Why Yahoo! Has “Search Marketing Madness”?

23 January, 2009

Is there a Comedian in the house?I know I’m not the only one, as I have seen many posts like this: Yahoo! can now change…

“Are Yahoo! now so hard up that they have to add keywords to the accounts of their advertisers.”

Or this: Yahoo! gives itself permission…

“This is kind of like a fast food restaurant going into your burger after you’ve take a bite…”


Too true… and I had a chunk bitten out last month on a campaign I run for a popular site. I was just updating my campaigns and I saw that several files had been uploaded and ‘approved’. Yet I only update via the web-based service as their download/upload process is worse than clicking through the pages (hefty note to Yahoo! – you want me to put more than one ad up? then YOU make it easy for me to do so!!). So, how did these files get there?

You see, the truth of PPC is that they WANT you to focus on CPC and CTRs rate because that’s how they earn their juice. So Yahoo’s actions are all about increasing clicks by ‘improving’ ad copy and keyword range.Silly Save Message

I expect they had a meeting in Yahoo! towers and decided that all their clients were cretins and were deliberately ignoring that pop up that they’ve had for over a year now which deliberately hides the ‘save’ button with this message (look right).

No, I have seen it many, many times but I am not going to put another ad up because I use Google to optimise my ad copy because they have all the traffic to test effectively and their system is so much more user friendly than Yahoo’s. Simple, really.

Generously, Yahoo! gave me a refund. I explained to them on the phone that whilst they can provide me with the service, I did not request or authorise these changes and should they continue to do so I just wouldn’t bother with their system.

But it still confuses me… why does Yahoo! go about their business in such a cack-handed way? Fair enough Google and MSN also offer assistance in optimisation – but it’s on request and always as a test.

Well, the truth of the matter is that I don’t know the answer to this, but I will vote with my feet and if I see them messing around again, I will shut it down. Any advertiser knows that they need to sign off the creative and campaign. Yahoo! please step down and visit the real world. Please.

Comment Ranking Is Outta Whack

22 December, 2008

Yes, the time stamp is correct.  I am in GMT and not some other Time Zone.  While working to finish a deck on Twitter, Social Media and Real Time Search…

I went looking for the recent John Battelle post on this and found a comment I made on Google and Live Search was in the Top 10.  Might not be that strange to some, but was to me.

Live Search


 Google Search

Especially, when the post I commented on is nowhere to be found in the results and it does correlate.

No More Paper – at least in the name

19 December, 2008

Maybe I am missing something, but shouldn’t they have already done this?

The American Society of Newspaper Editors is consider removing the world ‘paper’ from the organizations name. Changing it to American Society of News Editors. I agree this with BuzzMachine and say we are in the post-paper era. The name newspaper or magazine or broadcaster or even radio in the future simply will refer to the historic roots of an online media business. Interesting to note that the frequency of publication goes from daily/weekly/monthly (newspaper vs. magazine etc) to minutes/seconds online… And there are no schedules online. Note: this riff is going to form part of my ‘digital manifesto for publishers’ look for this post before the end the year.

Online Ad Spend Still Projected to Grow in the UK

19 December, 2008


The predicted growth on online ad spend – reported by NMA and the Telegraph– in the UK is a glimmer of positive news in the light of all the other economic and credit turmoil. Even with 2009 shaping up to be a very tough year and growth predictions now lower, overall online should still be up year on year. AdViking agrees that majority of this growth will be search and performance display based (ie, a focus on DR = direct response). We also think that web video should start to pick up in the second half of ’09.

The Kids Are Going to be All Right

19 December, 2008

I’ve had a long time post brewing about the youth of today and how they are global and social from Day 0 from the use of virtual worlds like Disney’s Club Penguin.  The thinking is still far from over but the post ends with my concerns for the widening of the digital divide.

Then, you read about how Club Penguin are running Coins for Change for the 2nd year and you think you know what, the kids are going to be all right.

Coins for Change

New Horizons, an organization spearheaded by the site’s founders, shall divide a $1 million donation between three charities. Users donate virtual coins to their charity of choice, thereby “voting” on the proportion of the $1 million donation each charity receives.

Lane Merrifield Executive Vice President Walt Disney Internet Group, Co-founder and General Manager Club Penguin says this:

Our hope is that Coins for Change helps children in the Club Penguin community understand there is more to life than just earning coins, and encourages them to make a difference in the lives of kids throughout the world,

Last year more than 2.5 million players donated in excess of two billion virtual coins. They’ve been asking us for another opportunity to give ever since and we can’t wait to see the results!

Some may take a cynical view that the coins are just virtual, etc. but in my opinion the value of the in-game money is something of real value to the players (I mean look at the discussions of the economies of  WOW and Second Life) and therefore, scratch my title.

The Kids Are All Right!

Microsoft Confirm Qi Lu as Kevin Johnson Replacement

4 December, 2008

As predicted by Kara Swisher in AllThingsDigital this morning, yt’s just been announced that Microsoft has replaced Kevin Johnson with Qi Lu and that Brian McAndrews is leaving.  It’s also been announced there is shuffling underneath, which on the surface the most interesting looks to be the Global Advertising Sales and Services organization moving into a more centralised position.

On initial thoughts, AdViking thinks that in choosing Dr. Qi Lu, Steve Ballmer has made an inspired choice.  I mean, the general chatter was about a business/market guy was going to get the job and then they appoint a well regarded Search-technologist (20 patents, etc.).  So in terms of Microsoft culture, this guy is going to walk in and the Office and Windows teams are going to be giving him props.

Now if you mash that up against the FAST and Powerset acquisitions, the European Search Center, etc. it’s great to see the effort that is being made to try and take the game to Google.

Generally response looks to be positive but Henry Blodget at Silicon Alley Insider provides a good outline on the width of the group that Qi Lu is inheriting and therefore highlights some of the issues.

Here’s the full Press Release:

Microsoft Appoints Dr. Qi Lu to Run Online Services Group

Yahoo! veteran to oversee Internet offerings for consumers, advertisers and publishers.

REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 4, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Dr. Qi Lu will join the company as president of the Online Services Group. Dr. Lu will lead Microsoft’s efforts in search and online advertising and all the company’s online information and communications services. Dr. Lu will report to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.

Lu most recently served as executive vice president of Engineering for the Search and Advertising Technology Group at Yahoo!, where he was responsible for development efforts around Yahoo!’s Web search and monetization platforms. Dr. Lu left Yahoo! in August 2008 after 10 years of service.

Dr. Qi Lu will join Microsoft as president of the Online Services Group effective Jan. 5, 2009.

Dr. Qi Lu will join Microsoft as president of the Online Services Group effective Jan. 5, 2009.

“I am tremendously excited to welcome Qi to Microsoft,” Ballmer said. “Dr. Lu’s deep technical expertise, leadership capabilities and hard-working mentality are well-known in the technology industry, and Microsoft will benefit from his addition to our executive management team.”

“I am genuinely excited about the opportunities ahead for Microsoft to make an enormous impact on the online industry,” Dr. Lu said. “Microsoft has built a great foundation for its search and advertising technologies and put an amazing team of researchers and engineers in place to drive the next wave of innovation in online services. I’m looking forward to working with them to help transform the way people and businesses use the Internet to find and share information.”

Before his most recent role at Yahoo!, Lu was vice president of engineering responsible for the technology development of Yahoo!’s Search and Marketplace business unit, which includes the company’s search, e-commerce, and local listings of businesses and products.

Before joining Yahoo! in 1998, Dr. Lu was a Research Staff Member at IBM Almaden Research Center. Before IBM, Dr. Lu worked at Carnegie Mellon University as a Research Associate, and at Fudan University in China as a faculty member. Dr. Lu holds 20 U.S. patents, and received his bachelor of science and master of science in computer science from Fudan University and his Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Lu’s first day at Microsoft will be Jan. 5, 2009. In his role running the Online Services Group, he will oversee several groups including the Advertiser & Publisher Solutions business, managed by Scott Howe who was promoted to corporate vice president; the Online Audience business, managed by Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi; OSG Research & Development, managed by Senior Vice President Satya Nadella; and OSG Finance, managed by Rik van der Kooi who was promoted to corporate vice president.

With the successful integration of aQuantive now complete, Brian McAndrews, former CEO of aQuantive and senior vice president of Microsoft’s Advertiser & Publisher Solutions Group, has decided to transition out of Microsoft, and will do so over the next several months, serving in a consultative capacity to Steve Ballmer and Qi Lu during that time.

“Brian McAndrews built a world-class business for advertisers and publishers and led the successful integration of aQuantive into Microsoft, setting the foundation for our next phase of growth,” Ballmer said. “While I am sorry to see Brian leave the company, I respect and understand his decision and wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

“I also want to congratulate Scott and Rik on their well-deserved promotions and look forward to their leadership in the Online Services Group alongside Qi, Yusuf and Satya,” Ballmer said.

As part of today’s announcement, several teams will move to further align resources. The field sales organizations in the Online Services Group will move to Microsoft’s centralized Sales, Marketing and Services Group led by chief operating officer Kevin Turner. This group, called Consumer & Online, will be led by Corporate Vice President Darren Huston and will include the Global Advertising Sales and Services organization, led by vice president Bill Shaughnessy.

Also, though it doesn’t say much more than the PR you can read the Steve Ballmer  internal announcement that was  leaked on TechCrunch.

Disclosure: Some of AdViking is employed by FAST and Microsoft.  More details on About.

Online v. Offline P.R. Case Study…

2 December, 2008

CarQuake in the Press

CarQuake Online

It’s great when you have an opportunity to test the impact of PR… without even trying to.

We work with a new car deals website called CarQuake and, unexpectedly, on Sunday, it was referenced in an article in the Sunday Times Newspaper – and at the same time, it was also posted online on timesonline.co.uk

Want to know some numbers? Well, it’s not particularly surprising that direct and searched for ‘CarQuake’ visitors went up by about 600 on Sunday, and 400 on Monday which can be pretty much attributable to the newspaper article. It’s also not necessarily surprising that visitors direct from Times Online went up from 97 on Sunday to 104 on Monday – note that the figure rose at the start of the working week (get back to work!!).

And we can, sort of, put a value on these things if we know that a new visitor to CarQuake is ‘worth’ about 20p to the business (so the times mention, so far, is worth about £240 in direct attributable value, and about the same again in brand awareness).

However, we are expecting two things to happen:
a) That the timesonline.co.uk article will eventually pass the print version in terms of overall traffic generated as the ‘tail’ for online is 6 months plus (though it does deteriorate)
b) That we can see from our stats that the direct traffic (and search engine traffic from ‘CarQuake’ searches) is slightly ‘stickier’ than those from Times Online and convert better
Not to mention that the direct link from Times Online will benefit the search ranking of CarQuake in the medium to long term.

Still, it does mean that there are ways of measuring these things… it’s just whether you have the right tools in place to do the job! Ciao…