Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Video #2 - AdWords Changes in 2006 You Need to Know About

In this video I discuss the three major changes to Google's AdWords system in 2006. I know, I know - I don't have the greatest on-camera presence, but in my defense I only stuttered a few times.

Shameless Using YouTube

Two or three quarters from now you won't just be able to create a video to promote your firm, upload it to YouTube free of charge and get good quantities of targeted, free traffic.

While the good times last, however, I'm doing just that. Here's the first of several videos we recorded and put onto YouTube - this one discusses the difference between EF's portfolio-based keyword optimization and the rules-based systems other SEM's employ.

More to come...

Efficient Frontier Webinar Thursday Nov. 2

I'll be doing a webinar titled "4 Critical Steps to Optimize Search Campaigns" along with Shar Van Boskirk of Forrester Research this Thursday, so if you're interested, feel free to attend - I'd love to have you involved.

WEBINAR - 4 Critical Steps to Optimize Search Campaigns
A webinar designed for search marketers

Join: Efficient Frontier and Forrester Research
Shar VanBoskirk, Forrester
Chris Zaharias, SVP Strategic Initiatives, Efficient Frontier
Date: November 2, 2006 11am PT / 2pm ET
Register: https://efrontierevents.webex.com/mw0302l/mywebex/default.do?siteurl=efrontierevents

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Quick Response Codes: Japan's Waaaay Ahead

The below is the entirety of an article from today's issue of IHT.com talking about the wide adoption of Quick Response codes in Japan. For those wondering how the tracking and optimization of online marketing will find its way into the greater offline ad world, look no further:

"The twentysomething with the ponytail races down the steps to the platform to find that she has just missed her subway and will have to wait seven minutes for the next one.

She is unperturbed about the unexpected delay. She pulls out her cellphone, snaps a picture of a corner of the movie poster on the other side of the tracks and, a few seconds later, she has a list of show times at neighborhood theaters on her handset as well as a review of the film. With one more click, she can watch the trailer and buy tickets.

In Japan, this scene is so common as to border on the banal, and the technology that makes it possible, QR codes, is so widespread that it is employed in dozens of retail industries. In Europe and North America, a handful of imitators are looking to the QR model to try to give "point and click" a whole new meaning outside Asia.

QR, or quick response, codes are a similar to bar codes except they are square, look a bit like an ink blot and contain much more information. In Japan and South Korea, QR codes are used to link directly to a Web site, as in the case of the subway poster, saving the user the need to type an address on the tiny keypad of the phone. As marketers seek an edge on competitors, QR codes are appearing practically everywhere in Japan.

"Somebody can go to the meat section of some supermarkets in Japan and use a QR code to find out what the cow ate, where it came from and where it was processed," said Junn Chanoki, the Tokyo-based head of food and agribusiness research for Rabobank, a Dutch investment bank. "Ninety percent of Japanese have a mobile phone, and most phones are connected to the Internet, so the number of potential users is enormous."

QR codes are now popping up on Japanese business cards, allowing somebody to snap a picture with a cellphone and save the bother of entering a new contact's information. Last month, McDonald's began putting the codes directly on food packaging so that Japanese diners could get nutrition information instantly.

Denso Wave, a Japanese electronics company, created QR codes in 1994 to track car parts, employing hand-held devices that are still in use. Although it patented the process, the company allowed anybody to create QR codes without having to pay a licensing fee. That helped the technology take off.

But that by itself would not have been enough to guarantee the code's ubiquity, said Daniel Scuka, the editor of Wireless Watch Japan, an online publication.

"QR codes have been a great success in Japan because phone carriers confronted this in a systemic way, with all of them using the same technology," he said - a potential lesson for carriers in Europe and the United States.

When QR codes first came into use about five years ago, software had to be downloaded onto phones that allowed the handset to decipher the code once it had been photographed. Now, most phones sold in Japan have the software built in, or it can be downloaded directly to the handset.

"The power of QR is that it is easy to use and potentially turns anything into a direct connection between advertiser and client," said Kent Wertime, the Bangkok-based president for the Asian operations of OgilvyOne, a digital and direct marketing agency.

While QR codes have had success in Japan and South Korea, they have not made the leap to the rest of Asia, Europe and North America. MobileTag, developed by the French company Abaxia, and ShotCode, created by a Swedish-Dutch start-up called OP3, are similar to QR codes and could be the early favorites to grab market share outside Asia, should the technology catch on.

But by the time the rest of the world begins using something like QR, Japan may well have moved on to the next thing. Fujitsu said last month that it had developed a new type of data- storing code that worked like QR codes but blended into pictures, making it imperceptible.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Video Showing the AdSense Dark Side

A funny video to watch if you've ever wondered about the quality of AdSense clicks.

AdWords Abuse Video from YouTube

There are a bunch of interesting PPC-related videos on YouTube. This one is on distribution fraud purportedly taking place within Google's search network.

Monday, October 09, 2006

AdWords Account Hijacked To Attack... David Lamond?

I logged in to my AdWords account today (my personal account from which I run campaigns from time to time), and noticed that someone got access to my account and created an adgroup whose goal is to personally attack David Lamond, son of Pierre Lamond.

I had never heard of either David or Pierre before, but it turns out Pierre was one of the cofounders of National Semiconductor, and is also a VC at Sequoia Capital. I don't know what his son David does for a living, but apparently someone who knows AdWords thought little enough of him to take the time to hack their way into my AdWords account (and others' accounts) and start a campaign to drive traffic to a blog titled www.theyonlyrespectme4mydad.com but which redirects to www.iampierrelamondssonandiaintdonesquat.blogspot.com/. Jerry Fripp is listed as the blog owner, but the name's obviously fictitious.

Given the high number of views to the target blog's profile page, it would appear as though others' AdWords accounts have been similarly penetrated.

It's strange enough that someone has taken the time to do such a thing, stranger still that they've used AdWords to do it, and a bit scary that they appear to have been able to get into multiple AdWords accounts to perform their attack on other peoples' dimes.

If Jerry Fripp actually exists, then he's just been framed by someone with a serious grudge against David Lamond.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

SEM Competition: The Perpetual Motion Machine Trick

I know some people in the SEM space like hearing about how competition plays out, and so I'll share a funny story:

One of our clients is a big finance site who's been with us for roughly two years. During this time we've worked extremely closely with them and in a manner that makes me SO proud to have the account management team we have.

A Sales VP at one of the companies that competes with us recently resorted to the following tactic:

1)Offer a *free* 3-month test to a big EF advertiser to get his foot in the door
2)Start test
3)Email several other EF advertisers in the same vertical with a subject that reads "[Competitor] Lands Another Major Mortgage Player This Week"
4)In the email say "One of the wins this week was a major online mortgage lender that has been using Efficient Frontier."

This, folks, is the Perpetual Motion Machine trick, aka Leaning Forward a Bit Too Much On Your Skis. The competitor gives one big advertiser a free test, giving others the false impression that his firm is succeeding in the marketplace, which then leads to more tests.

Like the perpetual motion machine, this competitor needs:

an initial dose of kinetic energy = a free test + a Jupiter ranking
periodic infusions of kinetic energy = lies

But as with claims of perpetual motion, the proof is in the performance, and the competitor's test went horribly and the advertiser gave them the heave-ho.

As I said in a previous post, SEM competition is fierce, and I love it.

Free 411 Calls - Coming To A Phone Near You

I learned recently about 800Free411, a firm that's trying to wring 6.5B calls per year (and $5B+ in revenues) from the cold, hard cluthes of the telco's. As you can guess, they're offering free 411 calls (which normally cost $1+/each) in return for callers listening to 1-2 ads.

They get 10M+ calls/month, but I don't think it'll take too long for them to get a sizable chunk of the total 411 market; after all, who wouldn't want to cut $5-$10/month from their phone bill?

A bunch of our existing customers are already using them, and I can imagine search advertisers will find their inventory very enticing for its high level of buying intent and captive audience.

It also makes me think that the ad-supported calling model will eventually make its way in to the rest of your telephone bill. If individuals and companies had a choice between huge phone bills and smaller bills thanks to partial or total ad support, I would expect tens of millions of people to sign on, wouldn't you?

Monday, October 02, 2006

First-ever Click Fraud Shakedown?

A person who spends $200K/mo on Google, Yahoo and MSN driving mortgage and insurance leads in the UK told me today that he's enlisting a couple buddies to get $5000 back directly from one of Y!'s UK search distribution partners for impression/click fraud they committed via Y! Search on his campaign.

A high-volume PPC lead gen advertiser on the verge of shaking down a Yahoo search distribution partner in order to recover money stolen via click fraud? Maybe the search engines could incorporate that into their anti-fraud measures...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

MarketingSherpa's 2007 Search Marketing Guide - Your Personal Tenzing Norgay

There are tons and tons of useless data out there when it comes to SEM, but as far as I'm concerned there is only one SEM Bible, and that is the MarketingSherpa Search Marketing Benchmark Guide.

I just received my 2007 copy this week, and it's the best $247 I'll spend. The value of this guide, IMO, is not the commentary that the editors include alongside the data they've collected, but rather the data itself and the thoroughness with which they've assembled a good part of what's valuable into one tome.

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