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Archive for May, 2010

Google’s Browser-Based Data Collection Opt-Out: Staying Ahead of Regulation

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Google is rolling out an opt-out browser add-on to allow any web user to block their data from being shared with websites using Google Analytics. This goes beyond the requisite privacy policies and disclosure on websites using Google tracking tools, and seems to get ahead of most possible forms of policy regulation on user privacy. In other words, Google has chosen the rights of users over the wishes of marketers. They have a long history of doing so. It’s not purely selfless: it’s also turned out to be the right stance to take on a wide variety of issues. Despite whatever controversies Google may have faced in recent years, overall their reputation has been along the lines of “pretty mature and respectful, for a company of this size”.

What? Google interested in privacy?

The casual observer might not associate Google with a forward-thinking approach to privacy, given recent controversies and given that you inherently give up a significant chunk of your personal privacy if you use many Google tools and services. That’s by dint of their overwhelming scale and scope in many walks of digital life; many of those worlds overlap and collide.

But for years, discussions of user data and opt-outs were virtually nonexistent in the traditional marketing world, and at some of Google’s competitors. That world has made rumblings of someday “pushing” the Googles and Yahoos of the world into a more marketer-friendly stance when it comes to sharing user data.

Google pushed back in many small ways. For example, using the Google AdWords Conversion Tracker used to require advertisers to display a prominent logo that led to more information about data collection. Not exactly the kind of thing you’d want prospective purchasers to pore through while perusing your landing page, but Google made advertisers do it anyway. (That got sort of relaxed later.)

By comparison with competitors and the mainstream thinking in direct marketing, in their core offering to advertisers, Google didn’t even budge, didn’t even dabble, in areas like demographic targeting. That’s begun to change, of course. But it took them a lot longer than many would have expected to loosen up on that front.

Again, I’m not saying that your privacy is safe in a Google-centric world. But Google should be rightly recognized for taking a strong position here and going beyond what might be forced on them. If you use a major browser (Chrome, IE, or Firefox, with Safari coming soon), you can simply set it so no website ever gets your session data to use with Google Analytics. That data loss is a major threat to marketers trying to attribute their spending efforts, or to otherwise make sense of user behavior.

Now Google knows that probably only 2% max of users will bother, so at this stage it’s the same as various security settings in the browsers that 90% of users don’t play with. But if that’s the case, then why don’t other analytics vendors come out with a similar plug-in? The answer seems clear: Google has made a point of always getting ahead of the curve on these issues, so they don’t run into a backlash. Other vendors have generally taken a more short-sighted (or simply unethical) view of users’ privacy rights and concerns.

Is a self-interested other shoe likely to drop? Possibly. Once the opt-out functionality is firmly in place, what’s to say that Google won’t move forward more aggressively with demographic and behavioral targeting? It’s quite possible that in taking care of users and regulatory concerns first, Google can more confidently offer more data to marketers. It will be interesting to watch.

And here I almost got through this whole post without saying “Facebook”.

Red Hot Topics at SES Toronto 2010

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

I know, I know. If you live in a warmer climate, you’ll find the “heat alert” now in effect for the City of Toronto rather quaint. Still, with temperatures hitting 30C (approaching 40 on the ol’ Humidex), Torontonians may find it irresistible to let down their hair a bit, climb a tree, fly a kite, or at least have an important-looking business meeting on a patio somewhere over what look like iced teas.

I’m here to guarantee you that things are only going to get hotter for the Search Engine Strategies Toronto 2010 conference, hitting the Hyatt Regency on King St. W., in just over two weeks. The rumors are true: SES is not just about ten blue links anymore. There are panels about social media targeting, measuring the ROI on SEO, integrating brand and search, the latest marketing and competitive intelligence toolkits, and new directions in information retrieval, to say nothing of debates about privacy, hands-on clinic sessions, and even Express Clinics out in the exhibit hall for those who are too cheap (er, I mean, too busy) to pay for a full conference pass.

It’s also going to be another great event for business networking and partying. Being that this is Canada, whenever something is supposed to be tailing off, it’s actually just fine. No recession at SES Toronto — you’ll see what I mean when you get there.

As always the agenda sports a variety of fantastic speakers; some tried and true, many fresh and new. No fluff sessions anywhere to be found. We only have two days to get it done, so when the Advisory Board plans the TO show we tend to select the strongest panels from the long list, to put on this agenda. We also make sure to break a few rules by adding completely new material (sometimes, ill-advised and controversial).

Here are some sessions you may want to pencil in for your agenda planning.

The keynote by Peter Morville. Rightly known to insiders as “The Godfather of Findability,” Morville is the author of several books including the recent ┬áSearch Patterns: Design for Discovery. Searching as ordinary people, and living in a society where we increasingly invent new ways of finding information and connections, is a never-ending process of invention and discovery. Look past “default” user interfaces and open your mind to possibility.

A Googler who is NOT Matt Cutts! Maile Ohye of Google Webmaster Central is going to bring the ruckus to her keynote talk… or if not ruckus then insight at least!

A solo presentation by Bryan Eisenberg. Everyone who attends this great solo session, “21 Secrets to Top Converting Websites,” comes away entertained in addition to wealthier. What, you don’t like money?

Managing a global SEO campaign. It’s not easy. It’s what the pundits rudely call “kicking dead whales down the beach”. Crispin Sheridan (who is on the SES Advisory Board) manages a complex global initiative for SAP and is among the talented speakers on this panel. Don’t miss it and if you’re lucky you may carry the conversation on after hours with like-minded long-suffering corporate managers.

Taking SEO In House: While my fellow, esteemed panelists talk about the best way to manage in-house search marketing campaigns, I’ll be providing data (or, if time does not permit, then my naked prejudices as an agency owner) that proves once and for all, you’d be crazy to take all this in-house!

Paid Search: Yes, Canada. It’s time to pay up. Or do a better job of your campaign when you do. Paid search isn’t sexy. We admit it. But it’s core stuff. On Day Two you have your pick of an intro panel led by the inimitable Matt van Wagner, or the Advanced Paid Search panel with yours truly Andrew Goodman, Jon Myers, and Jeff Lancaster. On top of some mind-blowing concepts about ad testing and quality score, I think I’ll pull out a couple of really practical tricks we use at Page Zero all the time… and never tell anyone about. One of them has to do with dayparting, believe it or not! The catch is you’ll need to attend SES to hear about them! :)

Facebook Feeding Frenzy: I have to admit that I’m a bit proud of this panel. It breaks all Canadian rules of politeness by creating a mashup of aggressive-minded social media marketers (how to channel-target and test Facebook ads; how to work LinkedIn, etc.) and privacy concerns… yes all in the same chaotic panel. I know it’s wrong. It’s like a car accident waiting to happen. And my pledge to you is that if insufficient fuel is thrown on the fire, I’ll be moderating this panel to add gasoline.

After all folks, all the world’s indeed a stage, and we are merely players, performers, and portrayers.

Other high-profile speakers include Shari Thurow, Mike Grehan, Mona Elesseily, Judith Lewis, Greg Jarboe, Anne Kennedy, Dennis Yu, Jason Dailey, Jeff Quipp, and Cindy Krum.

See you in Toronto!

“It’s like, half the Internet.”

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Whatever niche people are working in, defending, or touting in our industry, it’s customary to begin with a slide or a quick stat over cocktails to remind the listener of its hugeness.

A friend of mine just noted that she told people we work in search (marketing), and everyone’s eyes around the table went a bit wide, before someone tentatively noted that this was “such a fast-moving, and newly emerging, field”. (That’s when the corrective has to come into play: it was newly emerging twelve years ago. Now, it’s like, half the Internet.)

We always say that about search, and people never believe us, but we say it anyway: around half of the ad revenues online come from search. Sure, you do have to throw in a bit of non-search inventory to get to half, but it’s close enough.

But then, how can our field be so freakin’ important, when everyone else’s niche also requires you to drop everything and pay attention to it?

With all due admiration for Marty Weintraub, who is probably closer than anyone else to being accurate when he pulls this stunt (“Facebook, is like, half the Internet”), if we added up all these “half the Internets”… we’d be at about 600%.

Let’s do the math.

  • Search is half the Internet
  • 80% of clicks on search results are on the “unpaid, organic” search results. Unless it’s 90% because someone’s feeling particularly bullshitty that day.
  • However, if you live in a real world case and don’t just create free content for a living, and rather, count ecommerce or lead-related revenues and other things that matter to your business… 50-95% of search referral revenues will come from the paid search referrals.
  • Banners and display? Half the Internet.
  • Podcasting, blogging, video, etc etc etc: half the Internet, each.
  • User generated content: 168% of the Internet.
  • Facebook: half the Internet.
  • Don’t forget domains and domaining! I don’t have a stat for this.
  • Unless you know the names of every semi-funded, bootstrapped, hacker-driven web app startup and have a bust of Mike Arrington on your bookshelf, you are, like, half- if not entirely- clueless. On the flip side, if you try to name-drop referring to founders of any of these companies that you keep in touch with, expect a long speech about how the current startup founder standing in front of you needs to really just focus on their app and connecting with their users, and other industry people’s names don’t matter a bit and it’s not about who’s who and yadda yadda yadda… even though you were being ignored at first because they didn’t know your name, and you were just feigning interest in the first place.

And let’s not forget the really important stats:

  • Google is, like, half of everything.
  • It all comes down to analytics.

If I were a betting man (which I should not be, as I’m clearly poor at math), I’d take a shortcut here and tell you the answer must in reality be quite simple: Google Analytics.

You’re welcome.

P.S. It’s free.

Hotmail vs. GMail: All We Really Ever Wanted Was a Good Product

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Looking at the impending makeover of Hotmail, I have to say I’m impressed.

Recalling reasons why many of us switched to GMail (away from Yahoo Mail, natch) – it wasn’t about brand, or thinking Google was cooler. It was a great product with soft innovations that just made web-based email much easier to use. And yes, it took the other guys a long time to catch up on the storage issue, which gave Google a nice head start.

If Hotmail comes out with a completely revamped product that does most of what GMail does, and adds certain features like editing Office docs in the same environment, and shutting off ads for $20/yr., that sounds exactly like the type of product I’d use, or at least mess around with.

Will the majority of users leap at the opportunity to shut off ads for $20/year? No, only a small minority will.

Will I switch, if I do a head-to-head test and find Hotmail coming out slightly ahead of GMail? Probably not. It’s not about perception or brand — it’s because switching is inconvenient.

But in terms of slowing Hotmail’s decline in market share, and gaining new casual users, this product development is essential. It’s heartening to see Microsoft’s progress in this vertical. Hotmail is one of the most widely-used applications on the planet. Making it better matters to a lot of users.

Modified Broad Match = Old School Broad Match

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Any experienced Google AdWords advertiser knows that the broad match type has had its own special logic for several years. As the broadest of the three match types (exact, phrase, and broad), it added semantic matching into the mix several years ago. In other words, more than just showing your ad against minor variations such as common misspellings, depending on your bid, the query, and perceived user intent, synonyms might also come into the mix. If you advertised for the broad match

green tennis shoes

… and “blurgues” happened to be a synonym for tennis, your ad might show up if a user typed “scenic blurgues in loafer ca”. Loafer, CA, in this case, happens to be the name of a fictitious town in California, and in some circles (in this fictitious example), there is a secondary meaning for “blurgues” and it is not “tennis,” but rather “nudist camp”.

Because these (and less fanciful) types of matches sometimes got into the mix when experimenting with broad match, you’d need to be vigilant about such “bad matches”. It got a lot easier to be vigilant when the Search Query Report relocated from the back end Reporting tab (where you can still get it) to a handy See All Search Queries button available under the keywords tab in any ad group, campaign (or even, gotta love it Google!, account-wide in one handy list sorted in any order you like, such as by click volume). Using that tool, you exclude “bad” matches — just don’t overreact to stuff that *might* still convert (consider your account a portfolio of opportunities and remember that Google’s data might be right in terms of probabilities of conversion being reasonable on some odd seeming phrases, in combination with certain user patterns).

Old-timers, beta testers, web forum grouches, and not a few Googlers probably said 1,000 times: wouldn’t it be nice if you could just use broad match in the old way, and tennis always meant tennis? So you’d match up against “green tennis footwear california” and never, ever, ever, against a nudist colony query?

WELL NOW YOU CAN!

I feel sort of like I’m announcing “YOU CAN BUY GROCERIES WITH PAPER MONEY!” — given the retro flavor of this “announcement” — but it’s good because now advanced advertisers essentially have four (some might want to quibble and say six) match types to play with. (To get to six, add “advanced matching,” which is even more of a black box than broad match, and can be disabled at the account level, and “exclusions” or “negative matching.”)

The four are, in order of precision as neatly diagrammed in Google’s Inside AdWords post of yesterday:

  • exact match
  • phrase match
  • modified broad match [aka kickin' it old school]
  • broad match [sometimes known as "yikes match" but in reality, a useful tool for most of us]

Google actually makes that into five types in their diagram, given the flexibility of how you can use modified (old school) broad matching.

You could go with

green +tennis shoes

…to partially constrain matching to ensure that tennis always meant tennis.

Or, you could go with

+green +tennis +shoes

…to further constrain matching to ensure that green always meant green, tennis always meant tennis, and shoes always meant shoes, without stopping you from matching against a query like “green reebok tennis court shoes”.

We’ve been in the beta test for some time, and are still gathering data. I will write about the findings in an upcoming ClickZ column.

The functionality has quite a bit more applicability than you might think. Remember all those campaigns that made you crazy because of how broad matching works? Let’s say you have an idea to advertise on a certain brand term for something really broad, like:

facebook app

and it’s going haywire because weird matches like

beebo dating

orkut investigation

facebook.ar

… keep piling onto your attempted broad match, so rather than constantly negativing new weird matches that pop up, you give up.

You want to be somewhat open, in part to gather some information, but you absolutely want the associated queries to include the brand “facebook”. Easy! Now you just go with

+facebook app

and your open-ended broad matching problem is solved.

Today, the open beta is extended to *all* advertisers… in Canada and the UK. Hey, what can we say, sorry America but you’re just going to have to wait. (Must be payback for us hearing “iPad now available in Canada, finally” and “Rogers won’t offer unlimited data plan for iPad”… etc.)

‘Sharing is Not an Inherently Private Activity’. Really. Really??!

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Ever shared an ice cream cone with your dog? Or a lover? Or a phone conversation with your mother? Or a document with a business partner? In Facebook-speak, these aren’t “inherently private” activities. Facebook developers, its CEO, other users, and the planet at large, evidently, should be able to lap at your ice cream cone, etc. After all, you’re sharing.

I’m going slightly over the top to emphasize that Facebook just compounds its insensitivity by resorting to vague language and unscripted retorts intended to explain to the rest of us how it all works. Facebook execs in charge of the country would seemingly enact laws allowing you to share the contents of your home (etc.) with law enforcement, or just curious software developers or neighbors, for no probable cause of any felony being committed. After all, silly, isn’t that what you signed on for when you became part of their society?

Fortunately, outside of Facebook’s walled garden, we still have laws in place that allow some solace in a little activity called dissent. Even if most of the carping out here won’t make it into FB’s development pipeline, we’re pleased to be allowed (legally, at least) to say what we think.

Let’s preface that with a nod to practicality and taking care of oneself first. Defensive driving means don’t assume the driver to your right won’t sail through that red light. You really should assume that all emails you send could be seen by everyone. That doesn’t translate into “email is inherently sharing so is not private,” just that despite the best-laid plans and the inherently somewhat private architecture of email… shit happens, so be careful and practice safe emailing. Of course the same goes for Facebook.

But that being said, your web host has a fiduciary duty not to share your email with everyone, and analogously, Facebook shouldn’t be so cavalier about massive changes that throw users under the bus, cause them major distress, and (giggle, tee-hee) cause inane personal posts like “hangover horn” to be tweeted to the planet because that user didn’t understand how this week’s settings worked. (Yes, I know. Lots of people deliberately share their hangover information. That’s some people’s style. I really doubt that the same goes for the “hate my boss” and “hate my job” posts, however.)

The vague Facebook “executive retort” rhetoric is not up to the task. It reminds me a lot of the old, worn debates about “types of freedom,” mainly because many of our current attitudes towards rights (legal, constitutionally enshrined protections of basic liberties) evolved from what Friedrich von Hayek called “negative freedom”. That was the minimalist view of the role of government, that saw it as vitally important that we as free folks be protected against arbitrary authority, in contrast with (Friedrich charged) creeping socialist views that the government should be helping people access opportunities as well (so-called “positive freedom” that can have a sinister ring if it leads to meddling, overspending, and other things “free folks” don’t like).

As stilted as the concept of “negative freedom” is, it’s not a bad way of summing up how people in constitutional democracies feel about arbitrary authority or external interlopers (the government, other people, etc.) crossing a line where they violate one’s personal zone of freedom. Privacy in the modern digital era creates a massive new challenge that runs way ahead of current legal systems to keep up, but I’ve never subscribed to the view that “you don’t have privacy anymore, get over it.” Maybe that’s because I believe in a longer-lived principle that justice means, quite simply, keeping your contracts and bargains. User privacy arrangements may be fast-moving, but they’re like any other commitment. You can’t break a deal and sell people out. It’s Wrong.

Regarding these “types” of “freedom,” Yale professor Ian Shapiro helpfully came along (just before the Cold War and its silly rhetoric finally ended) and pointed out that the argument is sterile, because debates about freedom must refer to a composite sketch of real world “liberties” involving four key components: actions (what), agents (who, or to whom), ends (for what purpose), and legitimacy (under what social and legal and constitutional framework that makes one person’s freedom enforceable in a particular way).

Needless to say, the Facebook kids don’t care about any of that. Clearly underthinking the matter, they fail to recognize that concepts like privacy and/or sharing (to say nothing of “inherent”) can’t be tossed around in vague fashion if they’re to make any sense. What am I sharing, with whom, for what purpose, under what social, legal, and constitutional (or other relevant) framework? The truly scary thing is that Facebook believes the framework is Facebook. It is literally its own world. Outside that world, we have (irrelevant, to them) norms, laws, concerns, and social mores.

It’s truly scary. Honestly, they need an attitude adjustment. Or in similar words from Danny Sullivan: “they need to get their shit together.”

P.S.: Facebook, again: “sharing” is not “broadcast”. While it is not “inherently” private, privacy enters the equation just as sure as you hung that tie on your dorm room doorknob to keep your roommate away when you were in there, um, “sharing something privately”.

Surging Google Chrome Actually Behind Early Expectations

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

News is out that IE share continues to drop steadily in the (seemingly interminable) browser wars, while Google Chrome has undergone a market share growth spurt, jumping from 1.8% to 6.7% in the past 12 months.

Yet some would-be pundits (notably, the dart-throwers here at Traffick) initially expected Chrome to reach 15% by September 2010 (there is still a slim chance). After thinking it over, in comments I revised that to “7.5% to 15%” based on the attitude that consumers don’t like change in things like operating systems and browsers.

The discussions and debates in 2009 were very clear: early adopters were constantly blown away by Chrome’s speed and expected Google to push the other browsers. And when Google pushes (or punches) hard, like with GMail, often competitors fail to answer the bell. At the same time, consumers don’t always switch as fast as the early adopters would have them do.

This all seems to be playing out as expected, then. Early growth was very slow, and as a result, 6.7% share is behind schedule. But the recent growth has been rapid, and it doesn’t look like 15% share is going to be a problem for Chrome. It will just happen 6-12 months later than expected — sometime in 2011.

Content Network Performance: Google PR Ploy or Real?

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

It’s been quite some time since Google released a wide-ranging study on the performance of content network placements from a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) standpoint, but hat tip to Paul Bruemmer, there was a recent resurgence of discussion on the forums questioning how representative the study really was of — if not all advertisers out there — then, well, you, the only advertiser who matters to you.

As a reality check, we decided to go back and look at how our clients are faring with content in 2010 (study period is January 1 – April 30, 2010). Below are some notes from content performance on about a dozen anonymized randomly-selected client AdWords accounts. I’ll note the percentage divergence from the equivalent search performance (on a CPA basis), as well as how much the resulting performance has us spending on the network and managed placements channels as a proportion of the account as a whole (the rest being search, in other words).

[Remember -- higher CPA is "worse", lower CPA is "better".]

Client A: CPA 16% higher than search. Content as a % of overall spend: 6.6%. Rating: good. Upside potential: not huge, direct response is key for this account.

Client B: CPA 21% lower than search. Content 32.4% of spend. Rating: excellent. Upside potential: considerable. Quality of customers acquired through content slightly worse, but only slightly.

Client C: CPA 27.8% lower than search. Content 22.7% of spend. Rating: confused. Content generated leads are probably significantly lower quality, but not across the board. As we often find, better measurement is a prerequisite to resuming an aggressive customer acquisition stance.

Client D: CPA 8.0% higher than search. Content 21.0% of spend. Rating. Excellent! Upside potential: considerable.

Client E: CPA 138% higher than search. Content 11.0% of spend. Rating. Very Good, believe it or not. Content is still within ROAS targets, and volume is important. The reason that CPA’s are so low on search is that not much cost-effective volume upside exists above ad positions of 1.8 or so. Upside potential for content: considerable.

Client F: CPA 46.3% higher than search. Content 8.7% of spend. Rating: Fair. Upside? Maybe but it looks like the content as a proportion figure might shrink, not grow.

Client G: CPA 13.0% lower than search. Content 5.2% of spend. Rating: Very Good. Upside: Significant. Recent improvement in content performance here catches us off guard, should be refocusing on volume here.

Client H: CPA 428% higher than search, on very low volume. Content: 0.7% of spend. Rating: abysmal. Response: time to call in the big guns to understand why there are so few decent matches being found between customers and searchers for this particular client. We’ve looked into this one before and made no headway. Time to try again. At least the channel is not losing money because it is being managed very conservatively despite the high CPA’s for the small number of conversions.

Client I: Only one conversion this year from content. Rating: I’m not sure what or who I’m rating here, but overall: FAIL. Although the channel bears revisiting, it also seems to be the case that the product line is so niche and strange that you’d be better off creating new websites, to own them, and to run ads on. Which, come to think of it, is how media generally get created in the first place, isn’t it?

Client J: CPA 34.1% higher than search. Content is 18.2% of spend. Rating: Good. Notes: In this high-ticket B2B account, a previous agency had content running at 70% of total ad spend, at a miniscule CPA about 70% *lower* than search. Unfortunately that was window-dressing, as all the leads flooding in were bogus, nuisance, non-customer type leads. A complete and cautious rebuild was needed (after scrapping the old content builds) to address the business audience, and qualitative checks are needed on lead quality. This is the type of horror story that gives all of the content network, Google, and hapless agencies a bad name. As always, there is no substitute for proper measurement, and professionalism. Upside potential: painful research, but significant potential exists.

Client K: This high-ticket retailer has 500 or so sales from paid search ads, none from content. Whether that’s due to their ingrained anti-content prejudice or our lack of persuasion in revisiting the channel, this looks like a clear FAIL to me. To be fair: once burned, twice shy. Many retailers were burned 4-5 years ago before content “got better”.

Client L: CPA 61.6% higher than search.  Content 3.3% of spend. Rating: Fair to Good. In reality, with proper attribution and appropriate attention to brand lift goals, content performance here is still on a par with search, but serving different purposes for this brand retailer who pursues multiple goals with the website. Upside potential: quite large.

Three concluding notes.

  • Search benefits from certain “slam dunk” words, especially brand terms. It also benefits from prior advertising, including content targeting. The target CPA for content, in my view, should be at least 15% higher for content, if not higher than that. Only the most brutally literal performance-based approach would give search all the credit for last-click sales and leads. Depending on the advertiser, content ads come higher in the awareness and persuasion funnel. I don’t think it’s smart in most cases to just measure indirect brand lifts or to go on faith, but it could be fair to set your CPA targets much higher, and expect that a very high number of impressions does create brand lift over time. This might be especially true with large, graphical ad formats, which are a totally different animal from small text ads. And it depends on the publication or content they appear next to, and how much repetition might create brand lift and recall.
  • Certainly, you should consider the ROAS, lifetime value, or other value (like lead quality) associated with any customer or conversion. Sometimes “leads” or “acquisitions” are of lower value in different channels. The above round-up does nonetheless provide real-world, mostly performance-based, feedback on how a cross-section of real advertisers are doing in 2010, with notes to explain that these are all distinct and mostly defensible figures.
  • Probably the biggest concern about aggregate figures like Google’s (even looking at 25,000 accounts) is that they might represent a whole pile of advertisers who somehow don’t represent *you* – or for whom a conversion or transaction is a weak event poorly tied to real world revenues or company growth). I’m satisfied that Google’s content network performs well and transparently for *us* — that is, our cross-section of clients as managed by the Page Zero team, each facing unique real-world channels and goals.

There’s no doubt in my mind that, for the median account, content targeting works as billed. There’s also no doubt in my mind that the channel will continue to grow and improve, and offer real opportunities for publishers and advertisers to innovate and grow.

Goodbye Blogger, Hello WordPress

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Today marks the end of the Blogger era on Traffick.com. From almost seven years, from July 2002 to April 2010, we’ve been happy (OK, mostly happy) users of the Blogger publishing system. Despite Blogger’s idiosyncratic ways and Google’s surprisingly poor upkeep of the platform, Blogger was one of the few — if not the only — blogging platforms that allowed you to plug in a blog to an existing site, thanks to its FTP publishing feature.

If we’d had our druthers, we’d still be happy users of Blogger. Unfortunately, earlier this year, Google decided to terminate support for FTP publishing on May 1 (originally the cut-off date was March 26!). Google ultimately gave FTP users three whole months to decide whether to migrate to a Blogger custom domain, switch to another blogging platform, or to close up shop. Three months to decide and implement a potentially complicated infrastructure switch! I can only imagine the pain that larger enterprise users may have had to endure.

At Traffick, we mulled our options for weeks. Every choice was bad, but in the end, we opted for the least-bad scenario — moving to WordPress, the only option that allowed us to maintain our legacy articles and content pages while moving forward with blogging capability. An unavoidable side effect meant a switch to a subdomain for our blog posts: blog.traffick.com. The only viable way to display new posts on our home page meant that our new blog subdomain had to serve as our site’s home page URL, too. Not an ideal scenario if you’re an information architect or if you care about search engine optimization.

Please take note of our new home page URL and let us know if you notice anything out of place. As for our RSS feed, because we use Feedburner to manage the feed, the URL should remain:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/Traffickdotcom

Thanks for your time!

 


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