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SponsoredReviews Launching Paid Blogger Review Service

360 Enterprises, Inc. – the parent of our sponsor Text Link Brokers – is getting ready to launch SponsoredReviews, a marketplace where bloggers can charge a fee for a review and advertisers can search a database of publishers.

It appears they’ve sat back and watched the reaction to both PayPerPost.com and ReviewMe.com and taken the best parts of each service. I’m particularly glad to see they’ll be selective in which bloggers can join the service and will require full disclosure.

What might help set them apart is a lower transaction fee than others and allowing bloggers to negotiate pricing with advertisers.

I’m still on the fence on whether I approve of directly buying reviews from bloggers. I’ll probably stay there for a while – after all, some could suggest that I’m covering this story because TLB is a sponsor, even though they didn’t actually pay me for this post.

Whizbang Technology Not Enough to Help Microsoft Compete with Google

The Mercury News takes an in-depth look at the lack of ROI Microsoft is getting from its investment into web technologies, especially search.

Despite introducing a bunch of new products, including a new search experience, online video and Virtual Earth, Microsoft just can’t seem to keep up with Google’s explosive growth.

The result: The number of visitors to Microsoft’s sites has not budged, while the amount of time they have spent there has dropped. Advertising sales have fallen. Meanwhile Google’s traffic and advertising have continued to surge.

I’ve long said that the race is no longer about technology, but brand perception and user experience. Google has done such a great job of capturing mind share that it will be hard for a company such as Microsoft – with their perception of being a controlling company – to ever topple them in the minds of the consumer.

Google Domain Parking Arbitrage

Richard Ball has a great write up concerning Google’s Adsense for Domains program and potential abuses. He is concerned that certain keywords being bid on through Adwords are producing garbage traffic.

A whopping 72% of clicks for a single exact match keyword originated from the searchportal.information.com domain. Investigating this domain, it turns out to be owned by a company called Oversee.net that owns DomainSponsor, a parked domain operation.

What Richard seems to miss is why the traffic is garbage. It’s because Information.com is one of the largest arbitrage 1.0 operations around. The reason it doesn’t convert is because Information.com bids on long tail search words for cheap and then send the clicks to ads targeted at the high paying general search terms. Terms which may be related, but are not actually what the user was searching for.

Maturation of Paid Search Means the End of the Free Lunch

There’s certainly been a lot of noise being generated by medium-sized companies, complaining they’re no longer getting the same ROI from paid search – especially from Google AdWords.

I’ve been taking a look at the trends and believe this is simply the continuing maturation of the paid search channel. Here’s how it’s developed thus far.

  • Stage 1 – Medium and Large companies spend huge amounts of money on banner ads. Small companies can’t compete, so they start experimenting with paid search and get great ROI with little effort.
  • Stage 2 – Medium companies start experimenting with paid search. Their campaigns are not very targeted but they’re able to get great ROI with little effort, so they start pumping in more money. Meanwhile, the small guys find that they can no longer compete for generic keywords, so start targeting the “long tail” and find there are great returns to be had from more targeted keywords.

Exclusive – Yahoo Using Dirty Tactics to Switch Google & Firefox Users?

UPDATE: Here’s the official word from Yahoo spokesperson Terrell Karlsten. They’re claiming they don’t upgrade users to IE7 and their reasons for switching your settings? Everyone else does it.

Yahoo! Messenger’s update process does not download IE7 to a user’s computer. As part of the Yahoo! Messenger update process, people have the choice to download Yahoo! Toolbar, set Yahoo.com as their homepage and set Yahoo! Search as their search engine. This is an industry-wide practice….IE7 is not bundled into the Yahoo! Messenger update process.

UPDATE 2: Jarrod’s added a comment that suggests that IE7 was not added as part of the download, as he first described to us. All other aspects described below are known to be accurate, including changing the default browser to IE, changing the default homepage to Yahoo and changing the default search engine to Yahoo. The post has been updated.

Are You Still Reading Search Engine Watch?

I’ve noticed that I’m visiting Search Engine Watch less and less these days. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re doing an admirable job in keeping it active, but since the departure of Danny, Chris and Barry, it’s just not been the same.

Without the industry contacts and scoops that Danny Sullivan brings, it looks like traffic levels have dropped off significantly. Here’s the Alexa stats for SEW versus Danny’s new home, Search Engine Land.

Does this mean SEW is doomed to fade into obscurity? Maybe not, they’ll likely just level-out at some point. The question is, how long will it take before Search Engine Land has more traffic than Search Engine Watch. My guess, is that by the end of March, we’ll see that happen.

What Google Millionaires Do In "Retirement"

The SF Chronicle profiles some of the 900+ Google employees who became instant millionaires, once Google became public.

New found financial freedom and the loss of the “I mean something here” mentality, makes it difficult for Google to retain many of it’s most experienced employees.

Financial freedom gave the former Googlers in this article wide latitude in deciding what to do with their lives. The reasons for leaving are many: Alack of new challenges, ambivalence about the company’s growth and a desire for a career change are just a few.

It’s interesting to see what’s left in life, after working for arguably the best company in the U.S.