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Listen-Up! Not Everyone is a Facebook Friend

200708141009Just a few days ago, I cautioned that social networking is not a popularity contest. Just because someone asks to be your “friend” doesn’t mean that you should automatically agree. Apparently we need to share that message again as a new study by IT security firm Sophos reveals 41% if Facebook users gave up full access to their personal information to a fake user.

Sophos created a fake Facebook profile, under the name ‘Freddi Staur’ (‘ID Fraudster’ with the letters rearranged), and randomly requested 200 members to be friends with ‘Freddi.’ Out of those 200, 87 accepted the friend request and 82 of those gave ‘Freddi’ access to “personal information” such as e-mail addresses, dates of birth, addresses and phone numbers, and school or work data. Presumably, the other five had restricted ‘Freddi’ to limited profile access, which many users select for bosses, parents, or people they don’t know in real life.

Yahoo’s Portals Help it Beat Google for Customer Satisfaction

It seems that Yahoo’s status as a web portal–as opposed to Google’s search only moniker–might actually help the company gain a foothold on its larger competitor.

According to the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, Yahoo’s score was higher than Google’s–growing 3.9%, while Google’s fell 3.7%.

The survey included two different categories: search engines and portals, according to CNET. That might have skewed the results in Yahoo’s favor and it also gives them hope for the future. Being labeled as a “portal” was once considered a big setback for Yahoo, but it could now be the one thing that helps it succeed. After all, have you noticed how Google continued to provide “portal” like services?

How did the other search engines fair? Microsoft’s score rose 1.4%, Ask was up 5.6%, while AOL tanked by 9.5%.

CNET Rates Search Engine on Privacy

Google got an F on privacy from Privacy International earlier this summer. Their DoubleClick deal got scrutiny from the FTC for privacy issues. But are they really doing worse than other search engines in the privacy area?

CNET interviewed search engine reps to ensure that they compared apples to apples when looking at privacy policies at search engines. It’s good to see a more objective comparison of search engines’ privacy efforts than we’ve seen recently. Their conclusion: is far ahead of the four other major engines in the privacy arena.

For the other engines, CNET offers backhanded praise for Google’s anonymization of user data, but applauded their avoidance of behavioral targeting. MSN, Yahoo and AOL all have mixed results: better anonymization than Google, but worse in using behavioral targeting.

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.

Online Ad Spending to Pass US Newspapers by 2011

There’s a new report out today that suggests online advertising spend will overtake US newspaper advertising by the year 2011, according to

The findings are from a widely-watched annual research report on the media sector by Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS).

In the 2007 study, published on Tuesday, VSS forecasts that online advertising will grow by more than 21 per cent per year to reach $62bn in 2011, making it bigger than newspaper advertising, which is expected to total $60bn in 2011.

Broadcast television and cable and satellite television combined will continue to take the biggest share of advertising dollars, and are forecast to reach $86bn in 2011.

Makes you wonder if Google’s expansion into print advertising is a smart move or not.

Whadya think?

There’s a Use for Display Ads, After All!

Who knew display ads might actually be useful? A new study from Yahoo and comScore finds that online display ads produced 11% lift in dollars spent in in-store conversions. Search ads yielded a 26% lift in dollars spent.

Most impressive, however, was the result from a combination of search and online display ads: a 83% lift in dollars spent in later in-store conversion. The combination also increased incremental in-store revenue 90% (as opposed to 43% with search-only ads and 15% with display-only).

Display ads were also found to increase page views 37%—comparable to search ads’ effect (46%). Together? 68%.

Finally, MediaPost reports:

The study also found that a joint display and search campaign was more effective at converting online researchers to in-store purchasers–as the combination pushed 43% more in-store purchases than search (26%), or display (6%) alone.

Understanding how relevance affects PPC has just published a new research brief that discusses how the relevance of the ad displayed impacts the click through rate and conversion rate.

In two case studies, Marketing Experiments showed important the ad text is to both the click through rate and conversion rate. In one study that tested ads for Encyclopedia Brittannica, ad titles that contained both “Encylopedia” and “Brittannica” converted 2.5 times better than ad titles that contained only “Brittannica. ” It is important to understand that 90% of the tested traffic saw the ads after searching for a phrase that contained both terms.

This study quantified something that any sophisticated PPC advertiser probably already knows–you should try to match your ad titles as closely as possible to the search terms that you are buying. Be as specific as you can, using brand names if possible.