Thursday, 25 November 2010

Walled gardens on the web

The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has published an article in Scientific American that calls for continued open standards and net neutrality to protect the web as it was originally intended. This marks the 20th anniversary of the WWW next month, when the first website and browser was tested by Berners-Lee, to use the structure of the Internet in a use-friendly manner to exchange information.

The Web has now evolved into a tool that is taken for granted. However, Berners-Lee is concerned that the future of the Web is being threatened in different ways. In particular, he identifies large social-networking sites, such as Facebook, that are walling off information posted by users from the rest of the Web. He also cites wireless Internet providers who are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. And Governments that are monitoring people’s online habits and endangering important human rights.

He says that if these trends continue unchecked, then the Web could be broken into fragmented islands and users would lose the freedom to connect with whichever Web sites they want. He also asks why should you care? The answer is that the Web was created for public use and remains a powerful public resource on which everyone now depends. The Web is also vital to democracy, a communications channel that makes possible a continuous worldwide conversation.

It's an intriguing and thought-provoking article from the man who started it all, and who remains protective of the ideals of the Web, reminding users that after the first 20 years there remain challenges and threats to the future development of this medium.

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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Google launches Hotpot

Google has launched a new service called Hotpot, which is described as a local recommendation engine powered by users. This social recommendation tool will contribute information to local search results for places on Google, making the information more personal, relevant and trustworthy within a social group.

By using Google Places as the base information, logged in users will be able to rate places and see information about other similar rated locations. This rating information can then be shared with friends and, in return, users can also see the places their friends have recommended. To accompany this service, Google has created a Hotpot rating app that allows users to quickly rate all the places they’ve been to and choose exactly which friends they want to invite to Hotpot.

As a logged in Google account user, people can see recommendations in search results, or recommended places by using the new Place Search and clicking on the “Places” filter. Users can also see recommendations when searching on Google Maps, Google Maps for Android or when checking the Place pages for a specific business.

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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Google rolls out Product Listing adverts

Google AdWords has announced the expansion of their Product Listing adverts, which are now available to US advertisers. These ads allow retailers to promote their product inventory as part of their AdWords listings and during the beta trial period, Google says that the results showed that people were twice as likely to click on a Product Listing Ad as they are to click on a standard text ad in the same location.

These Product Listing Ads enable users to see the exact products being offered before they even click through to the website, so they can be a way of increasing or filtering searchers to the site, which in turn should lead to higher quality visits and higher ROI.

Like Product Extensions -which lets advertisers add the pictures and prices of relevant products to the keyword-targeted text ads, Product Listing Ads makes it easy to show the most relevant products from a Google Merchant Center account to potential customers searching on Google. However, unlike Product Extensions, Product Listing Ads don’t require any keywords or ad text since the ads are automatically triggered whenever someone’s search matches an item in the Merchant Center account, making it easy to show relevant ads from the entire product inventory.

Once these options are established in the US, it's likely that they will be rolled out to other markets, in particular those that already use Google Product Search.

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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Australian Internet advertising spend continues to grow

The latest quarterly report from the IAB Australia shows further growth in online advertising expenditure in Australia. Another record quarter of $571.75 million in spend reflects a 23% year on year growth, up by $105.5m.

The Online Advertising Expenditure Report (OAER) shows that there was annual growth in all the categories tracked - general display (26%), classifieds (30%), search and directories (18%) - for the July-September period compared to 2009. The classifieds category showed the strongest growth for the quarter, following some declines in expenditure over the previous year, whereas search and directories is showing a slower level of growth in an already strong sector.

General display advertising and classifieds advertising accounted for 26.5% and 24.6% respectively of the total advertising expenditure for the third-quarter 2010, while search & directories advertising comprised the remaining 48.9% (a slight decline in share compared to the previous quarter).

Within the general display category, email based advertising comprised $7.6m of advertising expenditure, while video based advertising comprised $8.4m of advertising expenditure, slightly down on Q2 2010. CPM based pricing continued as the dominant expenditure type with 75% of advertising expenditure on a CPM basis, and 25% on a direct response basis.

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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Measuring phone calls from AdWords

In another significant new announcement from Google, their AdWords blog has revealed that they are starting to test phone call tracking for a limited number of accounts in the US. This has been one of the main gaps in tracking enquiry conversions from an AdWords campaign, but one that might soon help advertisers get a clearer picture of the real ROI (Return on Investment) from their advertising spend.

AdWords call metrics will use the technology behind Google Voice, so that each campaign will be assigned a unique phone number which is automatically inserted into the adverts on both desktop and high-end mobile devices (where the number is clickable, as now).

When a user calls the number shown in the ad, the call is automatically routed to the business, and AdWords notes that this call took place. This data will be shown within the AdWords reports, where the number of calls generated by each campaign will be displayed, alongside call duration, and caller area code. Advertisers will still only pay for clicks on their ads, but Google says that they also intend to charge for call metrics in the future.

This will undoubtedly be a significant improvement for advertisers and one that will hopefully be rolled out to all campaigns and countries soon.

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Monday, 1 November 2010

Web marketing newsletter published for November

The latest issue of our monthly Web Search & Marketing newsletter has been published for November.

Following on from last month's issue which looked at 10 common questions about Pay-Per-Click Advertising, this month's issue focuses on Website Analytics and why this is an important part of your online marketing activity. You can read 10 of the most common questions asked about analytics and, in particular, Google Analytics.

Next month the newsletter will continue this special focus with some frequently asked questions about social media marketing.

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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