free html hit counter September 2010 | Page 2 of 2 | John Battelle's Search Blog

Bing Targets Firefox, Chrome Users For IE Upgrade – But Not Safari

By - September 03, 2010

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Back in the day, it was news when Google used its massive home page distribution to push its new Chrome browser.

Google putting ads on its home page?! A big deal, even if they were for Google’s own products. It spoke to an ongoing creep inside the company of leveraging its position in search to help it win in other markets, and to some, it felt like a violation of Google’s own principles in the process.

Well, it’d not be fair for me to at least point out that Microsoft is now doing the same thing, using its 11 or so points of share on Bing to push IE 8, its upgraded web browser (see upper right corner)

It’s also notable that as far as I can tell, Microsoft is only showing the promotion to users of Firefox and Chrome. I can’t see the ad on Safari, my native browser, so if a colleague (thanks GB) hadn’t pointed it out, I would have missed it entirely. Wonder why Microsoft is sparing the Safari crowd?

Indications of an Apple/Microsoft detente? The plot thickens…

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It's All The Web

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Fred points out apps and services that are “Mobile First Web Second.” I don’t like the distinction. To me, it’s all the web. It’s this kind of thinking that leads to Wired’s ill-considered proclamation that “the Web is dead.” (I debate that in the second half of this thread here).

What, after all, is the web, really? To me, it’s a set of standards that allow for interconnection, sharing of experience and data, navigation between experiences, and a level playing field for anyone to create value. If we continue to see mobile as “different” from the web, we may lose the magic the web has evoked – the free and open platform which has allowed thousands of startups to bloom, many of which have changed the world, and, I hope, will continue to do so.

For more on this, read the Economist piece: A virtual counter-revolution. (Image at left is from that piece).

That Was Fast: TellApart Implements A Searchblog Suggestion

By - September 02, 2010

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Earlier this week I mused out loud about retargeting, suggesting that perhaps it’s time for marketers to not just chase folks around the web in hopes they might irritate us into submission, but rather offer us the chance to politely say “Not right now, thanks.”

One of Searchblog’s readers turned out to be Josh McFarland, CEO of remarketing startup TellApart. He marshalled his team and within 24 hours had a working prototype integrated into his service. Here’s how it works, in his words:

Hi John –

As promised, here’s our v1.0 of the functionality you described. If a user mouses over the [X], it will highlight in red:

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Clicking on that [X] will disable remarketed ads from that advertiser, reloading the ad with a message that further allows the consumer to opt-out of TellApart targeting altogether (industry best-practice functionality):


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This is now live for all TellApart Diapers.com ads, with the exception of 10% of the users which we use as a control baseline (to measure effects on CTR, conversion rates, etc.)


I applaude McFarland’s ability to quickly iterate and act on what he judges to be good input.

And he acknowledges, this is just version 1.0 of the functionality, executed within 24 hours of my original post. McFarland says he plans to add a lot more features. I think that’s needed, for both marketers as well as consumers – conversation is not just yes/no or off/on, and McFarland gets that.

From a follow up email exchange:

Here’s what we’re working on next, and we’re right in line with your thoughts:


1) Option of pausing the ad for the remainder of the time we predicted the user to be in-market for that retailer — instead of a straight, permanent opt-out.

We named our display ads application “Transactional Retargeting” in a nod to the fact that someone is in market for an item (our clients currently are pure-play e-tailers) for a limited window (5-12 days depending on the retailer’s avg consideration cycle), and most people leave a site without buying and never return during that window. Our job is to present those otherwise lost users with compelling ads (and sometimes offers) to get them to click back and transact… Transactional Retargeting drives higher conversion rates and incremental sales. This also means we only show users ads during those same 5-12 days. This modified “pause” functionality will allow users to stop ads for now but gives the merchant the ability to reconnect in the future.


2) Allowing more feedback as to why the user didn’t like the ad (a la Facebook)

3) A link to a much more informative page (about remarketing, TellApart, etc.) – which we are designing now.

One thing we have to balance, however, is the need to have the consumer rapidly choose one of three paths with the display ad: click through, ignore, or decline. Whereas other providers get paid for building overly complex ad widgets (with tabs, text content, tiny scrollbars, even purchase completion within ad), our goal is to definitively drive the user back to the retailer’s full site where they can re-engage with and complete their purchase.


Our business model couldn’t be simpler: we get paid a percentage of revenue for sales that result from a click through on a TellApart ad. That is the only way we make money. No sham view throughs or cost-per-ad-engagement; we drive clicks that convert. As ex-Googlers, it’s our DNA to start with a very hardcore DR approach, because when we can prove our system works under even the most brutal scrutiny (e-retailers managing ROI down to the penny), it will work for everyone (audience buying, brand campaigns, seasonal promotions, etc.)

Impressive. Expect more from TellApart soon, follow the company’s moves here.

Google and AOL Renew Pact

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One of the best cards in AOL’s difficult hand has been its search deal with Google, which was up for renewal this year. This morning the two companies announced (ahead of a December deadline) that they were staying together, though I can only imagine the folks at Bing didn’t make it easy. At the moment, only three parties know what Google paid – Google, AOL, and Microsoft, which knows at least what Google must have topped to win the deal.

Here’s the official release. Financial details are not disclosed, yet, but more will probably be available in future SEC filings.

Ping: "Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes" Except…

By - September 01, 2010

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…as far as I can tell, they in fact don’t ever meet. You can’t leverage your networks on Facebook and Twitter in Ping. It’s another closed Apple system, another Apple universe in a gilded gift box.

It’s not that Apple hates the web, it’s just that Apple is better than the web. Apple doesn’t need it. It seems Apple has it all figured out.

I am sure Ping will get traction because it’ll be fun, and if it truly helps folks discover more music, so much the better for all (especially iTunes sales). But I’ve a sneaking suspicion that Ping will soon be about more than discovering music – it will also be about discovering Apps and other media like movies and TV. And while paid media is a sanitized and bounded universe, it’s my fervent hope that Apps, over time, will not be – that they will be far more promiscuous. Breathless predictions aside, I simply can’t imagine you will want your Apps to be recommended to you only by your Ping “friends.” Likewise, when you find something cool, you’ll want to share it on Twitter, and post it to Facebook (and maybe even other places too, places that are outside AppleLand.)

You’ve invested in your Facebook and Twitter relationships, why can’t you use those to find and share good stuff inside AppleLand?

I hope Apple agrees, and will open Ping to the rest of the world. But I’m not going to predict it. I can predict this: If Apple doesn’t open it up, Ping will never crack more than 10% of social networking share. But my, will that share be profitable! And for Apple, that’s certainly seems to be enough.

UPDATE: Peter in the comments notes that Ping does have a “very limited” Facebook Connect integration. So good on them, but if it’s just to find friends to feed your Ping network, I’ll stand by my comments above.