Friday, April 24, 2009

"Retention Is The New Acquisition"

Uttered by Palo Alto commercial landlord Charles Keenan recently.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Have Another Blog, on... Climate Change

[NOTE: this has nothing to do with SEM and everything to do with climate change, so if that's not your cup o' tea, skip this post.]

I have a bunch of tiny blogs, one of which is Climate Varies, dedicated to expressing to all 20 of that blog's visitors that Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth is actually the opposite, a Convenient Untruth.

Since SearchQuant gets at least double the traffic, I'm posting the below so that folks know where I stand on the topic.

[Excerpt from my Facebook wall in the last 24 hours, consisting of a back and forth I'm having with a former colleague]

Status: Chris likens the green movement to the Church's Indulgences during the Middle Ages. Keep sinning, but no Hell.

Colleague: Intriguing notion, but I can't connect the dots. Can you elaborate?

Me: Whether it's sustainability or lowering CO2 emissions, fear motivates us more so than desire to do right for right's sake. If we *were* acting on ethics/honor and not guilt, we wouldn't commit the eco sin of living the way we do in the first place. We'd choose *lifestyles* that are green rather than try to erase every material step we take.

Identical to the Catholic Church's selling of indulgences 100's of years ago. The church turned the supply of guilt (collectively perceived thanks to centuries of religious indoctrination + shorter life spans) into a source of revenue. The church knew people couldn't live up to the Christian ideal, and so it offered Get Out of Hell Free cards that people bought out of fear - not because it was right.

Same with today's environmental movement. Hypocritical eco-priests like Al Gore & Holllywood sucking on our guilty bones.

Colleague: Are all pollution credits BS, or just carbon credits?

Me: We know pollution is bad for us in the here and now, so we deal with it because it affects us. That's a social contract. Carbon credits, on the other hand (me selling you a carbon credit so you can keep operating a coal-fired choo-choo train, for example) is an Indulgence because even though I know it will have zero impact on what global warming *might* exist, I sell it to you so I can fund the growth of my cause.

Colleague: Thanks for the explanation. I understand your point now. You see carbon-trading as a useless activity that can in no way help reduce global warming. All that it reduces is guilt--or, more likely, what it does is allow a corporation to advertise that it is clean, thus creating positive PR for itself.

Do you object to the theory behind carbon trading, or do you merely think that it is poorly implemented? As I understand it, the theory is that environmental costs must be built into the marketplace and, when proper costs are assigned, the market will then self-correct. Further, as I understand it, when a corporation purchases a carbon offset, the money they spend actually goes to reduce carbon emmisions elsewhere, so that the net will be zero.

Me: Yes, and yes. I object to the theory because it assumes a) that we know what causes the planet's temperature to vary; b) that our math can accurately model climate; c) that climate variation is bad; and d) that there's anything we can & should do about it. And I object to the implementation because it gives the new fires every chance to burn and ... Read Morefocuses on the naturally dying old fires.

I also object to it because it's a fantastic racket that I unfortunately didn't think up; but I *am* thinking about building a global warming carbon offset iPhone app.

Colleague: Yes, I understand that you question the underlying assumptions behind global warming. But, suppose those assumptions were true: namely, that global warming is occurring and that's it's bad for the environment. Do you think carbon trading would be an effective way to combat it?

Me: Supposing all you ask me to suppose, I very, very much do think carbon trading would be a horrible way to combat it, for the simple reason that it would give CO2 emitters a perfect & easy way to avoid reducing CO2 while passing on the fees they pay straight to the consumer in the form of higher prices. At first glance, that's exactly what seems to ... Read Morebe happening.

A better way - and I hate even talking about this since to me the notion of climate change being caused by humans is preposterous - would be to give citizens tax *rebates* as they lower their carbon footprint. Lowered taxes as an incentive would be way more powerful an incentive to achieve the desired ends, and it would avoid the gross ineffeciencies that always result when citizens let govt manage money.

Colleague: Ah, but if you're willing to believe for a moment that humans *are* causing climate change...and you believe in supply and demand...then passing the cost of CO2 emitters to their customers is precisely the right thing to do---increased cost->decreased demand->reduced CO2

Rebates (lowered costs) are just the flip side of increased costs. All the ... Read Moresame coin, so all the same result.

The difference being---it's easy to measure the emitters and increase their cost. It's exceedingly difficult to measure those who lower footprints.

Me: *If* I'm willing to accept anthropogenic climate change, then please don't add insult to injury and make me accept that ballooning the federal govt or the UN to try and manage it top-down is the best way to mitigate it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

AdGooroo Estimates Top 25 Search Advertisers

AdGooroo regularly puts out some very unique and interesting data on the SEM space, and today's report is no different. The report has some very interesting data points on ad coverage, # of ads/page, # of advertisers and ads displayed per impression.

But what I found most interesting this time around was AdGooroo's list of who they deem to be the top 25 U.S. PPC advertisers by search engine (the estimate "is based on total number of recorded first-page ad impressions"). Advertisers in the top 25 list for Google, but not for Yahoo or MSN are: (one of G's top 3 distribution partners, so no surprise that they're doing G-sanctioned arbitrage so to speak)
Google (hmmm, does Google's marketing dept have to pay internally?, and lo & behold, Google's not on Yahoo or MSN's top 25 list) (AdSense distribution partner, a la Arbitrage, baby!)
TripAdvisor (Part of Expedia, and you'd expect T.A. to be top 25 given that the measurement is based on ad impressions; T.A. is probably living in avg ad position 5-10, below the more transactional travel sites but high enough to feed Expedia a daily diet of warm leads) - now that all the wireless companies are trying to compete with the iPhone, let the PPC marketing dollars fly. WireFly (formerly InPhonic) will do well, or die trying, as they did in 2007 when unsuccessful PPC & online marketing led to bankruptcy. I wonder what they'll do differently this time around?
Zappos - I've never bought shoes from them, but their Google Maps mashup is a must-have if you want to know just how god-awful America's taste in shoes is. [NOTE: if you want great shoes that will last 5+ years and get positive reviews from SEM & custom shoe officionado David Rodnitzky, Berluti in Paris is the place to go.]

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Is Pulling Away From Google Relationship?

I read today on SEW that will be using Anchor Intelligence's ClearMark system to detect and eliminate click fraud. Given that the overwhelming majority of Ask's paid search inventory currently goes to Google AdWords, you have to wonder why Ask would invest in Anchor Intelligence's solution if it's only going to apply to the <25% of Ask's inventory that the company sells direct to advertisers.

My guess is that this is a sign Ask is either

a) significantly increasing the percentage of inventory they sell direct; and/or
b) preparing to leave Google's distribution network altogether

I'm doubtful on (b) since the Google/Ask deal runs through the end of 2012, which leaves (a). In IAC's 2008-end 10Q, they say "For the years ended December 31, 2008, 2007 and 2006, revenue earned from this arrangement was $610.8 million, $568.1 million and $379.0 million, respectively." Looks like they've topped out in terms of how much they can make with Google, so why not slowly cut out the middleman?

Omniture Billboards: Green Hiring

For those of you who haven't visited the Salt Lake City, Utah area before, here are some of the billboards you would see if you were driving on the highway.

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