIPOffers.com and a speaker at last year's ILM show on "hyper-local" sites, pointed out an interesting article on a TV campaign being used (and tracked) by eBay drop-off store QuikDrop to build awareness and drive inquiries to the local QuikDrop outlets.

According to the article:

Consumers can respond to the ads by calling a toll-free telephone number, then leaving a voice-mail message that is automatically e-mailed as an attached audio file to an eBay listing expert in the nearest QuikDrop store, who returns the call and offers advice on many types of household items that sell well on eBay. QuikDrop has franchised stores in 24 states.

Apparently the TV campaign has been very effective. One of the most interesting aspects of it is how phone tracking is tied in both as a functional element of the ad (and routed locally) as well as a tracking tool to measure success.

Ironically, as search moves out of a pure direct response model, TV and other media increasingly will incorporate direct response elements in order to prove their effectiveness or lack thereof � as the case may be.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  04:46 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 8 2006
Google Click Fraud Settlement
Google has apparently agreed to pay the equivialent of $90 million (yikes!) to settle a click fraud class action. Here's the AP story. According to third-party data compiled by eMarketer, SEMPO found that "the percentage of advertisers who say that click fraud, the artificial inflation of click through numbers, is a growing problem tripled in 2005, to 16%. Elsewhere, a survey by IntelliSurvey Inc. and Radar Research reports that, among respondents surveyed, 46% of all advertisers with 500 or more employees have been a victim of click fraud."

According to the AP story:

The proposed settlement ... would apply to all advertisers in Google's network during the past four years. Any Web site showing improper charges dating back to 2002 will be eligible for an account credit that could be used toward future ads distributed by Google.

This settlement must indicate that the case had some teeth because Google clearly has the resources to fight the case to the end. (Yahoo! was also a defendant and said it will fight.) This is also not a nuisance settlement at this dollar level.

One question is whether this settlement will bar future suits. There are a host of complex rules surrounding class-action litigation and who can be bound by settlements. It may be that this settlement was justified from Google's point of view because it will largely prevent � certainly at a class-action level � this sort of litigation in the future. (That's not entirely clear right now to me.)

The terms of the settlement appear to require actual proof of click fraud to get the credit and seem to extend to any Google advertiser over the past four years. So as a practical matter Google may wind up "paying" less than the stated potential value of the settlement.

And while this settlement may bar future legal action, it won't necessarily address advertiser concerns and complaints today; only an effective transparent policy on click fraud will do that. But Google knows that.

__________

Here's Google's official statement.

Related (only generally): Here's the SEW blog's nice roundup of tidbits released intentionally and otherwise surrounding Google analyst day.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  19:39 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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