The big web sites are making a big mistake in not responding to Katrina the way they did to the Tsunami relief effort. Google is sitting on its thumbs rationalizing why they can't put up a Hurricane Katrina donation link. Amazon was doing the same, until some bloggers pushed them along.
Hopefully Google will get on board. If they don't it'll be a huge mistake. In the meantime, make a donation of your own to the American Red Cross or another deserving charity.
Update: Google finally put up a donation link - it goes to Amazon's Red Cross page. I imagine the Google people were wringing their hands over not fire-hosing a given charity. But three days to figure this out... At least they are on board, even if belatedly.
I don't think so. I have several web sites with AdSense on them. This morning, one of them has an very high percentage of clicks on it for today:
So what's the incentive to report this to Google? For me, I suppose it's simply the right thing to do. I'd like to say: "I think there's click fraud happening here." However, I can't find any place on the AdSense publisher UI that says how to report it.
So I guess I can send the info to the "contact us" email. But if Google were serious about preventing click fraud in AdSense, I'd think they'd add an incentive and an obvious way for publishers to flag it.
Is blog spam any different than email spam? As a phenomenon it's basically the same. Maybe not as intense, since spam email is 80+% of email volume while blog spam has yet to reach 50%. Any channel that can be corrupted will be corrupted. And then the corruption is beaten back and it's impact is minimized.
So Doc Searls' post on blog spam is fine and good. We do need to fight it. But it all feels like a repeat of the email spam problem, or the junk mail problem or the phone solicitation problem.
If anything, the impact of email spam was easily 100 times more harmful than blog spam because email is 10 times more important to productivity and is used by probably 100 times more people than blogs. Yet we muddled through, didn't we? So I'm not that worried about blog spam in the end.
Online marketing goes in cycles. Any given technique "works" - ie. reaches people and generates interest - for a short period of time - perhaps under 2 years. I.e. banner ads, email, newsletters, text ads, blog marketing, podcasts, tagging, etc. etc. They all open with a bang and go out with a whimper. Marketers jump in, and the return on the medium regresses. Spammers jump in and increase the noise for every medium. Technologists then fight the spammers.
The effectiveness of any marketing technique rarely lasts more than 30 months. And then people go back to what worked four or five years ago... direct mail, sending executives FedEX boxes, etc...
The inherent value of the blog medium will survive while the marketing corruption cycle spins around it.
... linking to a gapingvoid.com pearl. Here's a great post by Hugh talking about the overlords of mass production in the commodity world.
And as an antidote for all that commodification they've been doing during the week, during the weekends they're going to want the exact opposite, and they're willing to pay for it.
So they'll spend their money on "non-commodity", in other words, "Bespoke".
Then he segues into meaning of life stuff at the end, which I love...
If you're a programmer, you probably own many O'Reilly books. I just bought a few, and one of them is called Perl Best Practices. Very handy. Another great one is Advanced Perl Programming. Great stuff.
There's a page in the back of Perl Best Practices that says: "Access the digital edition FREE for 45 days." And there's a "coupon code" that you are supposed to type in. I went to www.oreilly.com/go/safarienabled and looked for where I'm supposed to type my code. It's not there. Then I registered as a user. Then I got some email to confirm my account, then I search for my book. Couldn't find it - not by title, not by ISBN, nada. I retry the original safarienabled page, and now, since I'm logged in, is the coupon code form entry. So I type in the code. I do not read the "If you are already a user, DO NOT type in your code, instead click here" until it's too late.
But it doesn't matter anyway, since at the end of it all I eventually get this notice in email:
Thank you for redeeming your book coupon with Safari Books Online. Since you have redeemed a coupon for a title that is not yet in Safari, we will notify you when becomes available in our service.
Please note that you will have free access to this title online for 45 days. This period commences only when has been added to My Bookshelf. During the interim period, you can login to Safari and browse thousands of IT titles.
Now that's annoying. You can put out a paperback book, but you can't get the online version up by the time a reader has it in their hands! Strange... And note the blank spot where the title is supposed to be in the email!
If I ever use Safari again, there's no way I'd PAY to use it...
You may know that one of Google's "Ten things" is You can make money without doing evil.
But did you also know that page has some other pithy phrases like: Great just isn't good enough. At the bottom, that page has a note rationalizing away the good old days:
When we first wrote these "10 things" four years ago, we included the phrase "Google does not do horoscopes, financial advice or chat."
Well now Google does do chat, apparently. Which makes me wonder what old-time Googlers think of Google Talk. Basically it's equivalent to Yahoo's or AOL's IM, and not quite as important as Skype. It's as if Google just decided to get it out there, and maybe make it better as time goes along. It's not even an AJAX app for heaven's sake!
Sort of like Microsoft used to do. But it doesn't seem good enough for Google.
Matt Cutts will be familiar to SES attendees - he is Google's search quality evangelist and has traveled the world disseminating SEO information to hordes of Google dependents.
Now he's got a blog. After about 20 entries, it's better than all the Google corporate blogs combined. Go. Subscribe.
But it misses on a couple of key points:
Don't count on the search engines to confront the problem, though. Sure, they pay lip service to cleaning up click fraud, and issue credits -- not refunds --Google and Yahoo do refund ad spend that is proven fraudulent. And more importantly, they have incentive to fix this problem -- primarily because of potential impact of bad PR and the fact that revenue that they make from click fraud is small compared to their legitimate business. I don't think it's accurate to represent Google's supposed desires as Penenberg does when talking about BlowSearch's anti-fraud experiment that reduced clicks significantly:
You can bet that Google and Overture, the two biggest engines on the block, have little desire to repeat this experiment, especially since paid search brings in billions of dollars in revenue for both companies.As I've tried to point out before, the part of the content networks which are most vulnerable to click fraud are a small part of the Google's overall revenue. Perhaps under $120M a year. If that network were subject to 33% fraud, they'd be giving up $40M in revenue, and that revenue is maybe 35% profit. I believe Google would worry more about the fraud than the $15M in profit they would be making in the worst case.
One thing I do agree on: Google and Yahoo could open the kimono and help solve these debates. You'd think they'd want to do that before there are a stack of lawsuits and legal reasons that they won't. Either that or some university researcher needs to do some interesting research to provide credible numbers on how prevalent click fraud really is.
Paul Graham posts a long, controlled rant about the open source model that claims:
It's good stuff. I love lines like the following:
So the average quality of writing online isn't what the print media are competing against. They're competing against the best writing online. And, like Microsoft, they're losing.
Of course Graham is an idealistic startup-guy / academic geek who still programs in Lisp, and the big company he thinks is doing things right is of course, Google. Everyone loves a winner, don't they?
Battelle gets on the horn with unnamed Google spokespeople who are whispering that Yahoo's PR claim of 19.2 Billion pages indexed is questionable.
Ironically, Google is the most secretive and manipulative company around when it comes to numbers. As a Battelle commenter points out, Google has constantly manipulated numbers about it's index, the number of servers it has, etc.
The whole secrecy game is tiresome. Here's the tortuous negotiation Battelle goes through just to report on the matter:
First of all, I agreed to review some of the Google information on background, agreeing not to disclose it save with permission. (I agreed to this only if I could tell you all that I did in fact agree to it).
The quote, which I can only attribute at this point to a "Google spokesperson," is as follows: "Our scientists are not seeing the increase claimed in the Yahoo! index. The data we have doesn't support the 19.2 (billion page) claim and we're confused by that."
Oh! the secrecy and double-agent intrigue just to talk to an unnamed rep who is "confused" by Yahoo's claim. Google has the press eating out of their hands, but you wonder if Google's moral compass has gone missing.
You also wonder who's running their PR? I mean this whisper campaign is only playing into Yahoo's desire for attention...
Jeremy Zawodny gets solicited by a spam email from someone who wants his web traffic:
Hi , I want to buy your traffic. Please get back to me ASAP.
This kind of scares me. Is the online traffic manipulation business so good these days that everyone and their brother can make money doing it? I think this is a sign of a bubble.
These guys RULE! Great in-depth coverage of the Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference in San Jose. You get more detail reading these blog entries than you would if you spent all day at the conference. Only downside is you can't shmooze if you don't go...
If you are knowledgeable about Google, you get a lot of questions about how it works. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to say: "Here, read this, and you'll have all you need to get started."
Dave Taylor's Growing Your Business with Google is just the book to have lying around if you work with people who need to get up to speed on Google and the internet marketing world. It covers how Google works - including search results, AdWords and AdSense, and is easy to read since the book has a lot of side bars and tips that can be quickly scanned.
So, hand out a few copies of this book, and you'll save yourself a lot of time.
Q: Do you ever worry about someone attempting to target you for click fraud?
A: Not at all. Google has the issue totally under control. Besides, the advertisers correct click fraud by lowering the price of each click by what they think the cost of fraud is. ...
People who bring up this issue--like the press--don't understand that Google Adword buyers are very, very smart and take into account a certain level of fraud ...
There is an acceptable fraud level in any economic system...
Even though an AdSense publisher who basically benefits from any click fraud that happens isn't really the right person to ask, I think his points are partially good:
His statement that AdWords advertisers are very smart about all of this is not that accurate. It's been estimated that under 30% of AdWords advertisers use any conversion tracking. So while there may be a small number of AdWords buyers who are very smart and have enough data to know how to adjust for click fraud, the vast majority are in the dark about it.
PS. Read the whole interview. It includes gems like this:
If I were trying to beat Google I would do three things: 1. disclose the % of the split, 2. give a floor CPM, and 3. direct sell CPM based advertising on top websites.
MAYBE, just maybe, the firefox guys would make Google fix their AdSense html so it actually validated! Wouldn't that be nice of them?
AdSense on blogs is not that important to Google from a revenue perspective. And Yahoo launching a competitor won't really affect them revenue-wise either.
In many articles reporting on Yahoo's YPN launch, you read that Google will no longer have a monopoly in AdSense. You then read how AdSense is 49% of Google's revenue. Uh-oh. Right?
This analysis is very superficial. AdSense has two components:
It's very likely that over 85% of AdSense revenue comes from negotiated contracts for search results and contextual ads with large publishers like AOL and the New York Times. So if Google made around $500M in AdSense revenue last quarter, at least $430M comes from big publishers. Profit-wise, this revenue is not nearly as profitable as the stuff coming from Google's own network of sites.
Small publishers are just not that important from a financial perspective. Therefore, YPN isn't really a major threat on the revenue front.
This Wired article on "Identity" systems that promise new ways to store and share your profile information on the internet, has quotes from some of the famous Web2.0 types, like Doc Searls:
The customer wants to be able to say to the whole marketplace, 'I'm in Denver; I want a four-wheel-drive; I'll buy my own gas; I'll decline the (insurance); I want it on these days; and I'm willing to pay such-and-such,
I don't think there's any proof at all of that desire! If anything, there's a lot of proof that people don't want that. Programmers and techies, however, think it sounds great.
I doubt that consumers want that level of integration or "ease-of-use" with their identity. They are scared of that idea, and for good reasons - both "security" and pragmatism - what if you do want the rental insurance when you are in Europe? That whole attitude is a very "programmer-centric" way to think, I.e. "wouldn't it be great if all of your "semantic" info was carried around in a key fob, and transfered via XML as you went up to the rental car desk?"
The real world consumer answers: "Huh? No way!" to that every time.
Overall, I think this Identity 2.0 thing is missing the WIIFM. Because I don't think it's good enough to tell consumers that they don't have to re-type their data again.
Another great case study from marketing sherpa. The key take-away from this study of CyberTrader's approach to buying PPC ads is: No pain, no gain. Don't buy AdWords or Yahoo SMS ads unless you have done a lot of homework.
What they found:
- Dayparting and week-parting tests didn't make a bit of difference.
- Tweaking copy in search ads really does pay off: a slogan test winner resulted in 15% more conversions.
- If you rely on the search engine to choose which terms get displayed more, they'll invariably pick the term that gets the highest clicks ... not the highest ROI. So you have to manage this yourself.