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Thursday, November 30th, 2006

No More Answers

After 4 years of Q and A Google Answers is being retired and as of late this week they will no longer be accepting new questions.

Google Answers was first introduced back in 2002 by a small 4 person team based on a rough idea by Larry Page. Within 4 months of inception the product was launched in beta and answered some of the most important questions of all time such as why there is no channel 1 and how flies can survive in the microwave .

While new questions will no longer be accepted after this week, Google Answers will continue to accept answers to existing questions until the end of the year. The Questions and Answers will also remain online for the foreseeable future.

Google Answers is a paid service to help searchers find answers to questions. While Google and the other search engines can provide information on just about anything, even for experienced users it can sometimes be difficult to find just the right piece of information. Google Answers allows you to post a question, and for a fee, have an expert researcher provide you with just the right answer.

This was Google's holiday logo in 1999
In a bid that is sure to raise the interests of many e-tailers, Google has announced that it will be providing free merchant services for the holiday season. Say what?! Yes, FREE.

For those of you who are not familiar with transacting online suffice it to say that this promotion could save participating e-tailers hundreds if not thousands of dollars this holiday season. Read more…

It is widely known that the Indian economy is booming and as a testament to this fact a new search engine providing entirely Indian based content has recently launched: Guruji.com .

The design of Guruji is very nostalgic of Google’s early days; clean, simple, no advertising, and quite attractive. Created to capitalize on the growing need for local search, this 30 million page index is bound to grow considerably over the next year. Currently in English, Guruji will offer search in the following languages within the next 6 months: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bengali.

If you are interested in getting some exposure in Guruji then your site had better have some Indian content. From my own tests I have to say that their filter to ensure Indian-only content is quite good.

Welcome the new Microsoft… the media mogul and software giant

Google has proven it works, so guess what? Microsoft is now jumping on board and I expect they will be astounded by their positive reception because this is a great addition of quality advertising territory. Microsoft has launched a powerful advertising solution called Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions that will allow advertisers to get exposure across the following brands:

  • MSN
    Engage up to 380 million users with your advertisement on this popular portal.
  • XBOX
    Advertise directly to the gamers while they surf their XBOX Live sites.
  • Windows Live
    This new brand will gain a significant following over the next few years and as Microsoft puts it this “is a highly desireable audience” packed full of confident online consumers.
  • Microsoft Office Online
    Microsoft is targeting enterprise advertisers for this site that is designed as a technical extension of the popular Office suite of applications.
  • Windows Mobile
    Send text ads or interactive images direct to handhelds through this portal for mobile users.
  • Microsoft TV
    Here is an opportunity for exposure across Microsoft’s new age IPTV system that will provide broadcast-quality video and television to users.

So what does this all mean? Microsoft has finally clued in to the online advertising revolution and opened the doors to becoming much more than a software manufacturer. Now you can advertise across Microsoft’s considerable network in areas that you never could before.

Hmm, I wonder if they will start to buy up newspapers soon? :-)

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Friday, September 1st, 2006

Adwords API Will Now Cost Money

Google has announced that it will be charging a pay per usage fee of $0.25 per thousand queries of its Adwords API.

To those business owners that didn’t have a clue what I just said here is the scoop. First of all, this really does not ‘directly’ have anything to do with you, but it may affect you indirectly. You see Google’s Adwords API allows advertising agencies with inhouse PPC management software to directly interface with Google’s Adwords system to conduct searches so that they can keep up to date on the status of their client’s campaigns. Up untill October 1st, 2006 it was completely free to use this interface but that has now changed since Google is now charging $0.25 per thousand uses. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but for agencies that have hundreds of clients this will add up to a great deal of money over time. And as we all know, the more money it costs a vendor, the more it will ultimately cost you, the consumer.

In short, I expect that ad agencies who specialize in Adwords promotions will be passing on some significant new costs to their clientele. Fortunately, StepForth is not in the position to be disturbed by this shakeup because we do not use such software. As a result, our clients will not experience any negative effects in their StepForth-managed ppc campaigns.

If you would like more information here is Google’s ratesheet.

As it turns out, the revolution will be televised, or sort of televised anyway. Actually, it starts as a commercial.

Google introduced a new age of advertising earlier this week by announcing plans to distribute video commercials on websites in its pay per click AdWords network. The move opens the once exclusive marketing channel of televised ads to a far wider array of small and medium businesses. Read more…

Two emerging initiatives aim to create and present certification designations for search engine optimization specialists. Oddly enough, both are from Southern Ontario, Canada both are being initiated by long term players in the online marketing world, and neither has sanction from any official bodies, other than their own boards of directors.

If the situation sounds confusing and ad-hoc, that’s because it is. There is no official governing board for search engine optimization practitioners. In other words, SEO is not a profession by any extent of the word. It is a practice. There is no regulation, other than the vocal self-policing that happens within the industry and no bureau of complaints and compliance, other than the search engines themselves. Read more…

Attending a Search Engine Strategies Conference has been likened to having an encyclopedia downloaded into your mind in two or three intense days of concentrated information sessions. For long term SEOs and SEMs, a SES conference is a chance to catch up with colleagues and exchange gossip, information and collegiate humour.

Traveling across the continent to get to the conference can be tiring. My parents live in Toronto so I am fortunate enough to have a place to stay complete with home cooked meals and the security of sleeping in a familiar bed. Given the tenor of the conference and the exhaustion of jet-lag, staying at my parents’ place is more than helpful. Read more…

Yahoo is testing a new paid-ad placement and revenue model in Scandinavia that appears similar to the algorithm Google uses to determine the placement of paid advertising.

Basing its rankings on a combination of cost-per-click and the number of times search users click specific paid ads, Yahoo’s new ad placement system is expected to be rolled out in the UK in July.

While there is no official word on when the new system will be introduced in North America or other parts of the world, an announcement about Yahoo’s intentions is expected in the coming weeks with speculation on a global rollout in late 2006 or early 2007.

Codenamed, Project Panama, the switch is expected to bring a higher volume of click-throughs than the current system that determines ad placement based on the highest keyword bidder.

According to a story in Forbes Magazine, Yahoo has already notified a number of high volume search buyers of the upcoming changes.

When the management team at Google decided to take the company public in August 2004, they made the decision with the knowledge that being a publicly traded company would force them to open their doors to public scrutiny. Before their IPO, 18-months ago, Google was, for all intents and purposes, a shuttered shop from which light rarely leaked.

Now that Google stock circulates on the open market, US law requires them to file an annual report (Form 10-K) and quarterly reports (Form 10-Q) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These reports are made available to the public by the SEC and can also be found in Google’s Investor Relations Center. As a result of these reports, Google is no longer able to hold a wealth of information about it or its business as secrets. Read more…

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