In Search of the Perfect Page: Google Offers Insight into SERP Testing

By Peter Young

One of the best things about Google is the simplicity of its search results pages—clean, generally uncluttered and logical. Over the last couple of years these pages have seen some significant changes as Google bring new technologies to the table, with first Blended Search and more recently SearchWiki revelutionising the way we use the search pages. 

It is therefore interesting to see some of Google’s own research into the impact of their changes on user behaviour, something I personally have only seen on studies such as those done by the likes of Enquiro.

Mobile Ads Perform Best on the iPhone

ReadWriteWeb reports that market research agency GfK released a report today that found iPhone users are more likely to recall and respond to ads than other mobile phone users. Surprising? Not really, but the report did find some very interesting statistics regarding mobile users.

  • One in ten mobile phone users in the U.S. used a location-based service such as a map, friend or restaurant finder in Q4 2008.
  • iPhone users are four times as likely to recall LBS (location-based service) ads as non-iPhone users.
  • While men and women are equally likely to recall mobile advertising, women are 85 percent more likely to respond to ads than men
  • Calling a toll free phone number published in the ads is the most common means of response; iPhone users called twice as much as non-iPhone users

News Corp Loses $6.4 Billion MySpace Revenue Flat

Newspapers and traditional media are bleeding profits and jobs. It’s one of the hardest hit sectors, so it’s not as if they couldn’t see this coming. But News Corp’s CEO Rupert Murdoch says it’s even worse than he thought. The company just announced they are writing off $8.4 billion of losses.

News Corp. is the largest media conglomerate in the world. They own MySpace, Hulu, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, Photobucket, HarperCollins, and on and on. The company doesn’t break up revenues and losses by companies but did say MySpace ad revenues haven’t grown – profits are flat. In this climate you can take that as good news.

Being the optimist that I am I have to mention some more more good news. The LA Times recently reported that their online ad revenue is now paying for their entire editorial payroll for both print and online versions.

Google Book Search Goes Mobile

For all of you lucky iPhone owners, there’s a new source to get books and magazines (like Vegetarian Times), for free on your mobile phone. Google Book Search has gone mobile.  The service is also on phones built on Google’s Android platform.

I’m the kind of person who likes to read – especially in an airport – and this gives free access to over a million books. Most of the books are in the public domain – which means published before 1923.

Amazon, maker of the Kindle also announced this week that they’re making their ebooks available on cell phones. To me, that’s even better. They have far less titles, and you’ve got to pay for them, but they’re current. Plus you get all the books are in their entirety.

3 Ways Our Government is Using Social Media

by Regis Hadiaris

In a recent Twitterview with Advertising Age‘s Pete Blackshaw, Andrew Wilson at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shared a practical view of how government is using social media.

Social Media Lessons from Andrew (AndrewPWilson on Twitter):

  1. Listen—it’s the first step in social media. HHS is trying to understand the tools, what is being said, and how they can contribute to the conversation.
  2. Develop meaningful relationships. Just like Andrew learned when working with farmers in the Peace Corps, personal connections are immensly valuable.  Technology is simply a facilitator of those connections.
  3. Follow the leaders. Andrew points out that the Centers for Disease Control and AIDS.gov are both doing tremendous work in social media.

Personally, I think it’s important to note that all of Andrew’s interactions so far have been positive.  We’ll see how the HHS team evolves and responds to adversity over time.  As most of us already know, the social web can be an amazingly helpful, and sometimes unforgiving, place.

Online Video Viewing Surges While Google Continues to Capitalize

comScore released its December online video viewing statistics yesterday. According to the report, December was record setting for the online video industry, reporting a growth of 13% over November in U.S. online video viewing. YouTube capitalized on that gain, accounting for 49% of the gain.

This increase further distances YouTube from its competitors. According to comScore this is the latest market-share breakdown of online video properties for U.S. online video viewing:

 

Other notable statistics from the report:

  • Google video sites also surpassed 100 million viewers in December. 
  • 78.5 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
  • The average online video viewer watched 309 minutes of video, or more than 5 hours.
  • The duration of the average online video was 3.2 minutes.

Microsoft Premieres Celeb Site, Wonderwall

No word yet on whether champagne supernovae were served at red carpet event.*

Microsoft’s latest last-ditch-looking effort actually looks pretty good, as BoomTown notes. Today they unveil a new celebrity site, Wonderwall, with subtle MSN branding, a cool layout and plenty of ad space.

wonderwall

The site was designed by BermanBraun Interactive. Its main showcase, shown above, is pretty cool—a side-to-side scrolling “wall” grid of celebrity photos with headlines. Mouseover the headlines and short story excerpts pop up. Click on these, and
what I can only assume is the eponymous “wonderwall” splits open to add the full story, also side-to-side scrolling, in the middle of the wall:

wonderwall-open

Below are short lists of recent headlines, features and celebrities.