Sunday, March 30, 2008

S-E-O to the P-P-C

Here we are on Sunday, feelin no pain
My boys be playin soccer and bringin they game

While the family is doin what they do
I'm readin up on search and all the fly news
I come across Moserious whose raps are unique
For they teach on SEO while poppin a beat

So lest you not find what he has to say
I'm cuttin and I'm pasting him from YouTube today

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mobile Directory Services: I Crap On Thee

I called a vacation rental property owner's phone number yesterday - from my cell phone - and got voicemail. Before I could leave a message I was asked if I wanted the business' contact info SMS'd to me. I hung up at that point, but have since received the following SMS message:

"Reply Y now to get info on the # you are trying to reach. Locator Svc $9.99/month +std msg fees for 20 lookups/month. Support/Terms?"

I know this is opt-in and clearly described, but it still strikes me as one of the most underhanded money-grabs in the world of search/navigation/directory services.

A) If I don't ask for the service, don't offer it to me
B) If I *did* want the business' info, why should I have to opt in to a subscription service to get it?

If you visit the website behind this spineless jellyfish of a business practice - - you will have no luck finding any information on who runs this company. This, of course, earns the unknown proprietor of SMS181 the PooPoo Grande in abscentia, from one of my favorite sites,

Until governments force mobile operators to shun unwanted subscription-based partners, use of SMS as a search & directory service will not live up to its potential.

June 19, 2008 update: Someone from the FTC hit this post after searching " locator" on Google, so hopefully they're on it...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Search Arbitrage's Friday the 13th

At one time well north of 15% of Google's total revenues were coming from search arbitrageurs, people who were buying tons of low-CPC Google traffic and sending it to pages full [usually] of higher-CPC Yahoo ads.

Put another way, up until mid-2007, the percentage by which Google regularly trounced guidance and added tens of billions of dollars to their already-$100B+ market cap was coming mainly from a Panama Canal of sorts connecting two CPC oceans of different elevations and operated by marginally savvy but seriously greedy hombres.

Google eventually decided that *it* wanted to be the only firm printing money from search, and so on Friday April 13th Google did a huge manual crackdown on many of the largest search arbitrageurs, raising their minimum bids to unsustainable levels overnight.

One such casualty was Canadian firm Geosign, whose life-then-death story was recently chronicled by the Financial Post. It's rare search arbitrage gets covered by the mainstream press, and they did a very good job explaining the relationship between the rise of AdSense and search arbitrage. The article has one big fault, however; namely that it attributes Google's search arbitrage smack-down to G's desire to protect advertisers. My very strong opinion is that Google got rid of arbitrageurs because it realized that doing so would forcefully redirect the low-CPC clicks they were getting to higher-CPC ads.

It's ironic but fitting that Yahoo's code name for its revamped search system was 'Panama', when the real Panama Canal of Search was actually epitomized by the likes of Geosign. It's *also* ironic that the image on American Capital's PR announcing their $160M investment in Geosign is called...the Geosign Tombstone.

Facebook Kisses Google A$$, Hiring for SEM

2007: Facebook is at the forefront of user generated content, viral marketing, socially-empowered brand awareness building yet non-invasive forms of online advertising. Its model is so powerful that Microsoft saw fit to buy a chunk of it in order to lock up Facebook's supremely bodacious ad inventory, thus establishing a $15B valuation for this Palo Alto startup and inflating PA real estate almost as much as their youthful founders' egos.

2008: Facebook is hiring an Internet Marketing Associate, but don't let the vague title fool you: Facebook wants someone with paid search experience to help them draw potential advertisers to their site via, you guessed it, that soooooo Web 1.0 advertising format known as paid search.

Like so many companies purporting to have game-changing business models - comparison shopping engines, vertical portals, alternative search engines, web 2.0 startups, dating sites, you name it - the proof of who's still king is their customer acquisition strategies, which as far as I can tell require, to this day, funneling massive amounts of $$$ to Google AdWords.

Will social media conferences ever have a session titled "Paid Search: How We Make Ends Meet?", or "PPC: Buying Traffic When Times Are Tough", or perhaps "SEM, Because No One Likes Our Inventory"?

I doubt it, but Facebook realizing in 2008 that they don't have sufficient advertiser traction is the tea leaf smart social networking types would do well to consider.

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