Friday, 28 May 2010

Google gaining display advertising share

MediaPost reports that Google and Facebook are gaining a strong share of the display advertising market. Taking the latest data from market research firm IDC, the article says that Google's rise in display advertising has been so swift that the company now poses a serious threat to the biggest players in the segment - Yahoo and Microsoft.

Much of this growth in display advertising is attributed to YouTube, which is owned by Google, and the acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007. In fact Google has now overtaken the No. 3 company in the category, AOL - which had 6% share in the first quarter -and is now likely to push Microsoft, with a 9.5%, share, out of the No. 2 slot by the end of the year if current trends continue.

That would leave Yahoo as the remaining target for Google. The research indicates that Yahoo's share was 16.5% in the first quarter of 2010, but has been stuck at about 16% for the last five quarters. Facebook is also coming on strong too, although not quite as fast as Google. The world's largest social network has already surpassed News Corp. and CBS, the former No. 4- and 5-ranked companies in display, is poised to catch up to AOL within the next three to four quarters, based on the IDC figures.

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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Google tops most reputable companies list

The Forbes website reports on the latest survey of the world's most reputable companies, as surveyed by the Reputation Institute, a global private consulting firm based in New York. They assessed the strength of the world's 600 largest companies (by revenue) in their home countries and then consumers in 24 countries judged the 54 highest-rated companies, giving them ratings on their products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, financial performance and leadership.

Google topped the list and demonstrated a strong source of innovation, as did second place Sony - both of which received consumer admiration for new technologies that touch consumers' lives. As the article reports, Google not only generated $6.7 billion in advertising revenue for the first quarter of 2010 (up 23% from the same time period last year), but they also offer free services, such as e-mail and maps, for anyone to use.

The survey indicated that another important factor in building global reputation is the appearance of transparency, a category won by Google. When the company pulled out of China to avoid showing censored search results to users there in late March, Google sent a message to the rest of the world that its values would be placed ahead of its profits. The decision resonated strongly in Central and Northern Europe, Central and South America and in North America, where consumers rated the company within the top five most-reputable businesses.

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Friday, 21 May 2010

Google TV is announced

In a significant posting on the Google blog, the company has announced the launch of Google TV, which is positioned as a new experience for television that combines TV with the freedom and power of the Internet.

These new TVs will have the Google Chrome web browser built in, so that users can access websites as well as easily move between television and the web. This was an inevitable next month for Google and starts to open up the TV experience from a few hundred channels to millions of channels of entertainment across TV and the web. This will make the entire Internet available from the TV, so that it will also become a web browser, a photo slideshow viewer, a gaming console, a music player and much more.

Google TV will use search to give users an easy and fast way to navigate to television channels, websites, apps, shows and movies, making it a powerful tool to access a wide range of media. During the announcement at the Google I/O developers conference, the company challenged web developers to start coming up with new web and Android applications designed specifically for the TV experience. Developers can start optimizing their websites for Google TV now and can start to build even richer applications and distribute them through Android Market.

Google says that they have already started building strategic alliances with a number of companies at the leading edge of innovation in TV technology, such as Jinni.com, who produce a next-generation TV application working to provide semantic search, personalized recommendation and social features for Google TV. The company is also working with Sony and Logitech to put Google TV inside of televisions, Blu-ray players and companion boxes. These devices are expected to go on sale after September this year in the US.

Google has created a website and video with more information about this announcement.

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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

YouTube's 5th birthday

As reported widely in the media, such as the BBC, YouTube has reached its fifth anniversary and claims to now receive more than two billion 'hits' a day. This is, according to the owner of the site - Google - nearly double the number of people who tune into the US's 3 prime time TV stations combined.

YouTube co-founder, Chad Hurley, is reported as saying: "Two billion video streams is a large number but on average people are only spending 15 minutes a day on the site compared to five hours a day watching TV. I don't think we could have ever planned or imagined we would get to the scale or the size we are today". The site was bought by Google at the end of 2006 for $1.65bn and it was just seven months ago that it reported reaching one billion downloads a day, so the rapid rate of growth continues.

In March this year it was reported that 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Of course much of this is painful, time-wasting videos that demand little attention and clog up the site, but there are many entertaining and educational videos as well, with the site also giving the opportunity for new talents to display their creativity. YouTube is also being used by companies and organisations, with 'channels' hosted for everyone from Queen Elizabeth to the Pope and from President Barack Obama to the Iraqi government.

In the early days, YouTube was known for hosting pirated snippets of TV shows or movies. As the BBC report says, even today material gets pulled from the site because of issues over copyright. However, YouTube has been working hard to win over content makers as it modifies its service to stream professional films and cash in on a trend towards Internet television. Analysts have predicted that while the site has struggled to reach profitability since its creation, 2010 could be its year.

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Friday, 14 May 2010

Yahoo! & Microsoft tackle paid search integration

The Media Post blog has covered the story about the ongoing integration between Yahoo! and Microsoft search and in particular, the impact on their respective paid search (PPC) services. This follows blog posts by both companies, including answers to questions raised on the Yahoo! blog.

Microsoft and Yahoo have recognised the concerns expressed by existing advertisers of their two services as progress is being made towards moving all customers to Microsoft's ad platform adCenter. Both services currently offer different features and although the general consensus is that the adCenter platform is more user-friendly, the changes could take longer than expected.

The article outlines the type of issues being discussed, such as style issues regarding how singular and plural words that YSM sees as one word, but Bing does not. Also, whether liquor advertising keywords - which are allowed on Yahoo - will work on MSN, which does not allow liquor keywords like scotch. One key question is also whether advertisers will have the option in Microsoft adCenter to choose which search engine to run campaigns on - either Yahoo, Bing or both - although the current response seems to be negative.

These minute, but important, details could hold up any project this size. The two companies announced an alliance back in February, that would provide advertisers with the potential to reach more consumers through one account. Yahoo would sell the search ads through the adCenter system, but not the display ads for both companies.

The plan has been to transition US and Canadian customers to adCenter before the start of the holiday 2010 search period, but in a recent blog post to advertisers this is now expected to take longer - probably into the early part of 2011.

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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Google adds broad match modifier to AdWords

The Google AdWords blog has announced the introduction of the broad match modifier - a new keyword targeting feature for AdWords that lets advertisers create keywords that have greater reach than phrase match and more control than broad match. At present this feature is only being made available in the UK and Canadian markets, but is likely to be rolled out worldwide at a later date.

The default broad match targeting feature in AdWords has come under some criticism from advertisers as it can mean that ads are displayed for a wider variety of terms than expected, sometimes including search terms that don't include any of the targeted terms but which are seen by Google as related. It has sometimes been felt that the broad match criteria can be expanded by Google at times, without advertisers being aware of this, and therefore a close eye needs to be kept on search query reports and the use of negative terms.

Of course the alternative to using broad match is to get better targeting through phrase and exact match, although this can significantly reduce the number of likely impressions unless al possible search term variations are included. Now, by adding the modified broad match keywords to a campaign, advertisers should be able to find a middle ground and get more clicks and conversions at an improved ROI.

The new modifier works by placing a plus symbol (+) directly in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. Each word preceded by a + has to appear in the potential customer's search exactly or as a close variant. Google says that close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings (like “floor” and “flooring”). Synonyms (like “quick” and “fast”) and related searches (like “flowers” and “tulips”) aren't considered close variants.

Match behavior from this new setting will depend on the specific words that are modified, so that a single word in a phrase can include the modifier in front of it, or a combination or all words can include the modify symbol. For example, the keyword formal +shoes will match the search “evening shoes,” but the keyword +formal +shoes will not.

The Google blog says that modified broad match keywords have a traffic potential closer to phrase match than broad match. So, if advertisers mainly use broad match keywords in their account, switching these keywords to modified broad match will likely lead to a significant decline in the overall click and conversion volumes. In order to maintain these volumes, Google recommends keeping existing broad match keywords active, adding new modified broad match keywords, and adjusting bids to achieve the target ROI based on observed performance.

More information on the new broad match modifier can be found here.

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Monday, 10 May 2010

Online advertising shows 17% annual growth

The new quarterly report from IAB Australia shows that the national online advertising market continues to record strong growth with expenditure for the March quarter 2010 growing by 17% year on year. The figures have been compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and record online expenditure for the first three months of 2010 at $512.5 million, although this is the same level as the fourth quarter of 2009.

The classifieds and search and directories categories delivered significant growth in comparison with the prior quarter, however, this was balanced by a reduction in the general display market, which reflects the usual seasonality of the first quarter of each calendar year. However, the decline was less than the historical average, which indicates the strength of the general display market and the ongoing strength of the online market in general compared to other forms of advertising.

Classified advertising and search and directories advertising were the key growth drivers during the quarter, growing by 9.4% and 2% respectively, while general display declined by 11.1% on the prior quarter. Search and directories advertising continued to account for the largest share of total advertising expenditure, representing 51.7% of the market or $264.75 million. General display accounting for 24.6% ($126m) and classified advertising accounting for 23.8% ($121.75m) during the quarter.

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Thursday, 6 May 2010

Google updates search layout

Google's search results are taking on a new look. As reported by the Google blog, the layout and design of the search results page have been given an overhaul and users will now see search results presented in a slightly different way.

The most noticeable change is the addition of the 'contextually relevant', left-hand navigation to the search results page. These options used to be more hidden and available through a small link at the top of the search page, but Google has now decided to make these more evident and also match the layout of the search page that Bing presents. On regional search versions of Google, the 'pages from' search option has now disappeared from the main search page and can only be accessed from this side panel once an initial search has been made.

The new side panel also highlights the most relevant search tools and refinements for a search query, so it takes in the 'Universal Search' options, such as images, videos, news, books and more, as well as recency filters and other search refinement tools.

In addition to the addition of the left-hand side search options, Google has also updated the look and feel of the search results in terms of the colour palette and logo. As Google says in the blog post, "these changes are slight, keeping our page minimalist and whimsical, but make our overall look more modern".

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Monday, 3 May 2010

Web marketing newsletter published for May

The latest issue of the monthly Web Search & Marketing newsletter has been published for May, covering some of the recent stories on web search and online marketing trends.

This month's edition looks at why Google's new service, "Google Places" is a renamed version of their Local Business Center. This has been done primarily to better connect Place Pages with the tool that enables business owners to manage their presence on Google, but also introduces some new services for companies to advertise their business to a local market.

It also looks at the announcement from Twitter about their new advertising scheme called 'Promoted Tweets'. Twitter is gradually rolling out this advertising to users and there are 10 initial advertisers taking part. Finally in this issue, there is a review of Google's announcement about their new Remarketing tool and how this allows companies to display tailored ads on sites throughout the Google content network.

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 regular newsletter you can see the archive by date or by subject.

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