Friday, 21 December 2007

Google gets approval for DoubleClick acquisition

The Associated Press reports that the Federal Trade Commission in the US have approved Google's $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick by 4 votes to 1, so enabling this major combination of online advertising businesses to proceed.

The FTC stated that "After carefully reviewing the evidence, we have concluded that Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick is unlikely to substantially lessen competition." However, Google's plans still face substantial anti-trust scrutiny in Europe where a decision is expected in April next year and Google has said that it won't close the deal before it has clearance from European regulators.

Microsoft and others have opposed the transaction on the basis that it would give Google a dominant share of the rapidly growing online advertising market but Google has argued that the two businesses won't overlap and reduce competition. Privacy advocates have also been strongly opposed to the deal because the combined company would hold an unprecedented amount of data on individual web surfing habits. However, the FTC has said that it didn't have the legal authority to block the deal on any grounds except on anti-trust matters.

In a response to Google's acquisition, Microsoft and Viacom have announced a closer partnership by agreeing new content-sharing arrangements, with Viacom also using Microsoft's online advertising system for greater market reach and sending a clear message to Google that they will still need to compete for a significant share of the online advertising market in the future.

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Thursday, 20 December 2007

Google removes Supplemental Index

Google's blog has announced that their Supplemental Index has now been removed and will no longer be a factor in the search results. This part of the search engine's index was a 'reserve' list of web pages that might have been updated less often, duplicated content or not flagged as relevant content for other reasons, other these pages would appear in very specific searches if the main index couldn't produce enough results.

Supplemental results used to be flagged within the search listings up until several months ago, when Google dropped this indicator. Now their announcement says that advances in their technology enables the full index to be used within all search results, so that the supplemental definition doesn't exist any more.

That's good news because websites should now start to display more indexed pages and there may be more opportunities for a website to appear within 'long tail' search terms. Will this move also mark another step towards the PageRank indicator being removed from the Toolbar as well?

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Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Video sitemaps from Google

Google have announced the introduction of a video sitemap format, enabling webmasters to submit information to Google Video Search about any videos included in a website.

The xml sitemap format follows the main sitemaps protocol and recognises that videos need to be indexed and made more searchable, particularly as 'universal search' develops and the use of multimedia for content becomes more widespread.

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Monday, 17 December 2007

Google announces 'knol' reference tool

Google announced a new initiative on their official blog last week which is targeted at challenging Wikipedia as an online reference tool. This story is now being covered widely in the worldwide press, including the Sydney Morning Herald.

Named 'knol' by Google (a unit of knowledge - geddit!), the development is planned to develop into a social reference site where users can contribute information. There will be no editorial control by Google and therefore articles will rely on the reputation of contributors and a voting system by users to help push the 'best' articles to the fore. Contributor details will be published, unlike on Wikipedia, and potentially they could earn revenue from traffic visiting their pages.

Google has posted an image from a typical page that may be posted on 'knol', although at present access to the new tool is limited during its testing phase. However, this is clearly a challenge to Wikipedia if it takes off and the 2 different systems of generating knowledge from the masses will come under close scrutiny and comparison.

This is another move by Google to secure more traffic from the web and also possibly a reply to Wikipedia's move to launch a new search engine in 2008.

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Friday, 14 December 2007

Google adds new webmaster tools

Google's Webmaster Tools have seen a range of new features being added over the past few months to help webmasters analyse and improve the performance and management of their websites. The Webmaster Central blog has announced 2 new features to add to this array of services for webmasters.

Firstly, a content analysis feature provides additional feedback about issues that could impact the user experience on a website, or may make it difficult for Google to crawl and index pages from the domain. Highlighted issues may need to be addressed to eliminate potential problems with the indexing of a site, either by Google or other search engines as well. There is also a new section highlighting any issues with the site's title tags (such as duplicates throughout the site, or length issues), meta descriptions and any non-indexable content.

The second new feature is additional information on any sitemap files that have been submitted to Google for indexing. There is clearer information on the number of pages submitted through the sitemap and indexed by Google, as well as comments on any errors with the indexing.

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Thursday, 13 December 2007

Affiliate marketing faces traffic hijacking

A report by the Sydney Morning Herald today examines the increasingly disturbing practice of 'cookie hijackers' on the Internet intercepting web traffic from affiliate programmes to earn the referral fees fraudulently.

It says that the NSW Police Fraud Squad's computer crime unit is now examining hundreds of pages of evidence compiled by online companies which have lost millions of dollars to 'shady' operators who use Trojan software and other techniques to hijack the affiliate identification cookies from legitimate affiliate websites that are promoting links to online merchants in return for sales or advertising commissions.

DMG, who run some of the largest affiliate programmes in Australia, claim that their business and connected affiliates have lost up to $1 million in the past 18 months, with numerous online merchants having had their cookie trails deliberately manipulated by rogue affiliates which receive the commissions instead of those that have legitimately directed users to a website.

This is clearly an issue that needs to be resolved by the affiliate programme managers to ensure the credibility and effectiveness of their systems and to ensure the security and transparency of the affiliate marketing programmes that they operate.

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Monday, 10 December 2007

China's growing digital market

Advertising Age reports on a recent Digital Marketing conference they hosted in China, looking at the online marketplace in China. It says that China is now close to becoming the world's biggest digital market due to the number of users that are now active, with 500 million mobile-phone subscribers and more than 122 million broadband users.

Spending on digital marketing in China is behind the levels of other leading digital economies, although multinationals are testing the market and expect to see significant growth here over the coming years. At present an estimated 5% of all media spending is channelled online in China although this is likely to reach 8-10% soon, which will place China at the forefront of Internet marketing spend worldwide as more local and national companies take advantage of the medium to reach significant proportions of the population.

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Friday, 7 December 2007

Google reveals 'dead' canoeist

More information has emerged on the fascinating story from the UK about the 'dead' canoeist - and it involves Google. John Darwin was reported missing 5 years ago and was presumed dead when his broken canoe washed ashore, although no body was found. This week he has now turned up at a police station claiming amnesia and has since been arrested for fraud.

Apparently the story has emerged that new evidence came to light when a curious/suspicious woman trawled Google to find out more about the man and came across a picture of Darwin and his wife in Panama taken a year ago. After much fruitless searching, she typed in 'John, Anne and Panama' (following some speculation about the country) and found an image of them on a property website in Panama. She then alerted the police and presumably Darwin decided to hand himself in once the truth was revealed.

This is another example of the power of Google! You might try to disappear 'off the grid' to claim your life insurance, but also you need to make sure that you don't have any reason to appear on the web, because Google will find you. Or at least, try changing your name - duh!

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Thursday, 6 December 2007

Optimising keywords on Google's content network

The Google AdWords blog has published some tips on optimising keywords for their 3rd-party content network - where the PPC ads appear on other websites, dependent on the textual theme of a page matching the search terms that an advertiser might be targeting.

The articles confirms that content targeting operates at the AdGroup level, not at the keyword level, so that all the keywords in an AdGroup, along with the advert text, are evaluated by Google when deciding whether to show an advert on a specific content page. This means that it's important for all the keywords in an ad group to belong to a common theme and Google also recommends keeping campaigns separate for advertising on content and search.

The tips that relate to contextual targeting include creating a manageable, targeted keyword list; using tightly themed AdGroups; using duplicate keywords for appropriate AdGroups; using ad group level URLs instead of keyword level URLs; measuring content performance at the AdGroup level; and building a comprehensive negative keyword list. More information and explanation of these points are contained within the article.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Google AdWords launch Local PlusBox

Google AdWords have announced a new feature for local advertisers who use PPC advertising, in another move to support local marketing opportunities. The Local PlusBox is a feature that appears below the local advert, with a small + symbol and address that expands to a location map and address for the advertised business.

This feature is only available to advertisers who are using local business adverts and are also bidding high enough to appear in the sponsored results panel above the main Google results, so may be limited for many local advertisers, but on the positive side they will still only pay the cost if a user clicks onto their site, so the map and address details are displayed at no charge as an extra feature for searchers. The feature will also be limited to AdWords accounts in the USA, Canada, UK, and Germany initially but should then be rolled out to other countries at a later date.

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Monday, 3 December 2007

Web marketing newsletter for December published

The new monthly issue of our newsletter has been published today, covering some of the latest stories on web search and marketing trends. This month looks at the advertising opportunities on Facebook, some of the new features that have been added to the Placement Targeting option on Google AdWords, plus some recent research from the UK that implies that many small business websites are not using online marketing effectively and are therefore 'wasting' the value of their website development.

If you want to sign up for future issues of this newsletter, please do so by using the form at the bottom of this page. To view back issues of this newsletter you can see the archive by date or by subject.

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