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July 30, 2007

Microsoft & Digg Deal Spur Acquisition Rumors

By Li Evans

Digg Everyone's heard about Digg & MSN partnering for advertising syndication.  Over the past few days there's been a bunch of rumors running wild about an impending acquisition of Digg by Microsoft, Pete Cashmore over at Mashable thinks its bunk.  I tend to agree with him on that thought, and his thought on it creating a riot.

How ironic would it be, if Microsoft did buy Digg?  Isn't Microsoft the Evil of all Evils over at that social news site?  9 out of 10 Microsoft stories immediately get buried, unless its bad news for MS or a story about Ballmer throwing chairs.  What kind of sweet justice it would it be for marketers, should this happen?

I find this speculation interesting, as the possibility is definitely there.  Microsoft is not short on cash, and Digg did just dump Google for a 3 year deal with Microsoft's advertising network. There's definitely a little basis to the rumors and speculation going around this past week.

I especially like Evan Roberts, of MarketingShift, take on the speculation of a Digg acqusition of Microsoft:

"If MSN were to acquire Digg.com it would introduce a whole new plethora of users to Digg.com, pump much needed life into all the dead Digg sections, and continue bringing down servers worldwide (although being MSNugg doesn't have the same ring to it). I'd also assume that there would be a mini-revolt from all the Apple fanboys and Kevin Rose loving Digg purists who want the site to remain 'homegrown' but in the end we'd all win."

Really makes one stop and ponder those possibilities, doesn't it?

Simpsons' Movie a Hit - Producers Point to Viral Marketing Campaigns

By Li Evans

Simpsonsmovie If you haven't heard, over the weekend the Simpsons Movie, took in over $71 million dollars.  That makes it the 5th best opening of the year topping even the opening of the Transformers and Disney's Ratatouille movies.

What made the movie a hit?  Well I'm sure most of the popularity of the movie came from the fact that it is the longest running sitcom of all time and it has a rather large fan base.  Really who doesn't know such phrases as "doh!" and "eat my shorts!"?  However, the producers of the the movie at 20th Century Fox, also are pointing to another contributing factor.

The producers of the Simpsons Movie have said their very successful marketing campaign for the movie, comprised mostly of Viral Marketing stunts had a lot to do with the weekend success of the movie.  From changing 7-11's to Kwik-E-Marts to the extremely popular Simpsonize Me site (check out my review of Simpsonize Me), apparently these viral marketing pieces did have an affect on people to draw them in to see the movie this weekend.

Jason_bourne_google_ad Up next, movie and internet marketing wise, Bourne Ultimatum.  Marketers for this movie, did a paid marketing piece for their site within Google Adwords to promote the movie with both a paid ad aligned with a video in You Tube that all tie to a special site "The Ultimate Search for Bourne".

July 29, 2007

Athletes and Their Blogs, Websites & Reputation Management

By Li Evans

Donovan_mcnabb_blog_on_yardbarker_2 Donovan McNabb, quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, had one more word to say as he left his first pre-season press conference yesterday, that word was "Yardbarker".  It may sound a little odd, but it was Donovan's way of sending a message to the press that, if they want to find out what's going on with him on a more regular basis, they need to visit his official blog on Yardbarker.

What I found interesting about this, wasn't the fact that Donovan's got a blog, more to the point, it's where he chose to launch his official blog.  His blog is now hosted within a niche social community for rabid sports fans of all types.  Believe it or not, McNabb is a savvy guy when it comes to his image, he's got his own website with his name and more recently he's really step out from under the Eagles' PR Thumb to handle a lot of his own Public Relations with the help of a PR Specialist he hired.

Unless you're an Eagles fan, you wouldn't know the story about the blog on his site, so I'll fill you in (since I am after all an EaglesChick to) - it's run by "Mama McNabb".  During last season when McNabb's season abruptly ended with a torn ACL and Jeff Garcia stepped in and led the Eagles to the NFC East championship, a lot of controversy swirled around some of the things Mama McNabb was posting on that blog

So from reputation management I can see why Donovan McNabb took this step.  He's gone to a place where he can reach a highly targeted audience, but can speak his mind without being filtered by the Eagles' PR machine and probably little issues with Yardbarker's editorial staff. It also doesn't have the stigma of what his "mama" wrote all last season.

Greg_oden_yardbarker McNabb isn't the only athlete that Yardbarker has, they have Greg Oden, the NBA rookie from the Blazers and a few other athletes - boxers, football & basketball players alike.  I can only see this as a great relationship for both parties.  Yardbarker is an up and coming sports community and people love to hear straight from their favorite athletes, personally I can only see this list of athletes as growing for Yardbarker.

What's a little disturbing is how little most athletes monitor their reputation on the web.  In just doing a casual search for different players' websites and blogs more often than not I found a lot of sites that were "garbagetrage" and obviously not owned by the athlete.  Whoever is handling them, should contact a good Search Marketer (hey I'll even toss my hat in that ring) and get their clients on the right track.

I'm sure there's a few athletes who take their "Reputation Management" seriously, for example, take a look at Matt Leinart's site/blog - he's the Arizona Cardinal's QB.  Here's a guy who's figured it out.  Now if only Michael Vick would have taken these steps, who knows, maybe the mess he's in could have turned out a little more differently.

July 25, 2007

Social Media for the Living & the Dead

By Li Evans

Respectance_screen_shot Think that only the living can participate in Social Networks?  While technically that is true, since someone has to be alive to type at a keyboard and view a computer screen, loved ones who have passed on now have a "voice" on the internet as well.

Respectance, a San Francisco based social media start up that was was founded by Tom Wilkinson and Kazaa co-founder Richard Derks, helps people by giving them a place to remember loved ones that have passed on.  The company has just received $1.5 million in first round funding from Solid Ventures and Big Bang Ventures, according to Venture Beat.

Respectance_steve_irwin As a member of Respectance, you can contribute to "memorials" that are already existing, such as Steve Irwin, Jessica Tandy, even the most recently decease Tammy Faye Mesner-Bakker has a memorial section on the site.  Members can upload pictures, videos and their own tributes to those who have passed on.

At the moment, it doesn't cost anything to join Respectance, and as I'm going through the site, I'm not seeing any type of ad models in the main areas (tributes, adding information, etc.) or in the groups.  The only place I see where there is a monetary amount involved is where you upload videos at $1 a video. I do wonder if this is going to be enough for the site to turn a profit for its investors. 

This startup social media site will be interesting to watch grow, as currently it has no real value to advertisers.  I doubt you'll see ads from major names appearing (like Coke, Pepsi, Rackspace or United Airlines) on the site any time soon.  There's a bit of "taboo", that whole notion of respecting the deceased, that seems to really resonate here.

July 22, 2007

DC SEO's and Harry Potter Fans Invade Old Town Alexandria

By Li Evans

So this past weekend a bunch of us SEO's from the Mid-Atlantic states got together in Alexandria, VA.  We had a great time Friday night and Saturday morning / early afternoon.

My trip started with a jaw dropping surprise, in the form of a Nikon D80 (thanks Beau!) for which I would drive again through nasty nasty Philly traffic for.  I finally arrive in Alexandria around 6 p.m. and meetup with Simon and Deb.  We head to the bar and wait for Bill, Meg and Beau to show up.  Once everyone was together we headed out for dinner.  Trying to locate one restaurant on not specific directions, we ended up at an Italian place, but not before we were all nearly run over by all the Harry Potter fan in capes, glasses and hats roaming around old town.

It was an amazing site, all these "muggles" all making their way around the business district of old town Alexandria.  The kids had Marauder maps, there were trinkets for prizes and it all culminated at this bookstore on King Street.  Talk about a whole town getting in on a marketing venture - it was really neat to see this all in play.

But back to our fun.  After dinner we headed to Theisman's for desert and more drinks.  We really had a lot of great conversations from talk of Universal Search to Web Analytics, of course we all geeked out. 

Saturday Bill, Deb, Simon and I all walked down King Street to meet Dave and Jacob for lunch at Union Street Pub, where we even conned the waiter into being a temporary photographer for our group.  After that it was a walk back to the hotel where we then all parted ways.  Deb on her long ride back to Williamsburg, Simon on his metro ride home, Bill and Dave driving their perspective ways, and myself, I got to go to a Pig Roast too (and no Simon, I didn't put the apple in the pig's mouth!).

So if you'd like to see some of the fun pictures from our time there, check out either the Search Marketing Gurus photo galleries or the galleries on Flickr.

July 20, 2007

Facebook, Why Marketers Should Pay Attention To It

By Li Evans

Facebook The past week or two, Techmeme just seems to be all about Facebook.  All the other aggregators (Megite, Tailrank, Wikio) seem to have an article about Facebook popping up every 5 entries.  Alright, today it is probably just as much about Google's "poor" earnings report too, but stick with me here, I promise I have a point. :)

More than any other social network, Facebook is making strides to incorporate all sorts of data into its network.  From Twitter to Flickr, from Blog feeds to "what your listening to" feeds - every day, developers are making new widgets to interface Facebook, making it a full fledge communication portal out of your profile.  This can become a one stop shopping place for people to update their friends and family on everything that is happening within their daily lives.

Currently though, the audience of Facebook is a younger generation.  However with the openness of Facebook and free use of their API, Facebook is bound to attack a much more diverse audience over the next year.  The current audience is "ad blind", teens and college students notoriously ignore ads, however, as Facebook begins to appeal to more audiences, that's going to change.

If Facebook gets smart about its advertising offers to its advertisers, and allows them to target certain groups, either by age or interest as their audience grows, Facebook could turn into a place marketers will want to be.  Right now though, Facebook isn't quite there yet, but with more and more technology adopters like Scoble and Steve Rubel finding use for it, it will catch fire and broaden its audience.

If you aren't in Facebook, now's the time to get in there and start figuring it out.  Just take a look at all of these recent articles:

July 17, 2007

Simpsons Movie & Burger King Goes with Viral Marketing to Promote Movie

By Li Evans

Simpsonizeme Did you know the Simpsons Movie is coming out at the end of July?  Well if you didn't hear about the marketing antics happening for the movie so far (Seven 11's turning into Kwik-E Marts), look out because something Viral Markets this way.

Burger King has teamed up with the Simpsons to promote the movie with a site called Simposonize Me.  Now I did a little digging to see if Crispin Porter + Bogusky, of Subservient Chicken fame was behind this viral marketing piece, but I couldn't find any information on their site, nor BK's.  I wouldn't doubt that there is some kind of collaboration here with the movie studios and CP + B, these guys have come up with some really great work in the past couple of years.

No doubt this will catch on like wild fire, viral marketing at its finest.  You can Simpsonize yourself, add a pet, add backgrounds, email the picture to your friends, download it to your computer and even make it your screen saver.  I sat and played around on this site for well over 30 minutes, and thoroughly enjoyed the site.  It has that Simpsons humor behind it, and there's no doubt Simpsons fans will love it.

Take a look at just what I created.

notice the greyhound ;)


Now, go on, Simpsonize yourself, and share your pictures!  Feel free to link to your Simpsonized pictures in the comments below! :)

Google & Yahoo Loose Ground, Microsoft Search Gains Ground & Ask Remains Steady

By Li Evans

Both comScore and Compete have released their June numbers, and to many people's surprise Microsoft actually gained some ground in June.  Of all the search engines, Microsoft was the only one to see any gain, both Yahoo! and Google saw a drop in their market share while Ask stayed steady in both measurements.

Comscorejune    Competejune

Compete does give you a little better picture when it reports the numbers in that they give you the previous month plus they also show you the previous year's data.  comScore only give you a comparison to the previous month.  Without the third piece pf data, you might think the Microsoft might be ready to "break free" and start going on a run, however looking at Compete's data, sure it grew over last month in market share, but it's not above it's last year's June numbers.

One thing I've learned in this business is that you can present numbers like these in any way, especially with only 2 data points.  The more data points you have to present, the more sound or more speculative your conclusions become.  It would probably behoove companies like comScore and Compete to show a 3 month (1 rolling quarter) view with the previous year's data, but we'll just have keep waiting on that (i.e. don't hold your breath).

I think the most surprising thing of the data being reported isn't that Microsoft gained ground, it's that ASK remained steady in spite of Microsoft gaining.  Google and Yahoo! lost, so now one ponders about those commercials Ask is doing, could they be having some affect on their market share?

See the other discussions about the data at Techmeme.

July 13, 2007

Facebook Acquisition Rumors Again, This Time its Microsoft

By Li Evans

Valleyfreude_2 A few months ago, well its actually more than 6 now (my how time flies), the buzz about the Web 2.0 industry was how Yahoo's Terry Semmel (CEO at the time) was about to score a big coup and snag up Facebook.  Those rumors fell flat as a pancake when Facebook flatly turned Yahoo! down.

Rumor also has it that Facebook's also snubbed off Microsoft overture's as well. 

Here we are over 6 months later and now we're hearing rumors of Microsoft courting / about to buy Facebook again, honestly, I do not buy it at all.  Sure it makes sense for Microsoft, and sure Facebook's advertising isn't doing so well (from the advertisers' perspective) but there are a lot of other signs that Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg is going to do to Steve Ballmer what he did to Terry Semmel.  If he does, there's likely to be a few more chairs flying across the room.

Here's why I just don't buy into the whole acquisition thing.  Zuckerberg has notoriously snubbed all of the big guys, from the Valleyfreude (yes, that's his sister Randi Jayne) video being produced (and now gone from Randi Jayne's site) to leaving Yahoo! with egg on their faces, they are bucking the establishment.  This is why their users love Facebook - rebel against "the system", if the creator of Facebook does it, its a "cool" place to be.

Facebook wants to go the IPO route, not be acquired, they are even advertising for a stock options administrator.  Although they did reply to Webware's questions with:

"Facebook grants stock options to its full-time employees," the company rep said in an e-mail. "The company is looking to hire a few hundred people this year and we need someone dedicated to administering the grant process."

I could end up with egg on my own face by saying this, but I just don't see a Microsoft acquisition of Facebook in the cards.  I see Mark Zuckerberg making a bigger fool of Steve Ballmer than he did of Terry Semmel.

How about you?  What do you think?

July 12, 2007

Web Analytics Tip: Where Is My Organic Search Traffic Landing?

By Alex Cohen

Okay, you've listened to smart people like Li and Mike Grehan and are hacking away at your SEO.  Is it working?  Of course, answering that question is more involved, but I'm going to share a couple of quick tips about tackling that at the page level using Google Analytics (I'm not biased toward one tool or another; it's just easiest to use Li's blog as an example).  I'm going to talk about two simple reports:

  1. Top landing pages for organic search traffic
  2. Organic keywords by page

1. Top Landing Pages For Organic Search Traffic
50% of Search Marketing Guru's traffic for the past 30 days is from natural search!  So, where are all of those people going?  As always, first select the date range you want to analyze.  In the Traffic Sources category click on the Search Engines link.  Next, look under the chart for the "Show:" options that look like this:  
Click on non-paid and then select Landing Page from the Segment drop-down menu.  Bam, scroll down and you can get all sorts of metrics about popular landing pages for organic searchers.  Are these the pages you've been spending your SEO efforts on?  What happens after they click?  This just the beginning of the analysis, but it's a great place to start.

2. Organic Keywords By Page

Maybe something catches your eye in the top landing pages report or maybe you're interested to see if all of your efforts on one key page have paid off.  In steps *dramatic music* the organic keywords by page report!  Let's take Search Marketing Gurus, for example.  I've looked at Li's analytics a number of times and this post about daylight savings time and the Emerson Smartset clock always ranks highly.   So, I decided to investigate.

Annoying, you can't just click on the link to get relevant information (maybe Jeffrey Veen will note this for v3).  Instead, you'll want to click on the Content category and then Top Landing Pages.  Look at the list of top landing pages and click the one you want.  Now look for that same set of links under the big chart, like these:
Click on non-paid next to "Show:" and select Entrance Keywords from the "Analyze:" drop-down menu.  Now you can take a look at organic keywords that led people to this page.  Again, this is just the beginning of your analysis.  Enjoy!

P.S.: If you're curious, here are the top 5 keywords that led people to that page on Search Marketing Gurus.  If I were Li, I'd add an Amazon affiliate link to some clocks that she prefers :-)

  1. emerson research
  2. emerson smart set alarm clock
  3. emerson clocks
  4. emerson smartset alarm clock instructions
  5. emerson smart set 

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