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Tues News: 3/9 (Sweating the Small Stuff Edition)

Homestar, that's NOT what I meant by sweating the small stuff!
Homestar, that's NOT what I meant by sweating the small stuff!

For the companies most involved with search marketing, it’s not always about the actual dollars and cents. Sometimes, companies focus on auxiliary projects to try and better your user experience, increase your dependence on their products or improve your opinion of their brand. Don’t get me wrong, the hope is that these sorts of investments will pay off in real dollars in the long run, but if a company can do some of the small things well, the return on investment can be both well-deserved and highly profitable.

Today, we’ll take a look at three such efforts taken by search marketing leaders (Google and MSN) as well as the provider of the dominant medium for mobile ads (Apple via the iPhone). Let’s get going!

  • Google is the master at sweating the small stuff in order to get the big payoff in the end. Just think about Google Maps. Sure, there are ads on the page but if you think that those ads paid for thousands of cars taking pictures of every street in America, you’re sorely mistaken. Google builds these sorts of products to increase loyalty to the Google brand and to build a positive rapport with the user. And it works! Recently, Google shared it’s search data to show their lighter side, depicting the winners and losers of Oscar night through their stats. As it turns out, the Hurt Locker didn’t just take home the most golden baldies, they also received quite the spike of searches. Thanks for sharing, Google; this stuff always fascinates me. [Google Blog via Mashable]
  • Microsoft has been focusing on something that seems small to most of us but is really big news up in Seattle. For months, msn.com has redirected you straight to bing.com, showcasing Microsoft’s much ballyhooed “decision engine.” No longer! The redesign of msn.com is complete and you should go check it out when you get a chance. It may not look like much, but watch for customized content and other such bells and whistles. Personally, I think it looks a lot more like yahoo.com and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Bing.com seemed to make quite the effort to copy Google’s minimalist approach; I guess Microsoft wanted to give users a choice between simple search and profound portal. Well, take your pick! [paidContent.org]
  • Apple wants your iPhone to replace a lot of the various gadget in your life. Calendar? Check. Calculator? Check. Game Boy? Getting close! The list is long and only getting longer. One thing that I never expected to see was for my iPhone to replace my house keys. Yikes, Apple! I think you may be trying a little too hard to help me out. This borders on invasive. Also, I’m not sure that I want a key to my house that runs out of batteries every day, is dangerously susceptible to water damage and can be rendered useless if it falls out of my pocket. Why not just stick to the fundamentals, Apple? Black turtlenecks and brushed aluminum casing. Oh yeah, that’s your sweet spot! [Vallywag]

So, sometimes focusing on details that aren’t directly related to your core competancy are a good thing. Google is great at search marketing but it’s great to see them use their info for a fun blog article. Microsoft is great at desktop applications but it’s important that they are taking their commitment to search (both on bing.com and msn.com) seriously. Apple is great at user-friendly hardware but maybe it’s not so great that they are thinking so much about getting into your apartment! Just remember, when you’re sweating the small stuff, make sure that it’s stuff that your potential customers actually want you to sweat!

Thanks for stopping by. Read up on and keep up with the online world; keep reading Tues News! Catch ya later!

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Tues News: 10/13 (Cause for Optimism Edition)

No need for forlorn haikus; there's cause for optimism! Nice Halloween costume, though!
No need for forlorn haikus; there's cause for optimism! Nice Halloween costume, though!

This economy is just brutal, isn’t it? It seems like whenever there is a hint of good news, bad news isn’t far behind. You might hear a rumor that things are improving but usually that news is followed by “don’t get your hopes up!” talk. Times are tough but things aren’t all bad! In fact, there are plenty of good things going on in the world of search marketing and new areas of opportunity are presenting themselves every week.

Today’s edition of the Tues News celebrates some of the developments in search marketing that give us cause for optimism. So, without further ado, let’s get going:

  • If everyone is doing it, it must be a good idea, right? Okay, well, although that’s terrible logic for most things, there is often something to the idea of following trends. If search ad spend was up 10% in Q3 of 2009, that has to mean that there was a reason to spend that money, right? It’s gotta be a good sign. They even say it in the article: “That’s good news as we head into the holiday season.” You bet it is! [Search Engine Watch]
  • You know what gives me cause for optimism? Some good advice! I came across an article today with some great advice about how to best optimize your call to action buttons. Those buttons are so small, yet can be so important to the overall success of your search marketing campaign. It might surprise you! In fact, let it surprise you by reading this article, implementing a few suggestions and testing it against what you’re running now. [Smashing Magazine]
  • Just when I was beginning to lose faith in Twitter–I’ve been lax about posting and pessimistic that it was more than a fad, recently–I find out that Twitter is in talks with Google and Microsoft. What talks, you ask? Well, it’s tough to be sure but the likely topic of conversation is about a potential search deal. With Twitter offering a unique look at the pulse of society in their users’ tweets, there is endless potential for search collaboration. We’ll see how this develops but it can only be good news! [PaidContent.org]

So, although there are plenty of reasons to be down about the economy and all the other ills associated with it, remember that it’s not all bad! Heck, the next upswing might be right around the corner and it’s important to be well-positioned when that happens. Thanks for stopping by. Read up on and keep up with the online world; keep reading Tues News! Catch ya later!

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Tues News: 6/9 (Brady Bunch Edition)

If search marketing were the Brady Bunch, Google would be Marcia.
If search marketing were the Brady Bunch, Google would be Marcia.

If the three major search engines were represented by the girls from the Brady Bunch, Google would most certainly be Marcia. Always the center of attention, considered by most to be the most elegant and amazing system, Marcia and Google are cut from the same cloth. Can’t you just picture Yahoo as Jan Brady saying, “All I hear all day long at school is how great Google is at this or how wonderful Google is at that. Google, Google, Google!” It’s true that Google is the dominant player in the search game, but perhaps we should focus our attention on some of the other news in the search marketing arena for a change. Today will be a Google-free Tues News. You’re welcome, everyone-other-than-Google.

  • Bing.com, MSN’s new search project, is the hottest topic in search as it’s the first major innovation from one of the big three in quite some time. It may be the first complete overhaul of a major search system since the launch of MSN’s Live project. Well, apparently, all the hype isn’t overblown. TechCrunch reports that Bing.com is off to a terrific start according to preliminary data available to the the public. Watch out, Jan; it looks like Cindy is making a run at number two. [TechCrunch]
  • MSN is getting more compliments and attention on Bing than the new mother of a particularly cute baby. Meanwhile, poor Yahoo has been dealing with obstacle after obstacle and has made the transition for new CEO, Carol Bartz, very difficult. This is not to say that Bartz hasn’t made things more confusing for herself. To wit, Bartz has recently been declaring that Yahoo is not a search engine but “more than a search engine.” What does that mean? You’ve got me, but we’re all hoping that Yahoo doesn’t fail at going the route of “universal online portal” that led to its fall from grace at the beginning of this decade. [SearchEngineLand]
  • If Google is Marcia, Yahoo is Jan and MSN is Cindy, then what would Apple be? Maybe Alice? Apple isn’t a member of the search family, but it sure hangs around them a lot. And where would mobile search be without Apple thrusting it to the forefront of discussion? Yes, I like that. Much as Alice tidies up situations for the Brady’s, Apple makes things nice and easy for search, especially in the mobile arena. So, what’s new with Apple? Well, we all heard about the launch of the new iPhone 3GS but what may be more interesting was the absence of Steve Jobs from all the proceedings and the apparent acceptance of this by the public. After all, if Apple can eventually deliver such innovations as copy and paste (ooooh!) and MMS support (aaaah!), maybe the company will be alright without its mock turtlenecked empresario. Oh, who are we kidding? We miss you, Steve! I want an iPhone that can make me coffee and we’re still months away from that! [Valleywag]

There you have it! A Google-less edition of the Tues News with some Brady Bunch sweetener to boot. Where else are you going to find that? By the way, if you were curious, I think that Ask.com would be Cousin Oliver if it came down to it. Nobody pays attention to it and it was a poorly thought out idea from the start. Thanks for stopping by. Read up on and keep up with the online world; keep reading Tues News! Catch ya later!

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Tues News: 5/26

Will Twitter's TV show be as terrible as the King of Town's? Only time and terrible ratings will tell!
Will Twitter's TV show be as terrible as the King of Town's? Only time and terrible ratings will tell!

I hope that everyone had an outstanding Memorial Day. I, for one, went golfing with some friends and managed to hit no worse than a gentleman’s 15 on any given hole. Impressive, I know. The highlights of the day included two double bogeys that showed that my potential is very likely unlimited. You’d never know that this was my first time on a real course for the purpose of playing golf (note: I’ve walked on several golf courses for the purpose of visiting friends and elderly relatives that live adjacent to golf courses).

Yes, it was a relaxing and fun weekend for me and I’m hoping you enjoyed your weekend as well. Well, now it’s Tuesday which is, traditionally, our news day. Despite not having had yesterday to prepare, we (and by we, I mean Amanda again) were able to find three interesting articles to keep you informed.

  • The big news out of Mountain View last week was all the hoopla that Google’s new trademark bidding policy caused. Still confused? Well why not read Search Engine Land’s write up about how this new policy may affect you? [Search Engine Land]
  • Twitter has gone from mini blogging platform to major player in recent months but would Twitter ever go Hollywood? It seems that Twitter might get its own television show about the relationship between celebs, fans and the seemingly unstoppable online updating service known as Twitter. Here’s a tweet you may not see on the show but you might see in real life: “im gettin sooo sick of twitter :-P” [TechCrunch]
  • How should MSN stand up to Google? Well, if you ask Marketing Pilgrim, a good start would be to throw about $100 million at their new project, currently going by the codename “Kumo.” Allegedly, that’s the kind of money it takes nowadays to challenge the worldwide leader in search. Does MSN have the funds to do it? Probably. Will they do it? Maybe. Will it be enough? My guess is no, but you never know when you’re dealing with a company as big and important as Microsoft. [Marketing Pilgrim]

So, a bit of a potpourri this week, but fascinating stuff nonetheless. Personally, I can’t wait for the Twitter show. If it’s even half as good as I am bad at golf, then it might stand a chance. Thanks for stopping by. Read up on and keep up with the online world; keep reading Tues News! Catch ya later!

UPDATE: Wired.com addresses Kumo, a.k.a. Bing.com, and its potential effect on the search landscape in an interesting Op-Ed entitled “Search Sucks and Microsoft Is (Almost) Here to Help.” No, search doesn’t really suck, but there is certainly room for improvement and this is the focus of the conversation between Wired.com and Microsoft evangelist, Stefan Weitz. [Wired.com]

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Tues News: 4/21

No, Yahoo didn't "cheat," they actually beat Google!
No, Yahoo didn't "cheat," they actually beat Google!

It is an absolutely brilliant Tuesday here in El Segundo, California, with temperatures hovering around 78 degrees (down from the mid-90s yesterday). Such a lovely Tuesday deserves and equally lovely news-day, don’t you think? I certainly do and that’s why I’ve assembled three interesting stories from around the world wide web for you to keep you caught up on the goings on in search marketing. With the big three (Google, Yahoo and MSN) all represented, we’ve got a diverse cross section of current events. Let’s get going!

  • The most fascinating new player to the world of online advertising is Digg, the most famous social news aggregator on the net. Digg has recently broken ties with MSN and will begin to doing its own advertising in the style of Facebook. From what I’ve seen, Facebook owning its own ads has been a relative success, insofar that advertisers are pretty excited about using Facebook for due to the ability to micro-target specific niches. However, because Facebook is a site where people are trying to socialize and not purchase products, advertising there has produced–at best–mixed results. We’ll see if Digg faces similar obstacles, however, regardless of user bahavior, owning your own ads is probably a big plus, provided you don’t mess the whole thing up! I’m talking to you, MSN adCenter! MSN broke from Yahoo and hasn’t seemed to manage to catch up in terms of usability ever since.
  • Speaking of Yahoo, I read some very interesting news about the eternal bridesmaid to Google’s bride this very day! It seems that Yahoo may not be number two to Google in every arena after all. A new study shows that Yahoo is the top performer in mobile search, besting Google, MSN and a host of other legitimate competitors. This may seem dubious but when you review the methodology, you will see that this wasn’t a popularity contest, rather, a performance test. As it turns out, Yahoo is putting out a pretty good mobile product when it comes to factors such as readiness, discoverability, response time, etc. It’s good to see Google getting some serious competition from Yahoo and it’s great to see that Yahoo still has some tricks up its sleeve. Keep up the good work!
  • Do you use Google’s news feed to find out what’s going on with your favorite subjects? I know that I do, but the news feed has always had two problems: it’s a boring, ugly format and a lot of the stories it pulls are duplicates. Well, the Google News Timeline may fix one or both of those issues. If you haven’t tried it out, it’s worth a click just to see the stunning new format, with pictures and headlines arranged by date from your favorite news sources. The Timeline is still a Labs product, which means it’s probably not perfect, but if you want a peek at what the future interface of news feeds might resemble, head on over to the Google News Timeline!

So, it sounds like good news for Yahoo and Google and some sobering news for MSN. But don’t worry all you MSN fans, there may be some interesting stuff in the works for the near future. Sources say that Microsoft has trademarked the term “Sift” which is speculated to be the name of their upcoming, new-and-improved mobile search product. The more competition, the better, as it should lead to an improved product for advertisers and a better experience for users. Let’s hope the battle rages on!

Thanks for stopping by. Read up on and keep up with the online world; keep reading Tues News! Catch ya later!