Happy Canada & U.S. Independence Day to our Friends and Clients both North and South of the border.

In order to best serve our current and future clients StepForth will remain open through the two statutory holidays next week.

On Canada Day (Tuesday, July 1st), our office will be open during regular business hours, 9:00-5:00 PST with a limited staff, and being the Canadians that we are, since we do not celebrate Independence Day up here, we will operate during normal business hours, with our regular staff complement for the Fourth of July.

We wish everyone a fun and safe time with their celebrations and respective days off.

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Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Google up in US Search Share

The latest numbers are in, and Google continues to dominate search – we already knew that, but by how much?

The latest figures from HitWise released this morning show Google up a little over 3% compared to May of 2007. Google was accountable for approximately 68.29% of searches performed in the US in May of 2008. Yahoo and MSN fell to 19.95% and 5.89% respectively.

Yahoo’s figures for May 2008 are down marginally by about 1% and MSN down nearly 2% compared to the same period a year ago. HitWise figures are based on a sampling of 10 million U.S. Internet Users.

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Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Windows Vista Lives

Very recently my old laptop started giving me a world of problems ranging from minor software to rather serious hardware issues. For a three year old laptop it just didn’t make sense to fix it, so I decided to take the leap and buy a replacement.

I originally had hoped on finding something with Windows XP, and the only new machine I could find with XP was through Dell – my now dead laptop was a Dell, so I decided to pass and jumped over to a Toshiba running Vista.

Surprisingly thus far I like Vista, and it has only given me a few correctable & minor inconveniences. Of course, only after purchasing the new machine did I read that Microsoft has again opened the doors to selling Windows XP, and it will be made available on “Ultra Low Cost” Notebooks and PC’s. Read more…

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Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Yahoo and Walmart Strike a Deal

Yahoo signed a multi-year deal with Walmart to start displaying advertising on its company website a press release stated Wednesday. The deal will enable Walmart.com to utilize Yahoo’s ad platform for presenting new offers to their customers.

“This announcement builds on our strategy to be the partner of choice for leading brands looking to engage more customers with compelling offers online,” said Todd Teresi, senior vice president of the Yahoo! Publisher Network. “By combining Walmart.com’s leading position as a multi-channel retailer with our industry-leading display advertising sales and ad management technology and sales force, we will be able to provide advertisers with the easiest, most effective way to deliver targeted, relevant marketing messages to Walmart.com shoppers.”

Marketers are expected to be able to start taking advantage of this partnership sometime near the end of this month.

As Google Earth advances, they have offered 3D views of several major cities and attractions world wide, but with the help of Disney providing intricate models, a 3D walk through has been created providing users with incredible detail in their virtual visit.

Information is made available on all of the parks 1500 attractions and contains videos and photos as well as booking details. Restaurant menus are also available for the many dining establishments at the theme park.

While currently the virtual tour only includes the outside of the parks buildings, a future update will allow visitors to see the inside of hotel rooms and enter the various attractions.

If you are interested in taking a break and viewing the 3D tour, ensure you have the latest version of Google earth and the “3D Buildings” layer is enabled, and perform a search for “Disney World”. Clicking on any one of the colored Mickey Mouse logos, will get you started.

A case was brought to French court surrounding the use of certain keywords through the use of Google AdWords.

Google AdWords offers advertisers a keyword tool which will often suggest variations of certain keywords to be added to a given campaign. Fashion retailer, Louis Vuitton is unhappy as AdWords has been noted to suggest terms such as “Louis Vuitton fakes” and “Louis Vuitton replicas”.

Because Google is essentially selling the advertising rights to these trademarks, Louis Vuitton alleges a trademark violation, and took the search giant to court – and won! Naturally Google has appealed and the case will now go to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

For a few years now Google has offered their AdWords advertisers an alternative to the online interface with AdWords Editor, a downloadable program offering additional functionality to make managing your campaigns just a little bit easier. Today at SMX Advanced, Kevin Johnson, Microsoft’s Platform & Services Division President, announced the launch of a similar such product for Microsoft adCenter, in Beta of course.

Microsoft’s vision is a fully functional desktop client version for adCenter, rather than just an editor. This means that tools such as those used for keyword research will be integrated into the software, a feature lacking by Google AdWords Editor.

This product launch will likely make many advertisers happy assuming it all goes smoothly. Our experience with adCenter is that of awkwardness as their interface is far from user friendly, taking several steps to complete a task done with only a single click over at Google.

Unlike many other beta launches that are accessible to only a select few deep pocket advertisers, adCenter Desktop beta is available to anyone with an account in good standing. If you meet the adCenter terms and conditions, you are eligible to apply. If interested in giving the beta a try, fill in their application form to be considered.

Google, Yahoo, and others are already there, and now Microsoft has decided to follow the leader with the launch of Mobile Display Ads.

On Tuesday Microsoft Announced it had opened the doors for advertisers to display banner ads directly to Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail mobile users.

Microsoft also rolled out its beta for keyword based advertising using Live Search Mobile, to be expanded in the second half of 2008. A select group of “invited advertisers can create keyword campaigns through Microsoft adCenter that target customers on the go. This will be the first time that Microsoft has enabled advertisers to monetize its popular mobile search service.”

Mobile advertising and search is still in its very early stages and, in keeping with tradition, Microsoft has followed behind Google and Yahoo. If they ever hope to boost their market share and better compete with the two leaders, Microsoft should really try launching initiatives like this first rather then constantly playing catch-up.

The service is currently available to advertisers in France, Spain, the UK, and the US. As keeping with the trend of new web developments, Canada is still left out in the cold.

Avid users of Google Earth will now find a new layer added to the unique mapping system. Google News has recently been incorporated allowing users to see regional news related to the specific areas they are viewing.

For some time now the ability to find geo-tagged photos within Google Earth has been available, and it only makes sense that geographic news stories would also be made integrated into the service.

If you are interested in activating the Google News layer “navigate to the “Layers” menu on the left-hand side of Google Earth. Expanding the “Gallery” node in the layers tree will expose the “Google News” layer. Check the box next to the Google News layer and start zooming into the places on the globe in which you’re interested. Each story is represented by a Google News icon on the globe. Clicking on the news icon opens up the news story’s snippet, along with links to learn more about the event.”

The launch of the new feature was announced Tuesday morning by Project Manager Brandon Badger on Google’s Lat Long Blog.

Microsoft offered a sneak peak back in February, and as of Tuesday the public beta of WorldWide Telescope has been made available, according to a Press Release issued by Microsoft.

The online virtual telescope has been created in response to Google’s launch of Google Sky a few years ago, and takes things to the next level with a huge database of high resolution images from various stars, galaxies, and other non-earthly entities. Ray Gould spoke about WorldWide Telescope back in February and noted that some of “the best images from the worlds greatest telescopes from earth and in space are woven them seamlessly to produce a holistic view of the Universe.”

“The WorldWide Telescope is a powerful tool for science and education that makes it possible for everyone to explore the universe,” said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. “By combining terabytes of incredible imagery and data with easy-to-use software for viewing and moving through all that information, the WorldWide Telescope opens the door to new ways to see and experience the wonders of space. Our hope is that it will inspire young people to explore astronomy and science, and help researchers in their quest to better understand the universe.”

WorldWide Telescope, Much like Google’s Earth & Sky products, is offered free and is currently available for download. While the user interface is quite different, the overall experience is very similar. WorldWide Telescope has a more modern and sleek interface than Google Sky, but in the end both have about the same to offer.

I prefer the Microsoft interface with easy graphic thumbnails to take you directly to the celestial body. Personally I find that this new beta release offers a higher level visual experience, which is why I would likely turn to it in the future.

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