free html hit counter March 2008 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Watch Me Buy

By - March 31, 2008

Hmmm. How do you all feel about targeting?

These days, the only Internet users who aren’t aware that some of their activities are being tracked and used for marketing purposes are those who just joined yesterday. In fact, almost three-quarters of those surveyed by TNS Global on behalf of consumer privacy organization TRUSTe said that they are aware that their browsing history “may be collected” for advertising purposes. They’re not necessarily happy about it, though, and almost all have indicated that they would like to have more of a say in how their information is used.

As you know, I’ve got my opinion right here.

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Huh. 10% of FBook Folks Are Xooglers

By - March 29, 2008

From Justin:

Since there’s been a lot of press lately about Googlers jumping ship for Facebook, I thought I’d search Facebook’s network to see how many folks at the company used to work at Google. As it turns out, over 40, or almost 10% – and mostly engineering or product people.

Yahoo Marketing: Why Not Take A Page From Intel Inside?

By - March 28, 2008

As Seen On Tv

I’ve heard Yahoo’s local radio ads a few times while driving around the Bay area. I’m going to save my detailed thoughts on them to an audio post, but suffice to say, I had mixed feelings when I heard them. Radio ads in general seem to play over on the stupid side of the yard, but what I found interesting was the direct mention of Google – twice – and the use of an associated wolf howl. Webmasterworld thread on the new ads is here. story here.

Regardless, offline marketing of search can, no doubt, boost share. Why? Because honestly, there’s not much further down Yahoo’s share can go. With Ask all but throwing in the towel, Yahoo is one notch closer to the bottom (yeah, I know, Microsoft is lower, but I sense they could be, as many in the industry have said to me, lying in the weeds for a reason….).

Marketing can work. For a fleeting moment, before its evisceration, Ask proved it. But tactical and experimental marketing -which clearly is what Yahoo’s radio play is all about – has to keep brand in mind. The radio ads, well, they may move the sampling needle, but I’m not sure about the overall brand.

Who’s watching that for Yahoo right now?

But wait! There’s more!

Tonight I saw a Yahoo integration with a Honda television ad (it was a reasonably annoying green ad, but that’s a bit besides the point, as the Honda brand overall has a good vibe). The integration struck me as smart, poorly executed, but possibly very important.

At the end, it showed the Yahoo search interface (it looks nice all alone) and said “For special deals (or something like that), search for Shop Honda on Yahoo”.

Of course, the first time I tried it, I only put in “Honda”. Who remembers to search for “Shop Honda”? Here is the search and the resulting image at the top of the results:

Honda Integration

I think the execution leaves a lot to be desired. First, it does not acknowledge the TV tie in. That breaks a cardinal rule of conversational marketing. The call to action, the initiation of the dialog, was on TV. I responded by searching for Honda on Yahoo. Then I got the above result. While clearly different (it’s an “enhanced paid listing”), it should at least acknowledge a link to the original conversation starter – hell, an “As Seen on TV” would have been better. The call to action implied I was going to get something cool for my effort of searching on Yahoo. The response did not pay off.

Now, when you search for “Shop Honda“, you get something a bit more conversational.

Yahoo Honda 2

Not there, but better. The landing page is also a bit more customized (you get a shopping interface!), but man, it’s a huge dropped ball. I mean, come on. If someone takes the time to respond to a call to action from a television commercial, at least acknowledge it, thank them for it, and offer some value exchange for the initiation of dialog. But no, nothing like that.

Regardless, I see in this the seed of a very, very good idea in this. I am not sure what the business deal was, but I could imagine really blowing it out along the lines of the Intel Inside campaign (in this pioneering partner marketing program, Intel pays its partners to runs Intel Inside branding in the partner ads. It works.) If Yahoo’s going to spend marketing dollars to gain share, it has to do it in a major, integrated way. Why not partner with major national brand advertisers, partially underwriting their TV advertising with an final few frames that say “Search for {insert brand here} on Yahoo for special offers” or somesuch? Once the effort proves itself out in conversions, this marketing program could well become a major money maker for Yahoo. Regardless, it’ll really build the brand as an option for commercial searching, in a good way, if it’s run with quality, transparency, value and engagement in mind.

Tweak the enhanced listings, offers, and landing pages to better reflect the best practices of conversational marketing, and there could really be a there there. But of course, that takes brand understanding, and what with the focus on ad networks….well.

This idea plays off the one thing Yahoo is (or used to be) really good at – understanding brand advertisers. You can’t write an algorithm to do this. You have to think like a human being. It scales, but not without applying conversations to all parts of the execution – and that’s scaling humans where humans scale best.

Just a thought.

Seen on Facebook

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This house ad. Love the implied jab at Google.

On My Reading List

By - March 27, 2008

Traveling, jet lag, early meetings, not a lot of time to write. But I did draft two big piece on the plane, and hope to polish them on the way home. That said, here are the things that caught my eye as important over the past 36 hours:

Search with privacy via the EFF

Google paid click numbers look anemic via Mashable and Blodget

Yahoo puts its logo in the middle via Philipp (why? I can tell you why…)

More Google to Facebook defections via TC

Add videos to local business profiles at Google via SEL (huh. Is Google asking the web to change behaviors to … help Google win in local?!)

Google and the demographic fix from TC

Biased, dumbass headline of the day from the WSJ

Branding Coming To Search In A Big Way from SEL

Travel Day

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Yesterday I had eye an opening day at Yahoo and Google, I plan to write up each in the coming days. But today I am traveling, so posting will be light.

Reporting Day

By - March 25, 2008

I’m driving down to the Valley today to see folks at Google and Yahoo. Light day for writing, but hope to gain some insights.

Yahoo, Google, MySpace Launch NotFaceBook Coalition

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Er…I mean the OpenSocial Foundation. This marks Yahoo’s formal joining up. Expect Facebook to join too. Wire coverage.

From a release sent to me by Yahoo:

Yahoo! supports OpenSocial; Yahoo!, MySpace and Google to form non-profit OpenSocial Foundation

Community organization to assure neutrality and longevity of specification for building social applications across the web

SUNNYVALE/LOS ANGELES/MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. (March 25, 2008)—Yahoo!, MySpace, and Google today announced they have agreed to form the OpenSocial Foundation to ensure the neutrality and longevity of OpenSocial as an open, community-governed specification for building social applications across the web. Yahoo!’s support of OpenSocial and role as a founding member of the new foundation are landmarks for the rapidly growing specification which will now offer developers the potential to connect with more than 500 million people worldwide.

The OpenSocial Foundation will be an independent non-profit entity with a formal intellectual property and governance framework; related assets will be assigned to the new organization by July 1, 2008. The foundation will provide transparency and operational guidelines around technology, documentation, intellectual property, and other issues related to the evolution of the OpenSocial platform, while also ensuring all stakeholders share influence over its future direction.

Outside Lands Announces Lineup – Wow

By - March 24, 2008

Outsidelands Logo Lo[6]

Outside Lands announced its lineup (it announced its headliners earlier) and

They added Beck, Wilco, Broken Social Scene, Ben Harper, Manu Chao, and tons of others to an already amazing list. I’ll be there!