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Microsoft Signals…Something

By - May 18, 2008

Seems talks are on again and it’s either required or in Microsoft’s interest to release this statement today:

MICROSOFT ISSUES STATEMENT REGARDING YAHOO!

REDMOND, Wash. — May 18, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today issued the following statement:

“In light of developments since the withdrawal of the Microsoft proposal to acquire Yahoo! Inc., Microsoft announced that it is continuing to explore and pursue its alternatives to improve and expand its online services and advertising business. Microsoft is considering and has raised with Yahoo! an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo! but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo! Microsoft is not proposing to make a new bid to acquire all of Yahoo! at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that alternative depending on future developments and discussions that may take place with Yahoo! or discussions with shareholders of Yahoo! or Microsoft or with other third parties.

“There of course can be no assurance that any transaction will result from these discussions.”

Given that Yahoo is close to capitulating to Google and turning over its paid search, I sure hope they are considering this move (Soverture). Microsoft could buy the business (ie, pay what Google would make Yahoo right now), and together the two could hope to improve the results and earn into the deal.

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The Green Web

By - May 16, 2008

Header Tag Line

FM has partnered with Chevy to create a site that pulls together the best of sites on the web covering all things green. I’ve found it a nice way to stay in touch with a subject I’m increasingly interested in. I use the feed to monitor stuff, and then click through when there’s a story I want to engage in. Sure, it’s an FM project, so all the regular caveats apply. But judge for yourself. And if you don’t like it, well, tell me what we can do to make it better.

This is part of an ongoing trend I’m seeing, both at FM and certainly across the web, where marketers are providing a service to their potential customers in the form of supporting authentic media, as opposed to creating their own content and hoping it takes off. I like the trend.

Seems Dumb To Me

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Apparently there are all sorts of unofficial brand fan pages on Facebook. This story talks about how one of them, a fan page for Ralph Lauren, was disabled and transferred from the individual who started it to an “official” brand page on Facebook. As far as I can tell, this was done by Facebook at the behest of the brand. To Laruen’s credit, it wrote a nice note to the owner (duplicated in the post) and offered him money for his troubles. But I don’t think this is a very good idea. A brand should encourage fans to evangelize their brand, not buy them off and shut them down with a $200 gift certificate.

Facebook and Google: True Social Networking Friends

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From News.com:

A post Thursday on Facebook’s developer blog explains that the social network has suspended participation in Google’s “Friend Connect” project, citing a violation of its internal terms of service.

“Now that Google has launched Friend Connect, we’ve had a chance to evaluate the technology,” the post by Facebook employee Charlie Cheever read. “We’ve found that it redistributes user information from Facebook to other developers without users’ knowledge, which doesn’t respect the privacy standards our users have come to expect and is a violation of our Terms of Service.”

Now come on. You’re telling me Facebook agreed to be part of something before understanding the architecture and flow charts of how data would be used?

REALLY?

No, not really. Later down in the piece a Facebook employee claims Facebook was really never involved in the first place:

According to (Facebook Chief Privacy Officer) Kelly, the social network never actually had a formal partnership with Google in Friend Connect, which allows owners of Web sites to add social features using the existing APIs from sites like Hi5, Plaxo, and Facebook. “There wasn’t participation to start with. That was sort of a mis-impression that may have been formed by their release,” he said. “We weren’t briefed on how the Friend Connect product was going to work.”

Sounds like a spat between pretend friends on Facebook….But….It’s not clear to me that Facebook was ever part of Friend Connect. In any case, it’s interesting to grok the design choices by Google, love that Facebook blue they’ve got going:

Goog Facebook Blue

Google. Does. Not Market. Except When It Does.

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Over the years I have often pondered the connundrum of Google as a marketing driven company. On the one hand, this company is entirely driven by marketing – hundreds of thousands of businesses, small and large, marketing themselves through the global platform that is Google AdWords and Adsense. Let’s not kid ourselves, Google is the most impressive and important development in the history of marketing since the invention of television. And I’m not overstating it.

On the other hand, Google has made a point of how it grew without traditional marketing, how it never spends on marketing, how it’s unique that way. And yet, it’s become the most admired brand in the world! Witness: David Lawee, VP Marketing, last year in BizWeek:

Have you ever done any brand advertising just for Google? We do a lot of direct marketing. But not brand marketing.

Well, David, not true anymore. I’ve pointed this out over and over, but it’s worth repeating anyway: Google is great at harvesting brand demand, but not so good at creating that demand. It’s pretty straightforward: Demand creation = brand, Demand harvesting = direct response. Google = Demand harvesting.

But things are changing, slowly, in Google land, and the signs are everywhere. Spotted at today’s Giant’s ballgame, which I attended (good lord, how do you blow a six run lead, for goodness sakes):

Goog At Ballpark

Yes, that is Google, purchasing a sponsorship in the name of one of its applications, Google Maps, at the ballpark, on the strip of LEDs that festoon the upper decks.

You might call it a non-cpc banner display ad in the middle of the web site that is AT&T Park.

From a very early post, back when I used to write like Ars, or TC, or Om, or all those wonderful folks who now work with us at FM:

I’ve come to the conclusion that Google can no longer afford to avoid consumer marketing. In order for these services to really scale, to get to where they need to go, Google will have to start promoting them. It’s unavoidable – even if you do have the best product in the world, you need to tell people about it before they get locked into other options – Yahoo, for example, promotes Travel, Photo, and other services it owns. That’s what marketing is, after all. Sure, you probably don’t need to market Google search, nor do you need to market in traditional ways. But you sure do need to promote Picasa if you want it to be anything more than a footnote in its space.

What do you all make of Google’s push into more traditional marketing? You sure as hell can’t measure the relevance and ROI of a campaign like a billboard at a ballpark!



It's Really. Freakin. Hot.

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Local Global Warming
I dunno if you believe in global warming. But it’s MAY 15TH fergoodness sakes. Look at the outside temp indicator on my car. Which is parked IN THE SHADE.



Can Yahoo Get the Search Monkey Off Its Back?

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Monkey(image)

Yahoo’s Search Monkey is released today. Not a moment too soon. My one word summary of what Yahoo needs to do to win: Open. Nothing new there, this is the rallying cry of Yahoo’s senior leaders. But perhaps I should add another word: Open faster.

Today Search Monkey, where developers can take Yahoo results and rejigger ‘em, opens to the world. It’s a good idea. But it’s not enough.

I think Yahoo should be far more radical. Yahoo should let folks play behind the curtain. It’s one thing to give folks a feed of results and let them mash it up. It’s quite a different thing to let folks play with the machinery that produces the results.

No. Way. In. Hell….will Google ever let you do that.

Which is why Yahoo should.

Yep, Yahoo should open the entire works to the world. Let anyone tune the way results are proffered. Now that’s open.

Boing Boing, Google, China, Art, Commerce

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BBtv has a thought-provoking piece on some guerilla art with regard to Google and its China policy. I’ve written extensively on the background (for more, here). if you want to get to the good stuff quickly (I understand folks are busy,) the piece is long-ish, head to 4.45 min or so.

Discussion can be found here.