Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Interactive Advertising Bureau Looks for New CEO

For all the likely eligibles out there :

Greg Stuart will give up the CEO’s post at the Interactive Advertising Bureau at the end of this year, kicking off a search for a successor.

The IAB said Mr. Stuart was looking to pursue “new opportunities.” Recruitment specialist Spencer Stuart is heading the search.

Mr. Stuart most recently co-authored with market researcher Rex Briggs an advertising book called “What Sticks.” He joined the New York-based organization in 2001.

The IAB is the leading lobby for interactive marketing agencies and firms. It also produces guidelines and research, including a recent estimate predicting a 16 percent jump in interactive advertising this year to $16 billion.

Beware of the SEO Company : Traffic Power

Here is an excerpt from the Matt Cutts Blog :

Note: Remember my disclaimer that this is my personal site and that the views expressed here are not those of my employer? For this post, I am speaking in my official capacity as head of the webspam group at Google, and I’ve had this post reviewed by Google’s lawyers.

Usually, Google doesn’t confirm or deny whether a company has been removed from our index. I started that precedent several years ago when a reporter asked whether a particular company was banned from Google for spamming, and I declined to confirm a spam penalty. That precedent has worked well at times in the past, but lately I’ve found that it can assist webmasters to give
concrete examples of violations of our quality guidelines.

This site is also useful because it allows me to give webmasters and site owners more information. For example, it lets me remind site owners of our
search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines, which states that “you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire.” That means that if an SEO were to build doorway pages directly on your own domain, your site could be removed from Google as a result. For that reason, it’s important to do your research and to understand what actions an SEO company will be performing for you.

I was recently reading about a lawsuit involving Traffic Power, an SEO company. If you’d like some background, the Wall Street Journal wrote
an article about Traffic Power a few months ago. You can also read more from the Better Business Bureau, which has received over 100 complaints about Traffic Power in the last 36 months.

According to
this post, Traffic Power is suing someone and asserting among other things
“The false and defamatory information includes but is not limited to the following:
a. Claims that the search engine giant Google has banned and is banning from its search engine listings websites of clients because of the search engine optimization strategies used by Plaintiff.
b. Claims that clients of run the risk of being banned from Google search engine listings if they use services;”

I’d like to address those two points. I can confirm that Google has removed and domains promoted by Traffic Power from our index because of search engine optimization techniques that violated our webmaster guidelines at If you are a client or former client of Traffic Power and your site is not in Google, please see my previous advice on requesting reinclusion into Google’s index to learn what steps to take if you would like to be reincluded in Google’s index.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Page Rank Calculator

Here is the link to a tool that will help you in calculating your page rank based on the number of inbound and outbound links from a site .

This tool is amongst the best ones i've come across on the net and is fairly accurate in predicting the page rank of sites.

Web Analytics: Increasing Online ROI

Interesting article by Jason Burby posted on Clickz

As Web analytics tools become more advanced and more companies adopt new data sources, it's easy to get buried in the data and lose focus on what really matters. Over the past six to 12 months, I've noticed many companies are spending the majority of their time creating key performance indicator (KPI) reports, leaving no time to analyze the meaning behind the KPIs. Without thorough KPI analysis, you may be moving in the wrong direction without even realizing it.

Think about your organization. How many different reports regarding Web channel performance and related conversions are distributed? Most likely, your answer is either zero or nearly 50 per month. Obviously, zero isn't good; we need some way to evaluate the channel and share it with others in the organization. But an overabundance of reports can lead to confusion throughout the company. Data may come from different sources and lead to disagreeing numbers for the same metrics, which complicates the analytics process further.

Another closely-related issue is the time you're allocating to assemble the reports. In many cases, too much time is given to report creation and not enough to analysis.

If your Web analytics team spends 80 percent of its time putting KPI reports together and 20 percent fielding ad hoc requests from others within the organization (which typically aren't tied to KPIs but are more items of curiosity), look at reallocating their time.

Depending on your team size, try reducing the KPI reporting to less than 20 percent of the time, leaving more time for other items. Allocate 50 percent of the time each month to digging into the specifics of the KPIs that are moving in the wrong direction. Try to learn everything about the behaviors tied to those issues. As you identify the opportunities and improve them, you can focus on the KPIs that might be underperforming. Then you still have 30 percent of your time resources left to train your business users on how to ask the right questions and use the data that's available to address their ad hoc requests.

Don't get so caught up in putting together the same KPI reports each month. Dig into those that are slipping and not performing well to get real value out of your efforts. Making this change will pay off.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Kanoodle's Latest Acquistion

Contextual advertising provider Kanoodle has acquired a domain name registrar, separated its search and content-targeted ad businesses, and will restructure all three units under a parent company called Seevast.Seevast, headed up by Kanoodle's former management team, will oversee three operating units. The company's existing search-targeted sponsored links will remain under the Kanoodle brand. The content-targeted sponsored links will be separated out under a new operating business, Pulse 360.

Newly acquired will continue to operate as an independent business unit, headed by existing CEO Monte Cahn and president Eric Harrington."Kanoodle had been defined in the marketplace as a provider of search-based sponsored links. It was challenging, both internally and externally, to get people to recognize what we had become and where we were going as opposed to where we'd been," SeeVast CEO Lance Podell told ClickZ.

The goal of this shuffling of businesses is to provide focus and better server customers of each business, according to Podell. The company has always used distinct targeting methods and maintained separate marketplaces for search and content pages. By separating the two into their own operating companies, Seevast hopes to improve the quality and streamline the operation of each business."We saw a real opportunity to better server the needs of our advertisers and publishers by spinning out the content business. We feel we're in a better position to enhance services to and for our customers," Podell said. Getting employees to rally around each product and focus on it separately will help both companies continue to innovate, he's business is “domain asset management.” It is one of the 10 largest domain name registrars in the world, handling domain registration, management, appraisal, sales, auctions, and parked domain monetization through its TrafficClub service.

TrafficClub will show Pulse 360 ads on the pages it manages, as well as those from Google and other providers.The operating companies, though independent, will have some overlap of customers. Advertisers often buy both sponsored links across search engines and contextual ads, so they will now deal with both Kanoodle and Pulse 360. They also often buy multiple domain names, so they will also be able to work with Moniker. Site owners can work with Pulse 360 to display ads on their content sites, and with for their domain name services."Where integration makes sense, we'll do it. Where it's not practical, the businesses will operate as separate entities," Podell said.Moniker has more than 1.5 million domain names under management for clients like the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Lionsgate Films, and Yahoo. The Pulse 360 content network includes,,, and more than 100 CBS TV and radio sites.

The acquisition of Moniker could be the first of many moves into other areas of online marketing for Seevast, Podell said. "Seevast gives us the operation infrastructure to go out, over time, and expand the scope of our complementary businesses. You can envision a day when we either buy or build additional units," he said.

Targeting and Segmentation in Online Media Buying

Here's an interesting article by Tessa Wegert discussing targeting strategies while buying media online .

Most people in this business would agree technologies like behavioral targeting and contextual advertising have revolutionized online marketing. Looking back, I can hardly believe we got anywhere targeting based on site-provided audience profiles and content channels alone.
Although such primitive tactics served their purpose at the time, they left buyers and planners with little control over fundamental campaign metrics, such as ROI (
define). No wonder we constantly struggled to consolidate what we promised to clients and what was actually delivered.
As far as we've come, new targeting, segmentation, and ad-serving technologies continue to improve. The companies with the newest offerings don't just utilize the most effective aspects of behavioral and contextual marketing but take targeting even further.
Take a look at
[x+1], which until April of this year was better known as Poindexter Systems. The company observed the shift toward leveraging technology in media planning and buying but felt automated technology was still underutilized.
"Behavioral is one component we need to look at -- that lets you know someone appears to be in-market for a product or service," says Toby Gabriner, CEO of [x+1]. "But you don't know anything further about that individual, like their age, gender, or geography. We do need to look at behavioral and contextual variables. But something like time of day or access speed might be even more predictive to some advertisers."
With this in mind, the company offers two solutions to improve conversion rates, which can be used independently or in tandem: a site optimization product called Site+1 and a media optimization product called Media+1.
The first part of the equation, site optimization, involves using the company's seven-year-old Progressive Optimization Engine to create real-time profiles of anonymous prospects when they arrive at a site. The engine, Gabriner says, uses IP and cookie data to give sites "an amazing view" into their clients and customers and what makes them tick. That view then informs the way sites deliver product messaging and provides the opportunity to cross- and upsell after converting a prospect into a customer. Current users of the technology include AOL, Vonage, and Verizon.
The media portion also utilizes [x+1]'s handy optimization engine. It's used to allow media buyers to only buy impressions that fit the profile of their target audience. [X+1] has agreements with eight ad networks, which essentially allows it to analyze the value of each impression on behalf of a client prior to making the purchase. If the impression isn't a suitable match, the optimization engine keeps looking and the network simply sells the impression to someone else.
Say an [x+1] client's objectives include reaching consumers who are likely to sign up for a trial service and ultimately to convert into subscribers. The advertiser might have a list of 10 different audience segments it wishes to reach, including 24-year-old males with a propensity to spend money online. It relays this information to [x+1]. When an impression is served by one of the ad networks, [x+1] reviews it in real time and analyzes the profile of the consumer who could receive it. If the impression is set to appear on a site targeting women, [x+1] will reject it. If it's going to a sports site with a high concentration of the advertiser's target audience, the impression is served.
The advertiser is informed which network ran its ad, but not the site on which it appeared. Pricing, Gabriner says, is flexible. It can be performance-based, be a CPM (
define) model, or represent a percentage of the overall media spend.
"Not only can we identify and target high value prospects, but we allow marketers to only buy the impressions that they want," says Gabriner. Users of its media solution include online dating site
Although it may be complex, [x+1]'s technology should feel pretty intuitive to most buyers and planners. The concept of increasing the variables by which an advertiser can identify and analyze consumers is a no-brainer... that takes some real brains to execute.
If you've experienced the effectiveness of behavioral and contextual marketing firsthand, you know there's one real drawback: setting client expectations for conversions and ROI impossibly high. Well, here's a way to deliver beyond what's expected -- the new-fashioned way.

More of her articles can be accessed at

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Google and My Space do a $ 900 Million Deal

Google has won the opportunity to provide search and serve ads to MySpace in exchange for at least $900 million.

Beating out Yahoo, Google will gain access to the nearly 100 million users of MySpace, providing web search and sponsored search links for the social networking site,
reports CNET (via MarketingVox). News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media said the deal extends over three years and nine months and grants Google exclusive rights to provide search and ads not only to MySpace but also other FIM properties, including videogame and entertainment site IGN, collegiate and pro sports network, movie lovers' site, among others.

Google, which has begun selling graphical ads (with modest results), has also gained right of first refusal to sell remnant banner ads on MySpace,
points out the New York Times, adding that the size of MySpace's inventory will make Google a major player in banner ads, according to analysts.
The deal will begin in the fourth quarter, with Google guaranteeing at least $900 million to FIM over three years, so long as the latter meets traffic and other commitments. The companies also hinted at expanding their cooperation.

"The real potential for a home run is combining Google technology with our demographic information," Peter Chernin, president and COO of News Corp., is quoted as saying. And Google CEO Eric Schmidt is quoted as saying, "It's important to move Google to where users are, and that is where user-generated content is."
The announcement comes as Viacom is considering a bid for social networking site Bebo; Viacom failed to defeat News Corp. in the race for MySpace last year,
writes the Financial Times.

Google and MTV Sign an Online Video Deal supported with Ads

MTV parent Viacom and Google have agreed to offer video clips from popular shows on websites in Google's AdSense online advertising network, reports USA Today. The result will be a first-of-its-kind syndication network of 4-5-minute ad-supported clips of TV shows on the web; but, for now, the deal consists of a test, starting late August, open only to select AdSense publishers. Ad revenue will be shared among MTV, Google and the website publishers.

The deal signals a shift for MTV Networks, which has focused its online video efforts on its own branded broadband sites, such as MTV Overdrive, writes the Financial Times. As part of the deal, MTV Networks will also sell episodes of its programs through Google Video, as it does via AOL and iTunes.
Major broadcasters have been testing online distribution, mostly via iTunes and their own websites. This deal would tap into a vast online advertising network. "We have this large network of advertisers that presumably will grow very quickly," Google CEO Eric Schmidt is quoted by USA Today as saying.

Yahoo Showcases it's New Advertising Platform

"Project Panama," the online advertising platform on which Yahoo has pinned its hopes and which is scheduled for launch in the fourth quarter, was shown to search marketers in San Jose, reports ClickZ, adding that Yahoo also plans to introduce a new ad ranking system by the first quarter of 2007 - possibly by the fourth quarter.

"We'll be introducing graphics and rich media, coupons, and phone calls. This will be very important in new channels such as mobile," Product Marketing VP John Kim is quoted as saying. The new system will also deliver better targeting, according to Kim.

When selecting ad groups, advertisers can determine whether to manage contextual campaigns separately from paid search ads. They can set up A/B testing to determine the best-performing ad, get estimates of how many clicks an ad should receive for a given bid, and receive account alerts (if an advertiser has run out of money, for example).

Google is Challenging the Click Fraud Data

Google accused three auditing firms that sell click-fraud detection services to advertisers of relying on flawed technology, reports the Financial Times. A Google report said its examination had "discovered some basic engineering and accounting issues across the industry" that have led to "dramatic overestimation of click fraud rates by these firms." Those firms' research is used by some advertisers to challenge billings from Google.

Two key findings of the report "explain the fundamental flaw we have seen in all of the reports we examined - fictitious clicks: events which are reported as fraudulent, but are never recorded or charged as ad clicks by Google", according to a
post in the AdWords blog.For one, auditing firms counts such fictitious clicks when a surfer browses more deeply into an advertiser's site and then hits the back button, presses the browser reload button when on the landing page or opens a new browser window and causes a reload of the landing page, CNET quotes a Google spokesman as saying.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Email Marketing Strategies for 2006

I found this on Email Labs as well. A good write up on the email marketing strategies to be adopted for 2006.

This time of year, every email expert hauls out the crystal ball and predicts the trends for the next 12 months. That's okay as far as it goes, but we wanted to come up with something more useful for email marketers. So, we reviewed the major email developments of 2005 and came up with 10 email marketing strategies you need to take to rev up your email program in 2006.

  • Get relevant – dive into personalization and segmentation.
    The greatest capability of email marketing technology – segmentation and personalization – is likely the most underutilized by most companies. Making your emails as relevant as possible to each recipient is the most critical "must do" in 2006. Your emails are competing for attention with an increasing number of messages in your subscribers’ inbox. The emails that resonate most, through personalized subject lines, offers, articles, products showcased, and follow-up emails based on recipient activity, will be the clear winners. It is crucial that companies begin this process, even if it is simply personalizing the content of the subject line or sending modified emails to several different segments of your list. Once the process is started, companies can then work toward the promised land of dynamic content and lifecycle-based messaging.

  • Resolve or minimize deliverability and rendering issues.
    Marketers must send pre-campaign test messages to uncover delivery problems before sending the actual message to recipients and monitor results after each message to spot ISP blocking, filtering and blacklisting. They should test their email messages in different email clients (Outlook, Lotus Notes, AOL , and Web clients like Hotmail/MSN , Gmail and Yahoo!) and platforms (PC and Macintosh) and correct problems. Establish authenticity as an email sender by publishing SPF code in their DNS record.

  • Redesign email messages for the inbox and users who view them in the preview pane and block images.
    Marketers must redesign their emails to render properly and be easily read and acted on in a world of preview panes and blocked images. In 2006 Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail will add preview panes to their Web-based clients, adding to the significant usage of preview panes by Outlook and Lotus Notes users. Marketers should redesign email message templates to deliver maximum information in the top 2 to 4 inches and increase their creative use of HTML fonts and colors, while relying less on the use of images that ISPs or recipients' email clients might block.

  • Optimize the beginning of the email relationship.
    Marketers must focus special attention on the beginning of the email relationship, because the most significant decline in email performance comes two months after recipients opt in. Engage new subscribers immediately with an organized program that includes a welcome message sent out upon confirmation, followed by the current newsletter or promotion, and emails offering a set of "best-of" newsletter articles or an email-exclusive offer just for newcomers. Manage subscribers’ expectations from the start by adequately explaining the email program’s value proposition, frequency, type of content and privacy policies.

  • Get on the permission train.
    Marketers must review the permission practices across their Web sites and at all customer-contact points within the company. Convert any opt-out address collection (loading a subscription form with a checked box or sales offers emailed to prospects without permission) to opt-in. While not required by the CAN-SPAM Act,
    permission-based email is becoming the acknowledged best practice in the industry. Companies that send unsolicited email risk damaging their brand and losing customers.

  • Focus on metrics that matter.
    Marketers spend way too much time worrying about process-oriented metrics such as open and click-through rates. Companies need to focus more on the end goals by tracking conversion rates, revenue per email, whether specific desired actions were taken, etc. Newsletter publishers need to drill down and track which type of articles and format style motivate subscribers to click through to read more, and then adjust content and formats accordingly. Use open and click rates as indicators of trends and possible delivery and rendering issues rather than as stand-alone measures of campaign success.

  • Take better care of long-term subscribers.
    EmailLabs estimates that 30% to 50% of a company’s email list may be inactive, meaning that subscribers have not opened or clicked on a link over a reasonable series of messages or time period. Marketers need to wake up these dormant subscribers by trying different subject lines, frequency of mailings and new formats, sending them special offers or best of newsletters, surveying them, and getting them to update their demographic, preference and interest profiles. Marketers also need to analyze these “inactives” to uncover potential trends such as how they opted in (sweepstakes offer, free whitepaper, etc.) and their demographic profiles.

  • Maximize search with email.
    Search is now a dominant means to acquire customers and leads, but companies that don’t integrate their email programs with their search efforts are throwing search-engine-marketing dollars in the trash. Include an email offer as a secondary objective on the landing page. Invite visitors to opt in to a newsletter, download a whitepaper or try a product/service demo if they don't want to buy or take other desired actions. Then, use email to move subscribers along the sales lifecycle.

  • Test, test, test and improve.
    Things move and change quickly in email marketing. What works for a competitor or worked for you six months ago might not work today. Companies need to test variables continuously, including format, design, copy style and calls to action, subject line approach and offers, personalization, content types or product categories and more. Start with simple A/B split tests, and repeat the test at least a few times to verify results.

  • Create an email marketing plan and align resources.
    Do you have an actual email marketing plan with specific goals, success metrics and action steps outlined? Because email marketing is still so new to many organizations, budget and resources for the channel are often not in line with the opportunity and potential ROI. Develop a plan that clearly demonstrates to management the value and ROI of a strategic and well-run email marketing program. Make sure your plan includes enough budget and resources to enable significant improvement in ROI through increased personalization and segmentation, better deliverability, continuous testing, analysis and improvement and use of advanced technology.

Email Marketing

I found some great tips for email marketing initiatives from a company called Email Labs . They are given below:

  • Use your company or brand name in the "from" line, which tells recipients who sent the email.
  • Write a brief (six words or less is ideal) subject line that accurately represents the message’s major content. Longer subject lines are OK, just make sure each word is critical and the most important are in the first 50 characters – those that follow will get cut off in many email clients. Include the email’s title, if it has one (such as a newsletter title). If you can't, then include your company, division or brand name in the "from" line. List it first here.
  • Keep HTML-format messages as simple as possible. The more gizmos you pack into an HTML message -- superfluous images, graphics, sound or video -- the more likely something won't work on your recipients' computers. Store rich-media content on the Web; limit image size and use colors that reflect your logo.
  • In HTML messages, use alt tags and support text around images so that readers whose email clients block images by default will still get the gist of your message. Many email clients will also block alt tags, so good use of text is key.
  • If you offer a text version (read why here), make sure the content includes links to all of your core functions and tasks. Don't force readers to click to the Web version of your newsletter to receive its benefits or manage their subscriptions.
  • Load up on relevant links. If your goal is to funnel readers to your Web site, give them many access points, such as two or three order buttons sprinkled around a promo message instead of just one, or links to related information on your site. You've probably got a wealth of info at your site; make it easy for your readers to find it.
  • Lose the generic action button. Instead of "click here," use descriptive terms such as "Order now!" or "subscribe me!" or "Get white paper here." Be explicit about the actions you want users to take.
  • Test each email message before you send it, in different browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, etc.), email clients (Outlook, Lotus Notes, Gmail, Yahoo!) and platforms (Macintosh and PC). Click each link; watch out for oddities and inconsistencies in the way images load (or don't load) and in text fonts and widths.
  • Adhere to your users' preferences for frequency, format and content. If you keep sending promo offers to people who signed up just for the newsletter, you'll lose them.
  • However, you can promote your other publications in your messages, as long as those promos don't get in the way of the main content. For example, add a brief product offer at the end or side of a newsletter or announcement message, or list headlines from relevant news stories in a promotional-offer message. This way, you can promote other products and services without committing readers to extra emails.
  • Help readers manage your information. Include a forward-to-a-friend link in messages where appropriate and a print option that links to a printer-friendly version of an HTML message. Label those functions, either with icons or brief text.