Monthly Archives: July 2010

Trending: The Evolution of Web Spammers

Google Trends. Twitter Trending.

Both promise to provide you with the latest news the whole world is talking about. Here’s the problem. Fly-by-night Web con artists now get to see exactly what people are looking for in real-time. So they try to take advantage of that. Creating fake keyword-dense articles with those terms that lead unsuspecting users to malware and pure ad monetization sites with no user relevance.

It’s a remarkable misuse of search engine optimization. Half of me has to be impressed with their creativity. The better half wishes they would use their powers for good.

The question is, how does Google get past this? Besides an Orwellian limiting of what they consider to be “news” through pre-screening? Because even if Google is currently enjoying the effectual results of bonus AdSense traffic through these ill-reputed means, giving their customers a negative experience is the last thing they want to do.

Is Hot Potato Facebook’s Foursquare Killer?

We recently talked about how some version of Foursquare is going to be huge. And how whichever GPS check-in tool Facebook ends up getting behind is probably going to be the next big thing simply because of how quickly Facebook’s matchless crowd can push things mainstream.

Well, the next big thing might just be here. And it’s called Hot Potato. Just like other GPS check-in services, Hot Potato lets people announce their physical location to the world. But, Hot Potato does more than that. Users can announce anything, including what they’re listening to or what they’re reading.

Now if Facebook figures out how to bring competition to these other events, they might have a big winner on their hands. And if this Facebook buy-out of Hot Potato does go through, my money is on Hot Potato quickly overtaking current market leader, Foursquare.

Google’s Chrome Browser Domination Strategy

Google’s new Chrome browser continues to grow in popularity. And Google has announced their new strategy for achieving total browser market domination. That strategy? Releasing a new stable version of Google Chrome every 6 weeks. Google believes that by accelerating the rate at which they release new versions of their browser, they will be able to get new features in the hands of consumers faster than ever before. Plus, it puts less pressure on Google engineers to create a “reason” for a release. Instead they’re shooting for steady and stable improvement over time. Hoping that the constant press from these releases helps build the product popularity.
Currently, Google’s timeline for new releases is about 12 weeks, double their new goal time. We’ll see if they are able to keep up with their good intentions.

Kroger Launches Online Coupon “Chore” Center

Kroger has announced a new online coupon center available on its Website. Now you can log in with your Kroger account and find Kroger brand, manufacturer and web-only coupons for use in any Kroger retail grocery store. Plus, rather than having to print out these coupons, you can simply select them and they will be automatically loaded onto your Kroger Plus Card for activation during in-store checkout.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is pretty cool. But doesn’t it seem like one step short of what would be really awesome?

I mean, they’re making coupon clipping a whole lot easier. But if they’re going so far to improve the customer experience, why don’t they simply automate the whole process of manufacturer coupons? Because they clearly have the technology in place to do so. Imagine if every time you went to Kroger, they automatically applied every possible manufacturer coupon you could take advantage of. You’d love them. But with this current setup, you’re still doing the work yourself.

It’s like if Henry Ford built a car, but left out the engine and had a horse pull it instead. Perhaps Kroger simply doesn’t want to ruffle the manufacturer’s feathers. But someone’s going to beat them to the punch. And I feel like they’re missing a big first-to-market opportunity here.

Flipboard: Your Social Media Magazine for the iPad

Flipboard is a new iPad app that aims to make your customized social media news even more engaging for you. Flipboard integrates all of your social media channels, updates them in real-time and organizes them all in a very attractive and ultra-personalized digital magazine.

Flip through the magazine on your iPad and check out your friend’s latest stories, photos and update messages from those you follow. These sections can be customized by social media provider, friend lists, topics and more. Plus, it’s free.

Now, this is a really cool idea. But I wonder if it will work better for people who only check their social media sites once a day or less. After all, it’s a gorgeous “recap” of the day’s events, but doesn’t help you stay in the conversation mid-stream too well.

Microsoft Goes Protective with Windows 7 Phone

The iPhone is the coolest phone in the world. And people are still hacking it. Because they want to customize it. They want to make it theirs. And yet, Microsoft has decided to be even more protective with their new Windows 7 Phone devices.

Microsoft announced that users will be given only one default search engine: Microsoft Bing.

Microsoft claims that they simply ran into technical problems when trying to accommodate search rivals. Greg Sullivan, a senior product manager at Microsoft said, “The search engine has been heavily integrated into the OS, so it would be hard to offer an alternative.”

This is just stupid. Bing has gotten a lot better lately. But all limiting consumer choices does is make consumers resent you. Now, other search engines can still be accessed through the phone, and these individual companies can create a Windows 7 Phone app of their own. But, why make it difficult? Why not show that you’re proud of what you have, and that you believe it can hold up against the toughest of competition.

Maybe because they know it can’t?

Optimizing Tips for the New Yahoo-Bing Merger

The Yahoo-Bing Merger is upon us. So, does that mean you have to learn yet another search engine optimization strategy? Not really. The moral of this latest news is that if you’re already optimizing for Microsoft Bing, you’re ready.

And you better be. Because Yahoo has already begun testing both organic and paid search listings from Microsoft. In fact, Yahoo reports that 25% of current search traffic may already be seeing organic Microsoft results. Whereas, only 3.5% are currently seeing paid listings from Microsoft adCenter.

The Yahoo Search Marketing Team has also provided some organic SEO tips in regards to the merger as well.

  1. Compare your Yahoo! Search and Bing organic rankings for your keywords.
  2. Modify your paid search campaigns to compensate for any organic changes you anticipate.
  3. Optimize your website for Microsoft, since Bing listings will be displayed for approximately 30% of search queries post-merger.

Not extraordinarily helpful. But if you’re Bing-literate, you’re ready for the merger. If not…find a search engine expert. Full integration should be complete by August or September. And despite a lot of back-end changes, Yahoo’s user-facing interface should remain familiar.

AOL Creates a Political Advertising Hub

Earlier this year, a Supreme Court ruling lifted the restrictions corporations had in terms of political advertising spending. What does that mean for the future of political campaign funding? It’s hard to say. But AOL wants to take advantage of whatever this next evolution of political persuasion looks like, and has already jumped behind a service they think is going to start being big during these upcoming November elections.

AOL’s Advertising Politics Hub is aimed at campaigns, advocacy groups and companies looking to target audiences online. Fundraising. Building name recognition. Organizing operations. Persuading voters. And responding in real-time to negative coverage.

It’s a no-brainer to me. This seems like a great organizational tool. The only questions is whether or not a bigger name like Google steps into the race and gives AOL some competition. But as of today with this new launch, AOL looks to be the go-to-resource for political marketers hoping to reach their constituencies.

Online Users Value Their Pocketbook More Than Their Privacy

A recent KPMG survey found that U.S. consumers are becoming less concerned with breaches of online privacy when using technology.

Perhaps people are simply becoming more comfortable with technology. Or perhaps they are simply becoming more comfortable with the risks involved with it. In fact, approximately half of consumers surveyed said that they would be willing to allow their online usage and personal profile information to be tracked if this resulted in lower usage costs. And this is a real possibility in the future. Because accurate and aggregated consumer data is extraordinarily valuable for advertisers.

Consumers also seemed willing to receive personalized ads in exchange for lower usage costs. But the KPMG survey also noted that PC users are much more willing to accept ads on their PCs than their mobile devices. And as mobile device use increases, it will be interesting to see how advertising adapts to meet it.

YouTube Creates Future-Compatible Embedding Code

Flash doesn’t work on many mobile devices. And Apple has officially given up on Flash, instead pointing toward an HTML5 future. But what do we do in the meantime? YouTube has provided us with their answer in the <iframe>.

The <iframe> is YouTube’s way of letting the Web world evolve without disrupting the current world, which is largely based in Flash. With this new dual-support code, videos will automatically play in either YouTube’s Flash or HTML5 players, depending on viewing environment and user preference.

YouTube is still working on allowing advertisements to work in the HTML5 format as well as allowing embedded videos to work natively on a mobile device’s built-in player. But this may be the very thing the Web needs to seamlessly transition into a Web 3.0 world.