Archive for February, 2010

Charles from Binder and Binder & His Cowboy Hat Commercial: What’s the Deal?

February 23rd, 2010

Before you read further, watch this Binder and Binder commercial (it’s only 25 seconds long):

Maybe you’ve seen these commercials and have wondered the same thing…there is no way I can be the only one that feels a little bit turned off by the cowboy hat. Did he just get back from the ranch? So… what’s the deal with Charles Binder’s cowboy hat dude?

I have the answers… props to my mother who e-mailed Binder and Binder asking these questions. And ‘hats off’ (har har) to the folks at Binder and Binder and their communications department for responding to the request.

Hi Barbara,

I’m the guy responsible for the Binder and Binder commercials. I understand how you feel about Charles’ semi-disreputable hat. The reason he’s wearing it is simple. It was chilly on the day the commercial was recorded. It’s his hat, and he always wears his hat on a chilly day.

His line? We’ll deal with the government, you have enough to worry about,’ was the result of a question I asked him. I said, ‘If I were a client, what would you tell me was the most important thing that Binder and Binder would do for me.’

That line came from the heart. It wasn’t written for him. I think that comes through on the commercial. So we kept both the line, and the hat.

Some people say they don’t want to be represented by a guy who wears a hat. I think it’s what’s under the hat that counts. Nobody wins as many Social Security Disability cases as Binder and Binder. Nobody.

I think that leaves people with a choice: Hire the guy who wears a dorky hat, but gives you the best chance of winning your case, or go with a guy who doesn’t have that kind of track record but doesn’t wear a hat on a chilly day.

I appreciate the time and effort you took to let me know how you feel about our commercials, and I’d like to send you one of our nifty Binder sport shirts as a ‘thank you’ gift. So could you please just return this note with your shirt size and an address so I can send it to you.


Dick Summer
Communications Director

This is such an epic response. To break it down, he is wearing the hat because it was cold. I guess they were filming this outside… after all the Empire State building is in the background. It is Charles Binder’s hat, and he always wears it on a cold day. Don’t ask him to take it off because chances are he won’t (especially on a cold day).

The line that Charles says is “We’ll deal with the government, you have enough to worry about’. Fair enough… I probably would choose to say something else, but this isn’t bad. And if you couldn’t tell, that line came from his heart. There’s no doubt that he completely meant that. You can tell by his tone, his expression, and his hat.

It is true, some people don’t want to be represented by a man in a hat. Does this mean Charles Binder wears his hat to his meetings with the government? Is it common etiquette to take your hat off in a government building? Maybe when he deals with the government, they do it in a neutral location. Or maybe on his ranch. Regardless, it’s definitely what’s under the hat that counts. Are you kidding me? Seems like a fourth grader response (I feel obligated to mention that Charles Binder is bald).

Before being offered a ‘nifty’ Binder shirt, we are given an ultimatum: chose the guy with the hat, or chose the guy who doesn’t wear a hat on a chilly day. I’ll have to think about this one for a bit.

So what’s the deal with this?

I don’t know who is to blame for a botched commercial and a crappy PR response to a question. Should we point and laugh at Binder and Binder or our good friend Dick Summer who appears to be the communications director for Charles Binder and his cowboy hat. Maybe a bit of both.

Google ‘Binder and Binder’. As you type in the search query, look at the suggested queries that Google recommends:

What this means is in general, when people search for Binder and Binder online, folks are trying to find information about scams and complaints based around Binder and Binder, as well as the commercials with his hat. It looks like the commercial is creating quite the stir… about Charles Binder’s hat.

Watch the commercial again. Remember the guy that went all the way to Alaska? Well, it turns out that the picture of the advocate who went to Alaska is a picture of our very own Dick Summer, Communications Director. It wasn’t very hard to find the image on the internet that they used in the commercial. Seriously?

Looking at Binder and Binder’s and Dick Summer‘s website, it doesn’t seem like they’re too web savvy (in case you can’t read, there is an audio introduction to each of Dick Summer’s pages on his site). And judging by what we’ve found, it doesn’t seem like they’re great at producing commercials, either. I guess their target market consists of people who watch the ‘Price is Right’ or late night re-runs of your favorite 70s sitcoms, and people who don’t know what the internet is… it’s easy to find the warning signs of Binder and Binder by several web searches.

How can anyone take this company seriously? No wonder folks are getting scammed by them. I got nothin’ else. I really hope that we get some ‘nifty’ shirts out of this, though! Charles Binder, give me a MacBook and a few hours of your time, and I’ll be happy to create your next commercials. Only next time, we’ll have you wear a cape… after all, we all enjoy lawyers wearing capes. Both Dick Summer and Charles Binder are just a few french fries short of a happy meal.

And don’t forget to join the Charles Binder’s Hat facebook group!

Tiger Woods: Google Trends Appear In SERP

February 19th, 2010

Throwing out a short post in between other action items, but I am watching the Tiger Woods press conference. I have been following this story since it’s unfolding only because I am a golfer (7 handicap last summer… very proud of that). Anyways, I searched “Tiger Woods” during the press conference and was interested to see a Google trends graph on the bottom of the SERP (search engine result page).

Here is a screenshot taken from the bottom of the SERP during Tiger’s press conference: and Social Shopping

February 18th, 2010

Working at the last two years  as a comparison shopping manager, I’ve taken a liking to some of the comparison shopping engine models. I’ve seen good ones, I’ve seen really bad ones, but most of them are very transactional. About 95% of the shopping engines you’ll see fulfill demand. A lot of them have very robust search engine marketing campaigns, as well as a strong SEO presence. Just because a shopping engine brings in a lot of money to retail sites like doesn’t mean they’re great… some of the biggest revenue-producing shopping engines are still grouped as “really bad ones” in my eyes.

If a user goes to Google and searches for “north face jacket”, you’re going to see paid placements for a lot of retailers (including, of course). However, you’ll also see some comparison shopping sites bidding on these retail keywords. In this particular search, I’ve scanned over the first two pages and have found two shopping search engines. One being (a major shopping engine), and the other being (a site powered by… more on them later).

The problem that I see in most of the comparison shopping sites is that they are in it for the money; they are more interested in earnings than providing their users with a great experience. And to make more money, most of the time these sites will put up a lot of ads… ads that are meant to trick you into clicking on them (click-arbitrage) . In fact, all the product listings are essentially ads. Every time you click on a product that you find with the best price or from a store you recognize, the site that you click through to is paying that shopping engine. When you go to Nextag, or, or Shopzilla, a lot of the products that you see listed on top after you do a search are up there not because they are the most relevant product to your search, but because those advertisers are willing to pay the shopping engine more per click than the people below them. Hence, more money for the shopping engine.

Score: Shopping Engine, 1 – Consumer, 0

This is where enters the room. From their website:

Founded in 2006 by a team of seasoned internet entrepreneurs, ThisNext changed the way people discover and shop for products online. Today, Santa Monica-based ThisNext serves millions on consumers every month as the Web’s best place to discover the brands, products, trends and people that shape the future of what’s next.

ThisNext is taking a different approach to shopping search. They are helping users discover unique products in specific verticals thanks to other passionate users on the site.  ThisNext, unlike most other shopping search engines, uses web-based crowdsourcing, meaning they rely on their site’s users to provide content. Right on their homepage, the company states that ThisNext is where you “explore great product recommendations, get personalized shopping suggestions, and rave about products you like”. In comparison, Nextag’s mission is to “compare prices before you buy”. Can you see the difference in value between the two?

Simply put, ThisNext revolves around the shopper. The shopper who actively uses ThisNext vs. someone who stumbles upon your typical CSE may be more of a browser than a person ready to convert. However, despite the current state of the economy, the community based around ThisNext is very passionate around specific verticals of products listed on ThisNext, and seems to be very loyal. It’s a different approach to the shopping search game, and with the internet becoming more social, it will be fun to watch ThisNext expand in the next few years. They are already on the move, acquiring a company called Stylehive, a company similar in nature that concentrates their presence around fashion, beauty, and style. ThisNext also reported a Series C round of $1.2 million. Good for them!

After listening to CEO Scott Morrow discuss ThisNext on This Week In Startups, I’ve taken away that ThisNext makes 66% of their revenue through the leads that the generate through advertisers listing their products, and then the other 33% through advertising. If there is one thing I don’t like about ThisNext, it’s their Google Adsense listings all over the page. Hopefully these ads will vanish with time, but I guess as a start up content site, you gotta do what you gotta do.

In comparison to the other CSEs out there, I dig what ThisNext is doing. It gives more power to the people, and while it’s still small, hopefully ThisNext is the new wave of shopping search engines.

Follow CEO Scott Morrow on Twitter here.

Dale Begg-Smith: Olympic Medalist and Ad Guru?

February 15th, 2010

The Olympics have been on television now for three days and have been the hot topic of blogs, tweets, and searches across the internet. To say the least, it’s been fun following the winter Olympics this year. The internet has made this Winter Olympics probably one of the most interactive Olympics yet.  During the Olympics in 2006, Twitter was just an idea; now you can follow the Olympics in real time. At the games in Torino, internet television wasn’t openly accepted and Hulu hadn’t been created yet. Now, NBC is frantically trying to stop internet users from finding live video and illicit video clips, essentially playing a game of digital whack-a-mole (serves them right… this time delay is no good!)

Missed the opening ceremony? Not a problem! It’s a new age to say the least.

All of this aside, I had the television on in the background earlier, where the medal ceremony for the men’s mogul freestyle skiing event was taking place. Then I heard about the silver medalist, Dale Begg-Smith, who was a skier who had helped fund his training through his internet marketing company, which essentially made him a millionaire.

I looked into it and found some articles about his business. It seems that he started several companies with his brother when he was a teenager years ago that was based around pop-up and pop-under internet advertising. While no one likes pop-up ads, we’re talking about the internet just after the dot-com bust. The internet in 2001. I can’t believe how much has changed since then.

Regardless, it seems that Dale Begg-Smith’s company was controversial – not because of pop-up ads (as annoying as they are), but because of the adware and spyware associated with it. I am not going to pick a side, but considering he was able to scheme this while training to become an Olympian (he won gold in 2006), and become a millionaire all while he was a teenager, that’s just beyond me. As a wide-eyed teenager sitting in front of my computer in 1999 picturing all the opportunities the internet could provide me, whose to say I wouldn’t have done the same thing. I mean come on, my group of friends had our own money-making schemes (think… man, that’s old school).

It was funny finding out about all of this. I never thought I would be reading about a gold medalist who was into this kind of form of internet advertising. My opinion: Dale Begg-Smith is a smart guy. The internet back in 2000 was like a free-for-all in some respects. Of course, I don’t condone adware and spyware. I think it would be cool to sit down with Dale and talk internet advertising over lunch.

Google Buzz Appearing in Real-Time Search Results

February 10th, 2010

Looks like Google Buzz is going to be included in Google real-time search results the same way Twitter has been since Q4 of 2009.

Google released real-time search around December 7th. When I say ‘Google real-time search’, I am talking about up to the minute search results… that means that anything from Twitter updates, to blogs, to up-to-date news articles will be able to appear in the organic search locations on a search engine result page. If people are googling information about a recent event, it makes sense to show the most real-time articles and publications, doesn’t it?

With the “snowpocalypse” ripping through the east coast, I decided to Google “snow”. Because this is a hot trending word right now as more of the powder dumps all over the east, there was bound to be some Google real-time results. I was surprised to find a good amount of live results coming from Google Buzz (click the picture for a better view):

Of course Google Buzz is only one day old (yes, it was born yesterday), but showing Google Buzz results in their real-time search shows me that they’re pretty serious about this tool. I’ve heard various reactions from the community, some people hate it, and other folks think it has de-valued Facebook by 50%. I’ve tried it, I like it, but I’ll hold my opinion for a while.

Not quite sure what Google Buzz is? Have you seen the Google Buzz logo in your g-mail account, but still not sure what it does? I am still wrapping my head around it myself, so I would recommend you checking out their landing page at, or watch the video:

I realize I have been posting a lot about Google, but hey… Google is so hot right now.

Google Street View… for Ski Slopes?

February 9th, 2010

Quick story: I am a half-decent skier… I can make my way down all the black diamonds at The Canyons Resort and feel relatively confident about my ski style. Last year I was skiing a few diamonds on a March afternoon when I thought “I think I’ll give 9990 a try”. 9990, named after the elevation of the peak, offers more advanced and technical terrain at The Canyons. As I was going up the lift, I started to get more and more nervous as the lift went higher and higher. Long story short, I made it down safely, but I wish I was able to see slope-side images before I got myself in over my head.

As usual, Google seems to have the answer. I recently discovered that Google is using their street view technology to attack the slopes. Naturally, with the Vancouver Olympics starting in a few days, they snowmobiled their way around Whistler Blackcomb resort, taking pictures in a ‘Google Street View’ fashion.

What they’ve done is set up the Google Street View camera on the back of a snowmobile, and took that baby for a ride around the slopes that were navigable. The result is Google Street View for ski slopes.

Google has created a street view gallery where you can access the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb, as well as street view technology associated with other Olympic venues, such as the bobsled course, the alpine skiing course, the ski jumping venue, etc. All can be found here:

And if you’re curious how they were able to get these incredible pictures of the ski terrain in Vancouver, check out this behind the scenes video:

I hope the resorts out here in Utah can get in on this. It would help me and vacationers alike.

Google Superbowl Ad

February 8th, 2010
  • study abroad paris france
  • cafes near the louvre
  • translate tu es tres très mignon
  • impress a french girl
  • chocoloate shops paris france
  • what are truffles
  • who is truffaut
  • jobs in paris
  • AA 120
  • churches in paris
  • how to assemble a crib

These were the search queries used in the Google Superbowl Ad last night during the 2nd half of the game. Maybe I am a search nerd, but this was probably my favorite commercial of the night; very tasteful, told a good story, showed how Google is used, but at the same time was very emotional. To me, Google comes off as a “warm fuzzy” every time I watch the ad.

Besides, what on earth is “search overload” anyways?

This particular “parisian love” video has actually been around since November 2009, but it was a day before the game when I learned that this ad was going to be on TV (thanks @johnbattelle). For those wondering why this is such a big deal to me, it’s because Google is known for not advertising… ever. From Google CEO Eric Schmidt:

We didn’t set out to do a Super Bowl ad, or even a TV ad for search. Our goal was simply to create a series of short online videos about our products and our users, and how they interact. But we liked this video so much, and it’s had such a positive reaction on YouTube, that we decided to share it with a wider audience.

The ad got a lot of talk around the office. OK – probably not fair that I am waist deep in search engine marketing at But hey, I think it was a tasteful and effective ad.

P.S. If you ‘google’ the the search queries from the video, you’ll find six ads linking to their ‘Search On’ Youtube channel page… smart move! Interview

February 7th, 2010

In searching through my Google Analytics account for where traffic to my blog is coming from, I stumbled upon a referring site where I interviewed with the folks at Bizrate to kick off their blog back in July 2009. I forgot that this discussion was going to be published on their blog, but I figure I’d link back to their site to return the favor. Our discussion was based around how Bizrate ratings not only give customers a chance to voice their opinions about your store, but how the ratings can affect your Google Product Search rankings.

I remember when we talked to the folks at Bizrate about this, we were in the middle of a Google Product Search algorithm crisis, where GPS overhauled how retailer’s products were listed on GPS literally overnight (they also changed the position of the onebox on the search engine results page… that meant for bad times for retailers who relied too much on Google Product Search). Most of what we discussed still applied today. You can check out the short and sweet interview post here:

Now go watch the super bowl! Review

February 6th, 2010


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Blog Makeover – the new

February 4th, 2010

Ok – so if you haven’t noticed, my blog has gotten a nice makeover. The makeover includes an updated theme from Cordobo along with a few additional tweaks, several links to my other social sites (twitter, facebook, etc.), as well as a commitment to update the blog on a regular basis.

The blog is going to take a more professional direction, which means I’ll discuss internet marketing more so than I have in the past. I’ll still post about my whereabouts, my travels, and my recreational activities, so no fear! I plan on having fun with this.