Google Confirms Acquisition of GrandCentral

Last week we reported on TechCrunch’s post that Google had acquired voice communications company GrandCentral. Google has now confirmed that acquisition:

We’re pleased to announce that we have acquired GrandCentral Communications, a company that provides services for managing your voice communications. GrandCentral is an innovative service that lets users integrate all of their existing phone numbers and voice mailboxes into one account, which can be accessed from the web. We think GrandCentral’s technology fits well into Google’s efforts to provide services that enhance the collaborative exchange of information between our users.

The GrandCentral team share their excitement over at their company blog.

Speculation is that this might help Google assign telephone numbers to Google Talk’s voice capabilities, giving them a Skype competitor – which I’m sure eBay will just love! ;-)

Subscribe to Marketing Pilgrim to Win $300!

The message has been published and the deadline for entries has past. Stay subscribed for a new contest in September.

How would you like have a chance to win $300 by simply subscribing to our RSS feed?

Yep, the RSS subscriber contest is back for the summer and one lucky RSS reader will win $300 to spend on whatever they want! (Seeing as everyone seems to have an iPod these days, we thought we’d just give you the cold hard cash instead)

Here’s the deal. Subscribe to our RSS feed using your favorite RSS reader. Sometime before August 31st, we’ll publish a secret RSS-only message to the bottom of one blog post. It will be exactly where we list our “Pilgrim Partners” ads, so keep an eye open.

Pownce – it’s not very original but it’s going to be bigger than twitter

The invites to Kevin Rose’s latest twitter-like project, Pownce, have been like hotcakes, and after 24 hours playing with the site I’ve come to the conclusion though it might not be the most creative web2.0 app out there, but it’s got a very good chance of becoming far more successful than any of it’s more innovative predecessors.

Figurehead – as much as we may like to believe that the web has made marketing a more level playing field, you only need to look at a couple of recent launches to see the power of having a ‘web celeb’ as a figure head. Jason Calacanis at Mahalo & Guy Kawasaki at Truemors have been able to harness the cult of their personalities to attract attention and hype to their latest ventures, even if they might not deserve it. With Digg’s Kevin Rose at the helm, it’s very likely the project will be able to punch well above its weight when it comes to press and social media coverage.

Impact of Social Sites on Retail Sales Less than Thought

A new study from JupiterResearch indicates that social sites do little to influence sales but can help with branding. Specifically, social and community sites influence only about 12% of online shoppers to buy more than planned.

About 53% of online shoppers go directly to a retail website to buy while 3% go to blogs first. That means that if you want to use user generated content to sell your products, you had best find a way to incorporate it directly into your retail site.

There are two things about social sites that make them unattractive to shoppers–inefficiency and lack of fundamental information. Shoppers are simply unwilling to wade through lots of biased and incomplete data on social sites. However, 29% say that they use social sites to reaffirm decisions.

Pilgrim’s Picks for July 2

Wow, it’s July already! Here’s what’s interesting in today’s feeds…

How to Get 1,000,000 Links to Your Blog

We don’t often depart from normal marketing news coverage, but over at SEOmoz, Rand Fishkin has put together some great advice for any blogger hoping to match the 1 million backlinks they’ve built.

Although I’ve worked with Rand, it’s as an outside observer that I’ve been able to pinpoint the majority of SEOmoz’s success, and I’m glad that Rand’s covered this in his post. SEOmoz is one of the most powerful SEO communities on the web. There are few sites that have the same loyalty and numbers that SEOmoz has and it’s something they cherish and nurture with ever breath they take.

Any blogger would be wise to absorb what Rand has to say about building communities. Here’s the first of five tips he offers on the topic:

New Yahoo SmartAds Offer Behavioral Targeting

It didn’t take long for the newly organized Yahoo advertising group to launch their first major initiative. CNET has details of the launch of Yahoo SmartAds which combines demographic, geographic and behavioral targeting that allows customized “on the fly” ads.

How will it work?

…instead of just seeing a generic ad for a Toyota Prius, a woman in San Francisco who conducts research on hybrid cars on Yahoo Autos could be served an ad for a local San Francisco dealer, along with information on the types of Priuses in stock and their purchase price. The ad, which is configured on the fly, could also feature a background color targeted for women in her age range, as well as a Golden Gate Bridge logo.