Monthly Archives: August 2010

Windows Live “Mesh” Branding Foolishness

In breaking news, Windows Live Sync is now becoming Windows Live Mesh. Crystal clear, right? Well, the truth is, Windows is actually providing a really cool service here – allowing people to sync files betweens PCs and the cloud.

But, calling this revolutionary feature “Windows Live Mesh”? If that’s not a result of a name-by-committee, I shudder to think of what that result could have been.

Yes, Microsoft felt a need to distinguish this new Mesh offering from their Live Sync service. But, from a user standpoint, “Sync” is intuitive. “Mesh” is a sieve, or inappropriate clothing.

And this is the branding mistake that’s getting a lot of news play right now. But honestly, I question another one. Windows Live in general. “Live”? Why add words? Why make things more confusing than they have to be? Who uses this vernacular in passing?

In fact, for the first time this week, someone told me to “Bing” something. And I looked at him with sheer incredulity, even though I’ve been telling people to “Google” things for years now.

Microsoft is just always behind the times in terms of branding. Figure out what the user is going to call it, and just call it that. FYI, they’re probably going to keep calling it Sync, Microsoft.

Zecco Finds Success With Twitter’s Promoted Tweets

Becoming revenue positive has always been tops on Twitter’s to-do list. In fact, this has been the problem for most Internet viral successes – figuring out how to monetize something that people value so much precisely because it’s free.

You may have recently noticed Twitter’s Promoted Tweets. This feature is still in beta and limited to a set of partners, including the online trading service, Zecco. These promoted tweets show up at the top of targeted user’s tweet streams and are specially highlighted. This could explain the average of 50% increase in engagement Zecco has announced they’ve achieved through Twitter’s Promoted Tweets.

But, the question is, once rolled out for all advertisers to utilize, will the ROI be worth it?

Yahoo Still Wants to be a Search Engine

Soon, Yahoo’s search engine results will have a “Powered by Bing.” tagline. But, the company wants to make it clear that Yahoo is still very much a player in the search race.

Shashi Seth, Yahoo’s Senior Vice President of Search Products, recently defended Yahoo by comparing themselves to outsourcing manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus. Claiming that outsourcing certain technology and manufacturing roles doesn’t make them any less a provider. It was a weird metaphor. And there were probably better ones to choose from.

The truth is, Yahoo is probably on defense mode in terms of its investors. Yahoo wants to assure stakeholders that they’re still a search engine player. To not just move your money to Bing because that’s where the innovations are going to come from. And it’s partly true. Yahoo hasn’t stopped. Yahoo! Search still supplements Microsoft’s Web index with their own proprietary content, content from their third-party relationships and content from social networks.

The technology, science, scale and infrastructure is all there. So perhaps comparing themselves to Boeing wasn’t the best metaphor. It just makes me think less of Boeing.

Google Rolls Out “Analyze Competition” Feature

Why does your competition seem to be having so much online success while you’re struggling to find your bearings?

Google is now hoping to provide you with a tangible answer to that question with their new “Analyze Competition” feature found in the “Opportunities” tab inside Google AdWords.

This new feature will examine your account’s activity over a 2-week period, and list the category spaces they believe you must be fighting in based on your keywords, ad text and landing page text. For each category, you will then see a bar graph that highlights your individual performance compared to other advertisers in the category.

This will not only help you find new search terms and get rid of ones incorrectly categorized, but better understand the marketing positions your competitors are taking.

Now, this is an automated feature, so there are intelligence limitations. And if you’re serious about search engine success, you’re better off finding a search engine optimization or Google Adwords expert. But, this could be a very helpful tool for companies trying to do some initial investigation for themselves.

1,000,000 Free Calls Through Gmail in First 24 Hours

Just yesterday at Windy City Strategies, we blogged about the release of Google Voice through Gmail. In less than 24 hours from the release, more than 1,000,000 free calls had been made.

All signs point to this being a game changer. Not just a new convenience. But changing the entire telecommunications profit model. Because unlike Skype, which currently costs 2.1 cents a minute to make outgoing phone calls to non-Skype users, Google Voice through Gmail is free. You can call anyone in the world on their own phone line…free of charge.

Now, you’re probably thinking, that’s great but I don’t want to have to sit down in front of my computer every time I make a call. The thing is, you can access Gmail through your smart phone.

Imagine that every call you make from your cell phone no longer costs you a single minute of air time. Instead of traditional wireless plans, we would move to a strictly data plan environment. I love it when things get better and freer all at the same time.

Google is also planning on releasing phone booths in universities and airports that utilize the Google Voice through Gmail platform. However, if day one tells us anything, this thing is going to spread like wildfire without any advertising or PR push on their end.

Target Launches Customized Online Coupon Center

The mass retailer, Target, has introduced “MyTargetWeekly“, a new weekly online ad center that offers users customized deals on their purchases.

The concept is quite interesting.  A user can create customized deal alerts so they can automatically see which of their commonly purchased items or on sale that week. Rather than leafing through catalog coupon books trying to find individual items you might be interested in – they find you. And the custom shopping engine gets smarter as you “like” new products.

Users can also view all weekly coupons, including the Top 10 Deals of the Week, and create a customized mobile shopping list to organize your shopping either in-store or online. While useful, this new system might fall into the good, not great, category that helps improve the Target customer user experience without creating new customers.

Is Apple Introducing A La Carte Television?

Apple is looking to get into the a la carte TV business. The tech giant is reportedly in talks with all of the big television companies, including News Corp’s Fox, CBS, Walt Disney and NBC Universal, to allow users to rent TV shows through iTunes for $0.99.

Now, these rentals would not be available until 24 hours until after a show airs. So, that will be a major stop-gap between someone being able to cancel their cable bill or not. But on the plus side, these television programs would be commercial free, and the rental period would last 48 hours.

If television companies could ever agree to waive the 24-hour delay, this could become a brave new world for television viewing. Many people would cancel their cable bill overnight. Even with the delay, Apple may get a nice jump off this new feature against competitive video sites like Netflix and Amazon.com.

Make Phone Calls from Google Gmail

Google has been trying to expand into voice calling for a while now. Google Voice. Google Vido Chat. But, starting today, you can use Gmail to receive or place Google Voice calls.

Let’s say you’re out of of your cell area or you’re getting bad reception. Now you can use your computer to both make and receive calls. Simply check the box next to Google Chat in your “phone forward” list. The next time someone calls your Google Voice number, Gmail will notify you of an incoming call straight on your desktop. Either take the call through your computer mic or headphones, or listen in as the caller leaves a message, right on your computer.

Plus, make outgoing calls by clicking the “Call phone” link. Calls will be made using your Google Voice number and priced at low Google Voice rates. Whether or not Google is trying to take on Skype, or a future Facebook product with this new release, who knows?

Top 4 Ways Bing Can Play Catch-up to Google

Google is still king of search engines. But now that Microsoft Bing has moved into the coveted #2 position, what can they do to play catch up?

1) Windows Phone 7

This upcoming mobile launch, which should create a lot of near instant mainstream popularity, will make Bing the default search option for millions of phones. And this alone could help Bing’s share tremendously.

2) Partnership with Yahoo

Microsoft Bing’s search partnership with Yahoo, and the advertising transition to Microsoft AdCenter looks like its helping Bing as well.

3) Partnership with Facebook

Bing search currently serves as the power behind Facebook search tools for 500 million customers.

4) Bing on the iPhone

This is the newest strategy we’ve seen. Recently, there were 7 Bing apps included in the top 26 most frequently downloaded iPhone apps. Now, some of these were simply third-party apps that gave users access to free music, but Microsoft still likes the idea of giving Bing mindshare with iPhone customers.

It’s standard app logic that multiple apps lifts the popularity them all. So, Bing is hoping that this 3rd-party popularity helps increase their Bing search app downloads. Bing is also planning on releasing an Android app within months. And while Android’s open nature lends itself well to Bing’s strategy, its hard-wired Google default may limit Bing’s growth in this market.

The Yahoo-Bing Data Transition is Complete

The Yahoo-Bing search transition has been progressing for a while now. And at Windy City Strategies, we’ve been keeping you up to speed every step of the way. But the companies have now announced that the transition of organic search results in the U.S. and Canada from Bing to Yahoo is finished.

Web searches. Image searches. Video searches. For desktop and mobile experiences. The Yahoo-Bing search relationship is now a completely shared one. However, the companies are still working on the migration of Yahoo! Search ad results to Microsoft adCenter so search advertisers can utilize a single service to manage both their Yahoo and Bing campaigns. The companies are sticking to their original goal of having this transition complete before the busy holiday season.