Archive for the ‘Internet Marketing’ category

Google Introduces ‘Seller Rating Extensions’ On Google Adwords Ads.

June 28th, 2010

I think this is fairly new for advertisers in the US. Maybe I missed a press release somewhere, but it looks like Google quietly launched a new feature in Adwords: a Google Product Search Rating OneBox:

I just did a search for ‘showers pass jacket’ and I saw an ad for REI. The ad is interesting because when you click on the text “rated”, it takes you to a Google Product Search rating page for the merchant. If you keep clicking, you will more than likely wind up on the retailer’s page, free of charge. Heck, in some cases, the folks like Bizrate.com may get some money out of this. I clicked through from the Google SERP to the GPS ratings page to a review on Bizrate all the way through to REI’s homepage (via a PPC link on Bizrate).

It’s an interesting move on Google’s part. Maybe draw some more eyes towards paid search ads, maybe draw more attention to Google Product Search, maybe give the user a sense of trust for the retailer being rated (and a sense of trust with Google), maybe to help keep the advertisers honest, maybe a mix of everything.

Should be fun to see where this goes and how various advertisers react.

Update: I just read the post on the Inside AdWords (maybe I should have came here first… ha!) These are officially called seller rating extensions. And wow – what a plan this sounds like. From Google:

If your online store is rated in Google Product Search, you have 4 or more stars, and you have at least 30 reviews, you’ll automatically get seller ratings with your ads. What’s more, you’ll only be charged if someone clicks on the headline of your ad – clicks on the review link are free.

All e-tailers, start your engines… this could be fun! The ads are rolling out over the next 24 hours. This is another way to owning more SERP real estate. I predict an onslaught of accounts being open with Bizrate (and other various rating sites that GPS crawls). I wonder if you can opt out of this (for whatever reason).

I think this is fairly new for advertisers in the US. Maybe I missed a press release somewhere, but it looks like Google quietly launched a new feature in Adwords: a Google Product Search Rating OneBox:

I just did a search for ‘showers pass jacket’ and I saw an ad for REI. The ad is interesting because when you click on the text “rated”, it takes you to a Google Product Search rating page for the merchant. If you keep clicking, you will more than likely wind up on the retailer’s page, free of charge. Heck, in some cases, the folks like Bizrate.com may get some money out of this. I clicked through from the Google SERP to the GPS ratings page to a review on Bizrate all the way through to REI’s homepage (via a PPC link on Bizrate).

It’s an interesting move on Google’s part. Maybe draw some more eyes towards paid search ads, maybe draw more attention to Google Product Search, maybe give the user a sense of trust for the retailer being rated (and a sense of trust with Google), maybe a mix of everything.

Should be fun to see where this goes and how various advertisers react.

Update: I just read the post on the Inside AdWords (maybe I should have came here first… ha!) These are officially called seller rating extensions. And wow – what a plan this sounds like. From Google:

If your online store is rated in Google Product Search, you have 4 or more stars, and you have at least 30 reviews, you’ll automatically get seller ratings with your ads. What’s more, you’ll only be charged if someone clicks on the headline of your ad – clicks on the review link are free.

All e-tailers, start your engines! This could be fun. The ads are rolling out over the next 24 hours. This is another way to owning more SERP real estate. I predict an onslaught of accounts being open with Bizrate.

‘Delivering Happiness’ Book Review And Thoughts

June 21st, 2010

I was excited when I received a package from Amazon a week ago with a copy of Tony Hsieh’s book ‘Delivering Happiness’. I actually got a copy for free because of some contest on twitter or something back in April or May. I thought it was a scam, like one of those banners that say “Congrats! You’re the 999,999th visitor!” Apparently, they gave away many copies to folks who signed up on their website and tweeted about the book. I guess it does pay to be on twitter.

Having heard all the buzz about Zappos for the last 4 years and seeing all the PR that the company was getting, I knew that it was a book that I was going to pick it up. During my several years working at Backcountry.com, I remember folks coming to my desk telling me that they had seen Zappos ads running on keywords that we were bidding on. Their ads read something like “Free Overnight Shipping, free return shipping”. I’ll be honest, it’s tough to compete with that! I had to know the deal behind this company in Las Vegas.

The book is organized into three sections and reads very well. The first hundred pages of the book were very entertaining. Tony told a lot of stories about his businesses when he was young, starting with a worm farm, progressing into a button mail-order company. Some of the companies did well, others not so much, but it was fun to read through all of his ventures and what he learned from each one. Hsieh attended Harvard, and had some great stories about his ventures in college as well, which included running a pizzeria in the bottom of his dorm.

Tony was always taking risks, from buying supplies for the worm farm from his allowance to throwing down a few thousand dollars to buy a pizza oven. When Tony got out of college, he took a job with Oracle, only to take another big risk 4 months later by leaving and starting up a web-design company with his college buddy and roommate Sanjay, who also worked at Oracle. Push comes to shove, they focused their efforts on an idea they called LinkExchange, which they built up and sold to Microsoft for $265MM.

While LinkExchange was growing, he realized that he was hiring people who were smart and passionate, but not passionate for the right reasons. I would say this is a turning point in the book where he began to realize that creating a company culture was underrated and would pay off in so many ways in the long-run.

I won’t give a play by play for the rest of the book, but Tony writes a great story of Zappos going through their ups and downs from when they were a small company in San Francisco to the time they sold the company in 2009 to Amazon. He tells us everything he has learned in his 10 years at Zappos; everything from creating a company culture, to the mistakes he’s made, and how happiness plays such a key role in the way he runs his business.

The book flows nicely all the way through the Amazon/Zappos deal in the summer of 2009, which I remember distinctly. When working at Backcountry.com, the day they announced this deal, our whole office was buzzing. Everybody in the office that day had their eyes glued to various news websites and blogs, reading the buzz that this acquisition was producing. I would be lying if I said we all weren’t a little envious of Zappos’ tactics.

For anyone out there working at a retail or ecommerce store, I highly recommend this book. On top of it being a fun read, I took away a lot of wisdom. Heck, you don’t need to work in retail to enjoy this book. If you’re interested in wondering how to bring happiness to your employees, to your customers, to yourself, and to the world, pick up the book. I’d put this book up there with ‘Good to Great’ and ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ The book has changed my outlook on a lot of subjects, and I hope to make changes to the way I run my business moving forward based on the stories and lessons found here.

Thanks for writing this, Tony! It was a tough book to put down.

For more info, check out these links:

Zappos home page

‘Delivering Happiness’ website

How Twitter Can Make You A Better (and Happier) Person

Google Product Search: 10 Reasons Why It’s Great and Why It Will Always Be Free

May 24th, 2010

Quality score. Inbound links. Broad match vs. phrase match. Robots.txt. Universal search. A/B split testing.  All of these terms are familiar to you if you are a search engine marketer. SEM and SEO get a lot of play these days in blogs, webinars, and tweets. I’d like to take this time to discuss a Google product that doesn’t get a lot of play in the internet marketing world, yet if you are a retailer, you know or should know how important it is. As a CSE consultant, I’m still shocked on how little some retailers know about Google Product Search.
» Read more: Google Product Search: 10 Reasons Why It’s Great and Why It Will Always Be Free

Viglink.com Review… A Smart Way to Monetize Blogs

March 3rd, 2010

“I just got this awesome book from Amazon… it’s called ‘Twitter Power’. You should totally buy it if you like to tweet.”

“I just bought a rockin’ iPod Nano from Walmart at a great price… you should check it out!”

“What? You haven’t heard of the kindle yet? It’s a wireless reading device… in 10 years everyone will have one.”

In these above sentences, I am testing out a new program that I’ve installed to my blog called Viglink. Viglink is a quick and easy way to monetize your blog (or website) through links that you may have already placed on your site. From Viglink’s FAQ page:

VigLink enables you to get paid for doing what you normally do on your blog or site. Whenever you link to a product, website, or promotion, VigLink turns that link into an affiliate link so that you receive a commission for any purchases made.

So in the above three sentences where I mention the book Twitter Power, the iPod Nano, and the Kindle, I linked to Amazon.com twice and Walmart.com once. However, Viglink inserted some tracking code on the end of the URL that tracks users coming from my site. If you then buy those items, or any item on those sites in a certain time frame, they’ll see that I referred them to the store and I’ll get a commission. It’s affiliate marketing 101, but it’s interesting because Viglink makes it easy for you to become an affiliate. There are many affiliate programs out there that anyone can gain access to; the problem is that signing up for them is very time consuming. It’s a great concept, and while there are other companies that have done this in the past, Viglink does a great job explaining how it works.

In case you were wondering, Viglink makes their money by taking a slice of the revenue made from your sale. Considering how easy it was to set up, I’d gladly give them a slice of the pie.

Because some companies have been building sites based around the same concept (SkimLinks, DrivingRevenue, Chango), Viglink has been backed with $800k seed funding, some of which coming from Google Ventures. I expect bigger and better things from Viglink, especially with Google backing them… that says a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved this concept to monetizing tweets, amongst other things. Only time will tell…

Give it a shot @ Viglink.com.

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:

ThisNext.com and Social Shopping

February 18th, 2010

Working at Backcountry.com 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 Backcountry.com 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 Backcountry.com, 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 Nextag.com (a major shopping engine), and the other being Netshoppers.com (a site powered by Pricegrabber.com… 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 Shopping.com, 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 ThisNext.com 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 AllAdvantage.com… 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 http://www.google.com/buzz, 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: http://www.google.com/help/maps/streetview/gallery/#the-games

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 Backcountry.com. 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!