Merkle Taps Alterian for Email and Online Marketing

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Alterian is a provider of software for analytics and lead integrated marketing.  According to their press release, the goal of their software platform is to make it cost effective for marketers to gain insight into their data and use this to drive an integrated marketing strategy, across multiple online and offline channels, from a single set of applications and infrastructure.  A few of their clients include Accenture, Acxiom, Allant Group, Carlson Marketing Group, Experian, Epsilon, Donnelley Marketing, Harte-Hanks, Merkle, Ogilvy One and Euro RSCG Worldwide.

Experian is a big player in online marketing, so pay attention to this.

Merkle, who will be using Alterian’s software for email and their online marketing programs considers itself a data-driven marketing solution that enable large national organizations to maximize the results from their marketing investment.  Basically, Merkle provides customer strategy, business intelligence and analytics, data sourcing, media targeting and measurement, and marketing technology solutions to medium to large size corporations.

Alterian (LSE:ALN), the leading global provider of Analytics Led Integrated Marketing software, has signed a three-year licensing agreement with Merkle for the latest addition to its marketing suite, the Dynamic Messenger online marketing platform. Merkle is one of the nations largest database marketing agencies, and under the agreement Merkle will roll out Alterians technology to current and new clients and integrate Alterians solution with other online and offline marketing services and solutions.

Why is this important?  Let’s analyze the press release of this partnership…

Integrated marketing promises many benefits, but achieving these benefits depends on having insight into customer, transactional and marketing data to create appropriate strategies, and the ability to leverage this across multiple channels quickly., said David Eldridge, Alterians chief executive officer. Marketers are turning to service providers and technologies with the capability to provide this insight, combining online and offline data, and to take immediate action as a result. We are excited to be working with Merkle to deliver our solutions unique capabilities, which we fully expect will provide significant advantages to their clients.

The synthesis of online and offline marketing is a no-brainer, but the platforms available to large corporations interested in leveraging customer relationships across verticals and and independent channels has been slow in development and even slower in adoption.

This piece from Merkle’s homepage sums up this sentiment…

It’s no longer effective to broadcast your marketing messages to millions of anonymous people and hope for a solid return on investment. Available information about your customers and prospects has increased exponentially. And for the first time in the history of marketing, you can base your strategy on real facts.

However, as the consolidation of user generated content and social media continues to gain momentum, this synthesis will escalate rapidly and more partnerships of this type will occur and have large implications for affiliate marketing and the way the chain of ad spending which funds affiliate marketing is done.

MediaWhiz Buys Text Link Ads

mwprivlogo.gifBig week for MediaWhiz. Last night in NYC to celebrate ad:tech, MediaWhiz threw a poker tournament. Today, it was announced that they’ve acquired Text Link Ads.

Was this a good buy for MediaWhiz? Where are they looking to move with this buy?

Text Link Ads doesn’t use “no follows” for their links, which has given the platform a good deal of suspicion and has given rise to some debate about its long term health as a model.

Isn’t the link dead in terms of long term value to the market?

New Yorks’ Media Whiz advertising firm has acquired Cincinati’s Text Link Ads. The deal was announced this morning, but the financial details aren’t being disclosed.

Text Link Ads typically sells small text ads for a fixed monthly rate, not pay per click. They advertise on blogs extensively (disclosure: including this one). The company recently released a product called “Feedvertising” that allows publishers to easily place ads from Text Link Ads, ads the publisher sells themselves directly or other messages into their RSS feeds. We use this service to promote other sites in the Crunch network. I hope that this product continues to flourish post acquisition.

Techcrunch » Blog Archive » Text Link Ads Gets Bought by MediaWhiz

Turn Network – Future of CPA Networks?

turnlogo.jpgTechcrunch features the new Turn CPA network, which is launching with 18 million in venture capital. What is interesting about the new network is its approach on CPA and a growing trend “up the food chain” of utilizing CPA but doing so in a more automated fashion (think BrightRoll or RightMedia).

One thousand advertisers are said to be participating along with 30 publishers. That seems like a small number compared to traditional CPA Networks (smaller networks having in the hundreds of publishers up to the larger networks with many thousands), but the platform needs quality, not quantity, and doesn’t have time to educate or steer webmasters and mom-and-pop affiliates.

Marketing through CPA networks farther down the chain involves working with publishers and affiliates in a dynamic based on relationships. Affiliate marketing teeters on the edge of long term sustainability by a few entrenched and well deserving sites or being subsumed by the contextualization of advertising on the web, turning affiliate marketing into something like an automated widget.

This transformation is already occuring within the realized limitability of affiliate marketing to scale effectively. Hence, new platforms like Turn are looking for a work around…

Buying ads in the Turn Network doesn’t require keyword selection and management. Instead, buyers identify actions they want their audience members to take and how much they would be willing to pay per time those actions are taken. That action might be a site visit, email sign-up or completed transaction.

When visitors come to a site, data about those users, contextual analysis of the site, of the ads and of every ad permutation’s success in that and related sites are all considered in determining each ad’s probability of success. That probability of conversion is then considered relative to the price being paid on a CPA bases. The CPA bid divided by the probability of the action being takes equals an ad’s effective revenue per thousand impressions. And thus an ad is served!

What is at stake is a ten year history (and some would say promise) of performance marketing on a more individual and even democratic level. Continued automation of the space at the higher levels doesn’t bode well for the plethora of CPA networks paying for booths and parties at this year’s ad:tech NYC right now.

How will this affect CJ or Linkshare or Azoogle or AdDrive or VendareNetBlue in the near or long term future?

News of the Day: Google Print Ads in Newspapers

og010906m.gifAlong with the start of a very crowded ad:tech NYC today, the online marketing world is buzzing with news of Google’s print ads program. According to BusinessWeek, the most notable part of Google’s print program is its size and scope at launch…

Google Print Ads is notable for both the number of newspapers that have signed on, as well as the participants it’s attracting. Among the participating papers are some of the nation’s largest and most renowned: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Denver Post. More than 100 advertisers will take part as well. (The test hasn’t yet started, and Google declined to release the names of virtually all advertisers.) Tom Phillips, director of Google Print Ads, says he expects the program to be expanded to include weekly newspapers “sooner rather than later.” He says weekly magazines eventually will be involved as well.

Print publications have long been wondering about their future with the competition of online advertising showing increasingly higher returns and shares of advertising budgets. By bridging this gap, Google is issuing forth a strange extension of life for offline content publications. In one respect, the new influx of ads and interest (and relevancy) which Google brings to newspapers and eventually magazines is a blessing. At the same time, there is a fang’s edge to the print content industry in that Google is positioning itself as a metric setter, as it has done with search.

Google Print Ads differs from Google’s AdWords search-term auctions, in which advertisers bid for space adjacent to search results for selected keywords. The new program allows newspapers to set minimum prices. Another difference: In at least one early move into this arena, Google simply bought ad space from publishers and auctioned off pieces to advertisers. But with Print Ads, “rather than create some artificial scarcity by buying [ad] inventory and then auctioning it off,” says Google’s Phillips, advertisers will “bid on inventory and then allow [newspapers] to decide on whatever makes sense.”

So, there’s the crux of this whole development (which has been in small testing since late last year and was seen as inevitability). The question was not if Google was going to go print, but how, and would their move into the space create disproportionate and falsely increased ad rates as the print publishers and advertisers sought to find the market equilibrium. It seems as if Google is inverting what it does with AdWords and bidding on the space already in existence.

Weekly Insight Podcast 11/3 – 11/10

The new Weekly Insight podcast that we recorded on Friday is now up. The show is getting better and better every week, and I’d definitely suggest checking out this new episode if you haven’t done so already. We grill affiliate educators, grill Wayne on ReveNews and have a great debate on the state of affiliate marketing (you can only imagine what Jeff, Amanda and I came up with!).

Thanks to Carsten for the plug on ReveNews as well!

Weekly Insight – 11/03/06 (83 MINUTES)

This Week’s Gossip and News:

Media_httpwwwcostpernewscomwpcontentuploads200611ipodwithbuttons16thumbnailgif_eosfnwpgcxpqixh

– MonkeyPhonecall to Scoble
– Affiliates: To Educate Them or Not?
– A Critical Look at Revenews, Gurus, Conferences
– Is Our Industry Looking Backward?
– Deep Thoughts: Search, Memetics & Affiliates

Listen to Weekly Insight Now in mp3

Subscribe to the Weekly Insight Feed

Weekly Insight Podcast 11/3 – 11/10

The new Weekly Insight podcast that we recorded on Friday is now up. The show is getting better and better every week, and I’d definitely suggest checking out this new episode if you haven’t done so already. We grill affiliate educators, grill Wayne on ReveNews and have a great debate on the state of affiliate marketing (you can only imagine what Jeff, Amanda and I came up with!).

Thanks to Carsten for the plug on ReveNews as well!

Weekly Insight – 11/03/06 (83 MINUTES)

This Week’s Gossip and News:ipodwithbuttons_16.gif

– MonkeyPhonecall to Scoble
– Affiliates: To Educate Them or Not?
– A Critical Look at Revenews, Gurus, Conferences
– Is Our Industry Looking Backward?
– Deep Thoughts: Search, Memetics & Affiliates

Listen to Weekly Insight Now in mp3

Subscribe to the Weekly Insight Feed

Google Brooooad Search – Response from Rimm-Kaufman

George Michie, VP of Client Services at The Rimm-Kaufman Group, has sent me a detailedgeorge-135x203.jpg and illuminating response to a previous post where I questioned some of his conclusions about Google’s AdWords Broad Match. Thanks for the bak-and-forth, George! Let us know what you think of the issue in the comments.

“Brooooooad match as you ably define it is a nice crutch for advertisers who don’t want to take the time to billed a massive term list with carefully assigned landing pages and targeted copy. The bottom line is Google’s matching algorithms are the best in the world, but they’re no where near as good as those of a smart human, and imho never will be. Language is really hard.

But the proof is in the pudding. Every time we’ve pulled terms off of broad/extended match and put them on phrase or exact match, the conversion rates on those terms have improved. The tough calculus is whether that improvement gives enough ability to bid more and gain higher position and traffic, such that you get better performance and just as much volume. Often it turns into a volume versus efficiency game.

Particularly with the added complexity brought in by the local advertising network, it seems that Google’s brain center has too many ads to choose from within a retailer’s portfolio, and they aren’t making choices with the best interests of the retailer in mind. We think retailers will benefit by shrinking the choices for them until they learn to better prioritize among them.”

Wayne Porter Offers Robert Scoble a Monkey Phone Call

Here’s the plot summary: Yesterday on the Weekly Insight Podcast, there was a discussion of a Monkey Phone Call that Microsoft MVP and Google VIP Wayne Porter had sent my way. He then hatched the plan to send one to Robert Scoble because we were discussing LinkedIn and I brought up Scoble’s infamous post on his hatred of that platform. The rest follows from that. You have to read this for yourself (Ender’s Game meets On the Road).

btw, I’m building an API for WordPress that will translate Porter-ese in the future…

“Hi Scoble, hey, few of us on a podcast (not drunk although I suspect someone hit the rubber cement a bit- host)…It should be coming out soon perhaps when Tipper Gore is done labeling it. In truth, really it is that long and I advise you just to skip to the last 10 minutes where there is some real insight into AIs affecting algorithms (unlike this totally ridiculous crap on broadmatch) and save the other valuable time in your life to do anything else….or listen to the monkey phone call piece.

One guy, that Ze Frank loving- Summerian babbeling (ok listen to podcast for that) was on too- Sam Harrelson. Sam and I were wondering did you get get the monkey phone call I sent over earlier? If so- how was it? Was it performed well for the $10 bucks? (I prefer Lindex$)

Scale of of 1 to 10 with 1 being equal to having your linkedin url scrawled on a restroom wall of a Second Life Gor convention and a 10 having naked conversations hit the bestseller list and only to find you had accidentally encoded the location of the Holy Grail and even random passages of the Da Vinci Code….(btw I’ll work on a way to make LinkedIn fun for you- I did it for spam- I can do it for dry business networks.)

Thanks for the time.. if you have a moment to give us a numeral- we need a number to settle the bet (it decides the amount of times I get to punch Jeff with my MSFT MVP pin in his eye)…if you haven’t gotten the call yet (Sam Harrelson got his and it worked out pretty well, but he said it was kinda weird and I think in a fatal attraction kind of way) Please tell me so I can ensure the call was delivered. see http://www.monkeyphonecall.com

I’ll work hard on your christmas gift maybe something you can blow up in a podcast or an old Apple PC- no real difference really. Btw- if you know Rubel’s cell number please let me know (I’ll treat it respectfully- well most of the time- I swear never to put on the wall of a truckstop)- we figure the whole Edelman- Walmart thing has Rubel down a bit, like from A to B – status maybe a C…. It really isn’t him totally- I have dealt with various aspects of Edelman over the years and well…idiots pretty much.

So I think three or four monkeycalls in a row has got to make him smile or have a transient ischemiac attack…which could erase the memory….or perhaps get me sued by Edelman. Both equally entertaining given Edelman’s lawsuit would probably get kicked out when they figured out they sent in one-two year graduates to do jury manipulation lies halycon laced drinks influence…. really if you are going to do it- do it with style, nothing worse then bad WOM- it doesn’t even approach memetics.

Anyway thanks and so long for all the fish. Note- 42 is no good… need integer from 1 to 10.

Listen to Podcast in MP3

“Working on a way to create a strain of syphillis to transmit in a VRML environment”.”

BrightRoll Launches With Contextual Ads in Video

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With $1 million in funding, BrightRoll (formerly PostRoller) has launched and is seeking to carve out a niche of contextual ad serving by making use of networks of various sites. While this is not particularly a new concept (see BlipTV or Streetfire or Magnify), BrightRoll has attracted huge media players such as MetaCafe.

The main question for BrightRoll and the others in this vertical is… what about Google? We know contextual Adsense ads are coming from Google in the YouTube and Google Video platforms, and that will set an industry standard in terms of relevancy and performance metrics. Will these competitors have time to line up major players before Google formally enters the market?

BrightRoll takes 50 percent of the ad revenue, but charges less depending on volume. He’ll never compete with a Valueclick, or sell ads to CNN. However, Sacerdoti said he wants to sign up networks of sites, so that he can run a relevant advertisement across, say 25 entertainment sites. The trick is getting a large enough network to make this pay.

VentureBeat » BrightRoll serving contextual ads in video

technorati tags:contextual, google, bliptv, magnify, brightroll

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Google’s Broooader Search – Harming Advertisers and SEM PPC Economics?

alan-135x203.jpgAlan Rimm-Kaufman is a brilliant analyst (even has a PhD in Operations Research and Statistics and is a fellow Yalie… boolah boolah). However, I disagree with my fellow bulldog on some of the conclusions he makes about Google’s expanded search algo’s. I see those algo’s rapidly using the AI tech that Google has been developing for years to tack ahead and flank abusers and potential cpc issues of reporting. That AI (expanded match as Google defined it) allows for the AdSense platform to attempt to stay one click ahead of the frauders (admittedly, not always the case as Wayne Porter could certainly point out). But to dismiss the new results as mostly non-relevant ad serving based on a few observations seems premature. Google, more than ANY marketer, is concerned with relevancy, in my opinion (contextual, wiki’s, blogs, merchant process through Checkout, Docs, YouTube, possibly radio). I think Google has a good eye to the long term because of this concern on relevancy. Read Kaufman’s insightful piece and let me know what you think…

I think Google’s revenue maximizing algorithms have discovered that the combination of “extended match” and quality-score based auctions means they can pretty much serve any ad you have on any search related to your category. The result? Higher cpcs, less traffic because of the less targeted copy, and lower conversion rates because the landing pages are wrong: a perfect storm for advertisers, degraded results for users, but more short-term revenue for Google.

New Adwords Broad Match Can Harm SEM PPC Campaign Economics

technorati tags:adsense, google, search, clickfraud, ppc, seo, affiliate

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ValueClick Attracting VC Attention with High Earnings

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ValueClick continues to draw attention for its higher than expected earnings last quarter.  It’s shares have jumped more than 15% already.  When will the VC’s start coming and will a bigger fish be making a move soon?  Too early to tell, but we’ll keep our eyes open…

Not in the betting mood on the market, but I am definately adding some ValueClick to the portfolio tomorrow.

An amazing breakout to all-time highs. In reading about the business, I am amazed no one has made a play for them and emailed a smart friend just that this afternoon.

Value Click continues to benefit from a continued fragmentation of online media media consumption.

Howard Lindzon

technorati tags:valueclick, affiliate, marketing

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Marketing Sherpa Acquired by MEC Labs Group

Content king/queen/monarch MarketingSherpa has been acquired and I can’t say enough about Anne’s hard work in making this happen.  The MarketingSherpa team is a class act and has always been (and will continue to be, I’m sure) a great resource for those in online marketing or affiliate marketing.  With over 200,000 readers and 700 case studies, the Sherpa is poised to elevate itself even further…

Anyway, enough gushing. I’m happy to hear they’ve been acquired by yet another class act in MEC labs. Congrats to Anne and all my other friends at MS! Official release here.

MarketingSherpa Gets Acquired By MEC Labs Group – ReveNews – Jim Kukral, Online Revenue News & Opinions Since 1998

technorati tags:marketingsherpa

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Affiliate Marketing Mashups?

Mashups have revolutionized the social web by freeing up access to services and allowing publishers to have a stake and claim in the chain of interaction with a merchant besides just passing on eyeballs or qualified leads.  It’s inevitable that CPA affiliates begin to use mashups.  SuperAff.com has a nice post today on the subject…

The technical side to this is above my capabilities atm, but I can definitely see what an important tool this can be for Affiliate Marketers.

The Affiliate Marketing Blog

technorati tags:mashup, affiliate, marketing

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Google Goes After Affiliate Middle Section

Google continues to up the ante in the publisher/advertiser relationship, and their newest project is yet another flanking move aimed at tightening the grip on the otherwise unruly online advertising market. This transcends CPC and heads straight into the backend of the CPA crowd. The only question is, will Google continue to innovate/renovate in this space or will they buy a network? Thanks to Jeff Molander for the find…

Called the Google Website Optimizer, the new hosted service is designed to let Web site operators do A/B and multivariate testing on the pages that their sponsored listings drive traffic, to see how various headlines, ad copy, product descriptions and images lead customers to convert. Google is partnering with Web analytics consultants EpikOne and Optimost for the service, which went into a public (but invitation-only) beta test on October 18.

Google Offers Free Landing-Page Help for Small Marketers

technorati tags:google, affiliates, cpc, cpa, adsense

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Former Dir of Strategic National Accts at ValueClick Moves to Revenue Science

Gibbs brings more than seven years of online advertising experience to this role. Immediately prior to Revenue Science, Gibbs held the position of director of strategic national accounts at ValueClick Media where her responsibilities included establishing relationships with large brand and top online marketers. Previous to her position with ValueClick, she served as vice president of sales for Fastclick.com. Gibbs has also held various senior sales roles at WebSideStory, a leading web analytics company and pre-IPO ValueClick, Inc. Gibbs holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Florida State University.

Misty Gibbs Joins Revenue Science as Vice President of Sales for Behavioral Targeting Network

technorati tags:valueclick, cj, affiliates

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ValueClick Reports 14 Cents Per Share Earnings in Q3

Every week on the Weekly Insight Podcast we seem to ask each other if ValueClick is really going to sell CJ. I’m of the constant opinion that no, they will not sell CJ (really, who would sell a two letter domain name these days??). If Google is looking to buy a CPA network they would look elsewhere for a better platform in terms of long term value besides just locked-in merchants (or a better name… maybe one that rhymes with Google?). Interesting earning notes from ValueClick, nonetheless.  The earnings call can be heard here on tomorrow (Wednesday November 1).

ValueClick Inc. reports earnings for the fiscal second quarter Wednesday after the market closes. Shares of digital marketing services company ValueClick fell with the rest of the online advertising sector in September after Yahoo Inc. said a slowdown in automotive and financial services ad spending would weigh on its third-quarter results. STOCK PERFORMANCE: Shares of ValueClick rose 20 percent during the quarter, ending September at $18.34 on the Nasdaq. In the past 52 weeks, the company’s stock has traded between $13.15 and $20.98.

Earnings Preview: ValueClick: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance

technorati tags:valueclick, google, azoogle, wallstreet, commissionjunction

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Can ValidClick Neutralize Clickfraud?

No one or their sister is talking about clickfraud. Sure, AdSense might be the most incredible ad platform ever, but at what cost? What are we in the CPA Network side of things doing to combat the eventual governmental/regulatory and public scrutiny that will inevitably be a result of a glossed-over clickfraud problem in online marketing?? Wayne Porter suggests a potential network with an eye on the prize, but are they taking the right step or are they interested in hopping on the “we have a solution for clickfraud that Google isn’t acknowledging” bandwagon without really offering any solution at all? At any rate, we should all pay attention when Porter addresses the issue of networks taking on clickfraud or spybots…

Think Partnership is going to launch ‘ValidClick Advertising Network’, a click-fraud solution, a network of 1000+ sites that boast proprietary clickfraud mechanisms, at the 10th annual ad:tech New York interactive marketing conference and expo. ad:tech New York is going to be held from November 6 to November 8 at the New York Hilton. We will see them showcase Kowabunga, Secondbite and MarketSmart (competing with Google’s grand plans?).

THK- Starts to Think, Shares no longer Sink – ReveNews – Wayne Porter: Greynets, Malware, Adware & Spyware Research- E-commerce, Online Revenue News & Opinions Since 1998

technorati tags:google, clickfraud, adsense, affiliate

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Glut of Cheap Ad Space (According to Yahoo)

Is Rosenweig correct in his assumption that the market is changing back from a seller’s market to a buyer favored space? I don’t think we’ve hit that point in inventory just yet, but even in the CPA world, this market shift will definitely occur again. This would also supply more reason that Google and other large firms with a good deal of inventory are looking to the world of CPA in hopes of backing out into a favorable effective CPM.

According to Yahoo! COO Dan Rosensweig, a “glut” of cheap ad space was partly to blame for his company’s sagging third-quarter ad revenue, reports Adweek, by way of Yahoo News.
The increase in cheap ad space appears driven by the recent popularity of social networks like MySpace and YouTube. In September, MySpace drove more than 35.7 billion impressions according to Nielsen//NetRatings. Despite the boost in impressions, the metrics company reported that unique visitors to MySpace dropped 4 percent.

In the ad networks space, providers are reporting double-digit gains in ad inventory. According to comScore Media Metrix, ValueClick’s reach is up 11 percent in the past six months and BlueLithium’s 22 percent.

“This is going to change the market dynamics,” says Dan Rosensweig, Yahoo! Inc. COO.

iMedia Connection: A “Glut” of Cheap Ad Space?

technorati tags:yahoo, google, affiliate, adsense, advertising

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Impression Fraud is a Problem

Does your program rely on search for attracting new affiliates, customers or traffic (most likely, it does)?  Then you need to be aware of “impression fraud”…

What is Impression Fraud?

Does it ever end? This has been a problem since day one with Google’s yield mechanism, but luckily, when you’re bidding on 25 million keywords like we are, I DARE anyone to try and impression fraud us! 🙂

links for 2006-10-30 » Vinny Lingham’s Blog

technorati tags:clickfraud, impression, seo, search, google

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Google’s Search Problems (More on Clickfraud)

What the writer of this piece doesn’t include is the clickfraud problem. Search spamming and gaming search results are a nuisance, but not crippling. Clickfraud money goes to some very nasty places and could bring close scrutiny that would topple the house of cards…

Many of you will agree that Google’s search result relevancy is going down the drain. All search engines are now being clogged with unbelievable amount of search engine spamming, and this trend is booming like never before. Here is why I think this is happening and how search engines such as Google can solve the problem once for all.

Jozef Jarosciak – Blog » Solution for improving Google’s search result relevancy!

Google Multimedia To Be Based in Chicago?

I’ve heard from my sources that the Google Multimedia branch (video, music, audio) will be based in their new(er) Chicago offices. Here’s a listing from Craig’s List with some info on that…

Audio Account Coordinator, Google Audio – Chicago

This position is based in Chicago, IL.

The Audio Account Coordinator’s primary responsibility is to provide support and maintenance to Media Account Management team and assigned clients.

Google: Audio Account Coordinator, Google Audio – Chicago

Is AFFoogle Needed?

affoogle.gifGoogle launched Google Co-Op a short time ago, and it hasn’t taken long for some in the affiliate marketing space to create a Google powered search engine specifically tailored to the affiliate marketing world.  Specifically Affiliate Classroom has launched AFFoogle. I hope to get in touch with them sometime in the coming week to discuss numbers and what their aims are with this endeavor.  Trouble is, the affiliate marketing universe is composed of many different galaxies that are had to nail down to specific sites. The larger Google search engine does a better job of allowing interested users to find information about specific marketers, affiliates, or programs simply because Google is just so large. Limiting something as varied and wide ranging as Affiliate Marketing to a couple of hand selected sites doesn’t do the industry justice but comes across as heavy handed editor work.

What’s AdTech Without the Parties?

Ah, the annual ritual of long flights, business card updating and Plaxo checking is occuring (I hate Plaxo, by the way). That can only point to the immenent coming of AdTech NY. Some go for the networking, some for the presentations and most for the parties.
I still have never had a worthwhile business discussion at one of the parties, and I’ve surely enjoyed many of them over the last five years. However, our industry does love to party based on the numerous opportunities to do so.
What’s the payoff, though? Is sponsoring a party at a major industry event like Affiliate Summit or AdTech worthwhile for a network or firm? I’ve heard mixed reviews from various people and I’d love to see hard numbers rather than just stacks of business cards that probably won’t get beyond a SalesForce entry or cold call at the most. I’m still skeptical of booths too, but that’s a personal bias I’ll explain later.

CPA Empire gets things rolling with their party announcement at Crobar (the flash animation on this site will give you a seizure, so be careful) in NYC. By the way, you typed “their” instead of “there” in the last sentence, Missy…

“You’re Invited!

If you’re heading to ad:tech NY in two weeks you won’t want to miss out on the biggest party of the conference. Join 1,500 of your friends for the Get Real Results Party! As one of the proud sponsors of this annual event, we want to make sure that all of our Affiliates have the chance to attend.
When: Monday, November 6, 2006
Where: Crobar
Doors will open at 9:00pm
If you would like to join us, please Click Here to visit the online registration form and add your name to the guest list. All guests must register in advance, so don’t miss your chance to attend the hottest party in the city!
We will send out additional updates as the conference gets closer, but their are a limited number of tickets available so get yours now!”

Azoogle 2.0 Coming Soon

From the Azoogle Ads Newsletter…

azoogle.gif

AzoogleAds 2.0 is just around the corner, and it is stocked with the tools you need to help you optimize your campaigns and ultimately make you more money!
WATCH YOUR EMAIL – They will be transitioning in stages and the
email will alert you when it’s time for YOU to start the transition.

What does the new AzoogleAds 2.0 system offer?
Here are just a few of the upgrades:

* Improved reporting – real-time custom reporting as well as the basics you expect such as eCPC and conversion rate calculations. View traffic and conversions by the hour, by traffic type, and creative reports, among many others
* Unparalleled search functionality – search for offers by name, ID, status, traffic type, category – the list goes on
* Customized affiliate homepage – there are graphs, recommended offers, news, alerts, and common tasks at a glance on the home page
* Payment Options – you can request one of three payment options
* Affiliate Manager Communications – see who you’re working with and how you can reach them

So what’s happening next? In the next 10 days, your affiliate account will be transitioned to AzoogleAds 2.0. Once you have been transitioned, you will no longer have access to AzoogleAds 1.0. In order to enjoy the benefits of the new AzoogleAds 2.0 system you will need to change your ad links within three months of being moved over to 2.0. Your affiliate manager can answer any questions you might have on swapping out your ad links.

From the Azoogleads Newsletter. Read the rest of the important transition details are at the Azoogle Forum.

Google Bombing Politics

From the just plain stupid way that politicos have been trying to game Google or Youtube, it seems that the very area that could benefit the most from the social web (POLITICS) is either too dumb, too corrupt or too oblivious to see the real opportunity.

Google Bombs are nothing new to most of us who spend a good deal of time online. They were first discussed sometime in 2001 if I remember correctly, so they’ve been a presence for five years now. We’ve seen them used in a variety of ways from humor to mean-spirited attacking.

Perhaps the best known Google Bomb of all time was the “miserable failure” meme that passed around the web a few years ago. Did you miss that one? Head over to Google and type in “miserable failure” and hit the “I’m Feeling Lucky” choice. The result is a product of a large amount of links with similiar keywords (in this case, Dubya and the term miserable failure).

Last year, Google Bombing even made it into the dictionary (for those of us silly people who still actually use non-virtual spell checkers).

However, the latest use of Google Bombing as a means to an end raises concern. Admittedly, our political process in the US is highly flawed and the fact that over 2 billion dollars have been spent on “mid-term” elections while 50 million Americans are uninsured. But, Chris Bowers, a contributer to the “liberal” blog MyDD.com has dreamed up a new scheme to target 50 Republican candidates around the country with a campaign of Google Bombs and AdSense buys.

Fifty or so other Republican candidates have also been made targets in a sophisticated “Google bombing” campaign intended to game the search engine’s ranking algorithms. By flooding the Web with references to the candidates and repeatedly cross-linking to specific articles and sites on the Web, it is possible to take advantage of Google’s formula and force those articles to the top of the list of search results.

…Each name is associated with one article. Those articles are embedded in hyperlinks that are now being distributed widely among the left-leaning blogosphere. In an entry at MyDD.com this week, Mr. Bowers said: “When you discuss any of these races in the future, please, use the same embedded hyperlink when reprinting the Republican’s name. Then, I suppose, we will see what happens.”

But then it gets a little murkier…

An accompanying part of the project is intended to buy up Google Adwords, so that searches for the candidates’ names will bring up advertisements that point to the articles as well. But Mr. Bowers said his hopes for this were fading, because he was very busy.

This really troubles me. Not only does the money part of running for political audience make the idea of doing so prohibit the best Americans from entering politics, but these sorts of algorithm gamings simply dilute the political process and what we expect from voters. I’m ashamed that Bowers is doing this in hopes of electing Democrats, because as a Democrat I feel that we have a more optimistic message grounded in transparency and real democratic principles. This sort of short sighted crap is not needed if our message resonates with voters.

Further, this sort of juvenile tactic shows a complete misunderstanding of the potential for using the web in a constructive way for a political campaign. Howard Dean and Ned Lamonte were officially ordained as “blog elected” candidates by the mostly-ignorant large media outlets, but in reality there still has not been a national candidate to make use of the real power of social memetics or web2.0’ish community. John Edwards has been paying a good deal of attention to this area (even appearing at Gnomedex and on Rocketboom), so I hope Edwards will use what he has learned in his presidential candidacy in 2008. If he does, it will be groundbreaking.

Spending billions of dollars on mudslinging and negative messages might have worked before, but that paradigm is rapidly shifting and politicians seem to be the last people to come to terms with that important point.

So, here’s my plea to politicians: Stop trying to game the system and wake up to the constructive possibilities of the web. Do blogging right, make good YouTube videos (good meaning full of heart of real creative expression), construct worthwhile social memes and you just might get elected without contributing to a system already filled with greed, ignorance, violence and stupidity.

A New Campaign Tactic: Manipulating Google Data – New York Times

How Much of a South Carolinian Are You?

Jamie M. sent me this.  As an ex-pat Southern Carolinian living in Northern Carolina now, I was surprised at the results.

Turns out I’m 100% South Carolinian.

Start with 100 and take off 5 of each question that you answer NO to. The higher the percentage the more of a South Carolinian you are!

1) Do you like sweet tea? Yep
2) Do you get dressed up to go tailgating for a football game? Yep
3a) (Girls) Do you wear you’re pearls with jeans?
3b) (guys) Do you own more than 10 hats but only wear 1? Yep
4) Have you ever gone to the Carolina cup? Yep
5) Have you even been “muddin”? Yep
6) Have you ever spent a day at “the river”? Yep
7) Do you own anything with the tree and moon on it? Yep
8) Do you love Boiled Peanuts? Yep
9) Have you ever been to some county festival (i.e. Okra strut, peach festival, water festival)? Yep
10) Have you ever been to the “market” in Charleston? Yep
11) Have you spent at least one night partying in 5 points?  Oh Have I??  Yep
12) Have you heard of Shealy’s bbq? Oh HAVE I?? Yep
13) Have you ever spent a night at Myrtle Beach? Yep
14) Do you eat grits on a regular basis? Yep
15) Have you eaten at a waffle house more than once a week?  OH HAVE I????? Yep
16) Do you still use sir/ma’am, please and thank you on a daily basis? Yep
17) Do you know at least part of “the shag”? Yep
18) Have you ridden in the back of a pickup truck? Yep
19) Do you say the word “y’all” all the time? Yep
20) Do you still have that southern charm? Yep

Some things never chage!

The Most Important Question for Google

clickfraud.jpgOn October 19, Google announced that their 3rd Quarter profit rose 92% from $381 million a year ago to $733 million. These impressive numbers might lead one to suppose that the most important question facing Google is “what’s next?”. However, that’s not the whole story. Google must deal with the one term that was not discussed during the conference call: click fraud.

The sum of these five things: users, ads, the diversity of our business, the blizzard of new product launches, and the partnership strategy which is in full force, has delivered great, great results and we’re very, very pleased with them.” Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Oct 19 2006

Google’s Q3 earnings call is filled with gems. There are many quotable excerpts that one could take to make declarations about Google’s future plans or their shifting focus from search to comprehensive advertising. In fact, David Jackson takes the transcript and makes the following point concerning the most important questions facing Google post announcement:

Think about it. Google wants there to be more web sites because more websites means more advertisers and also more sites to search. More advertisers, more websites, more searches — and Google dominates online advertising and search.

This is proof that Google is the ultimate Internet business, the ultimate long tail business. The more web sites there are, the better for Google. And Google scales with the growth of the Internet, because its customer interactions are automated.

Simple, but more important than anything else when you’re thinking about Internet stocks.”

That is simple. It’s too simple and not the most important thing about the call or Google’s surging profits or its growing hegemony in the online advertising space. Search through the transcript and try to find the term click fraud. You won’t find that term or any approximation of the potential troubles behind search marketing. There was a panel of highly respected financial institutions on the call:

Mark Mahaney – Citigroup
Robert Peck – Bear Stearns
Mary Meeker – Morgan Stanley
Anthony Noto – Goldman Sachs
Imran Khan – JP Morgan
Christa Quarles – Thomas Weisel
Jordan Rohan – RBC Capital Markets
Ben Schachter – UBS
Bill Morrison – JMP Securities
Justin Post – Merrill Lynch
Safa Rashtchy – Piper Jaffray
Doug Anmuth – Lehman Brothers
Mark Rowen – Prudential
Marianne Wolk – Susquehanna

Yet, no one asked about click fraud. Should there be concern? Yes!

Charles C. Mann made the following point about the amount of click fraud back in January and his insight is still relevant ten months later:

“The amount of click fraud is difficult to quantify; estimates of the proportion of fake clicks run from as low as 1 in 10 to as high as 1 in 2. In a widely cited recent study, MarketingExperiments.com, an online marketing research outfit, reported that “as much as 29.5 percent” of the clicks in three experimental PPC campaigns on Google were fraudulent. Whatever the exact figure, click fraud has become pervasive, and Google, Yahoo!, and the other major PPC firms have found themselves caught in a game of cat and mouse with its perpetrators. Even as the search engines shore up their defenses, click scammers are becoming more sophisticated, increasingly deploying complex software to disguise the origins of clicks. For now, the search companies and many of their clients maintain that the problem on their networks is under control. But some observers, like Holcomb, believe that click fraud is “a billion-dollar mess” that “has the potential of destroying the entire industry.”

The amount of click fraud alone should cause Google to address the issue, especially on conference calls announcing record high profits. However, they didn’t address the issue at all. A panel full of Wall Street analysts with the ability to ask questions didn’t approach the issue. And internet analysts such as Jackson aren’t coming close to the importance of the issue in their commentary on Google’s Q3. Have we forgotten about click fraud already or does no one care?

BusinessWeek’s cover story on October 2 dealt with click fraud and the dark side of internet advertising. Most signficant from that article are the following:

“The growing ranks of businesspeople worried about click fraud typically have no complaint about versions of their ads that appear on actual Google or Yahoo Web pages, often next to search results. The trouble arises when the Internet giants boost their profits by recycling ads to millions of other sites, ranging from the familiar, such as cnn.com, to dummy Web addresses like insurance1472.com, which display lists of ads and little if anything else. When somebody clicks on these recycled ads, marketers such as MostChoice get billed, sometimes even if the clicks appear to come from Mongolia. Google or Yahoo then share the revenue with a daisy chain of Web site hosts and operators. A penny or so even trickles down to the lowly clickers. That means Google and Yahoo at times passively profit from click fraud and, in theory, have an incentive to tolerate it. So do smaller search engines and marketing networks that similarly recycle ads.

Google and Yahoo say they filter out most questionable clicks and either don’t charge for them or reimburse advertisers that have been wrongly billed. Determined to prevent a backlash, the Internet ad titans say the extent of click chicanery has been exaggerated, and they stress that they combat the problem vigorously. “Google strives to detect every invalid click that passes through its system,” says Shuman Ghosemajumder, the search engine’s manager for trust and safety. “It’s absolutely in our best interest for advertisers to have confidence in this industry.

That confidence may be slipping. A BusinessWeek investigation has revealed a thriving click-fraud underground populated by swarms of small-time players, making detection difficult. “Paid to read” rings with hundreds or thousands of members each, all of them pressing PC mice over and over in living rooms and dens around the world. In some cases, “clickbot” software generates page hits automatically and anonymously. Participants from Kentucky to China speak of making from $25 to several thousand dollars a month apiece, cash they wouldn’t receive if Google and Yahoo were as successful at blocking fraud as they claim.”

Click fraud is alive and very well for those of you wondering why this may be a big deal. I’ll be blogging more this week about a recent trip down the rabbit hole with the famous (or infamous depending on your persuasion) Wayne Porter. This trip started with an AdSense scraping site making money off of high paying “mesothelioma” keywords and led to some places that caused me severe “shock and awe.” The implications are beyond what I would consider just superficial, and extend well into the very ideas and assumptions that we hold about the internet and the money trail it provides which an lead to some very unsavory places.

We’re all having the wool pulled over our eyes if we focus just on positive aspects of Google’s profit numbers. Of course they deserve laud and magnification for their hard work to increase profits 92% over the past year. However, if 10 to 25% of that money is coming from fraudulant clicks, what does that say about Google’s complete refusal to raise the issue on the conference call? What does that say about the panelist of Wall Street analysts who didn’t ask the question of click fraud?

Even more, what does that say about all of us in the online marketing industry who are commentators and who aren’t saying a thing about click fraud?