When OK Is Good Enough

Last week, a new Harris Poll indicated that Americans feel that search engines are doing a good job at serving consumers. Search engines ranked second, falling just behind grocery stores. Search engines outranked hospitals, banks, electric and gas utilities and telephone companies.

What this tells me is what I’ve long suspected is true of the search engines — OK is apparently good enough.

Google Just Keeps Getting Richer — New Change to AdWords Announced

Tonight the Inside AdWords blog announced that Google is going to change the ad placement algorithm, replacing actual CPC as a factor with maximum CPC.

How does this affect advertisers? Well, by Google’s estimation, this is a GOOD thing for advertisers:

Actual CPC is determined, in part, by the bidding behavior of the advertisers below you. This means that your ad’s chance of being promoted to a top spot could be constrained by a factor you cannot influence. By considering your ad’s maximum CPC, a value you set, you will have more control over achieving top ad placement.

In addition to increasing control for advertisers, the improved formula increases the quality of our top ads for users. This is due to more high quality ads becoming eligible for top placement, thereby allowing our system to choose from a larger pool of high quality ads to show our users.

What the iCrossing Acquisition of Proxicom Says About the State of the SEM Industry

Today iCrossing, possibly the largest SEM firm, announced its acquisition of web development firm Proxicom. The acquisition came on the heels of an announcement last week by iCrossing that it had received $62 million in funding from Goldman Sachs and three venture capital firms. This acquisition is just the latest in a string of purchases by iCrossing this year and last, including: ewGate Internet, a paid-search firm in San Francisco; Spannerworks, a search and social-media agency in the United Kingdom; and Sharp Analytics, a marketing technology firm in Salt Lake City.

iCrossing’s acquisition of Proxicom is a watershed moment in the SEM industry. To date, most SEM firms have been acquired by marketing services or web agencies, but this is the first case where a major SEM firm acquired a major web development firm. Why is that important?

Google AdWords Using Non-Selected (and often Non-Targeted) Keywords?

Today we were doing some experimentation at my firm, and we came across something very bizarre with Google AdWords. We were trying out Google’s new search query reports, which allow you to see the actual search queries searchers used to find your ad. This differs from the keyword reports in Google AdWords in that these reports show the actual queries versus the keywords that you establish in your ad groups.

Why is that helpful? From our perspective, we thought they might provide some interesting data and insight into additional negative keywords we might want to troubleshoot for. Indeed the report did just that. In fact, the report yielded many new negative keywords for us to consider that were not highlighted by Google’s negative keywords tool.

Reputation Management vs. Search Engine Sabotage

An article in yesterday’s Washington Post follows the online reputation misfortunes of Sue Scheff, a consultant to parents of troubled teenagers. Scheff found that Google searches on her name produced many negative results from a disgruntled customer, and she didn’t know how to fight back. Scheff hired an online reputation management company to fix the problem.

Online reputation management has been around for some time. And with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies and social media, the opportunity for feedback itself outranking a website is greater than ever. Companies, and even individuals, are finding it more important than ever to outrank (or even push out for that matter) the negative results about them in the search rankings.

The Day the Music Died (Online)

Today across the Internet, many net radio sites are participating in a day of silence to protest an impending rate hike of royalties fees that goes into effect on July 15. The rate increase, according to SaveNetRadio.org, is retroactive to January 1, 2006, meaning net radio stations will immediately owe over 18 months of back royalty fees.

The Copyright Royalty Board was created in 2005 to establish royalty rates for broadcast material. Congress directly controls the board.

On March 2, 2007, the Copyright Royalty Board, the organization that oversees royalty fees paid by Internet radio sites, decided to increase royalty rates by 300-1200%. According to the SaveNetRadio.org website, Internet radio royalty fees are already more than double the royalty fees paid by satellite radio providers. Doesn’t seem quite right.

Rumor Mill: Yahoo/Ebay Merger?

This morning I read an interesting theory by Tim Poulus at Seeking Alpha: Yahoo/eBay Merger Case Strengthened By Semel Departure. Hmm… very interesting. How would merging help both Yahoo and Ebay?

I think one of the most obvious benefits to Yahoo would be an immediate acquisition of an online payment tool — PayPal. Just this week, Ryan Douglas pointed out on a Marketing Pilgrim post that Internet Retailer is reporting that adoption rates of Google Checkout amongst the top 500 retailers than PayPal. But Yahoo doesn’t even have a proverbial dog in the online payment fight yet. Could a merger between Yahoo and Ebay further empower the PayPal tool — linking it up with Yahoo Search Marketing ads similar to how Google Checkout is linked to Google AdWords?