Posted on Leave a comment

Search Engine Strategies New York City, San Francisco & Chicago 2010 Session Pitch : Home Page Title Tag – Hot or Not?

The following session was submitted to Search Engine Strategies in January, 2010.  Hope you enjoy it.

Home Page Title Tag – Hot or Not?

Moderators: David Dalka and either Mike Grehan, Greg Jarboe or Stewart Quealy

The first thing one learns about search engine optimization is about the importance of title tags, especially the home page title tag. Yet when an experienced SEO surfs the web they often must stop and scratch their head at certain home page title tags! It certainly indicates a lack of understanding by senior management teams out there.

In this session everyone is the expert! We will share 30 title tags and URLs in 30 minutes. Everyone gets to tweet their impressions of the title tag for with the Twitter hashtag #sestitle!!! Then we’ll do Q&A and figure out what it all means. The benefits of this session are certain to include venting of pent up frustration, bonding with your fellow search marketers, extreme laughter and far reaching communication of the session to people far and wide not even at the Search Engine Strategies conference! Spread the gospel. Change the world. See you there.

Posted on 4 Comments

Marketing Channel Business Strategy Reallocation Management: Where Are You?

The other day Google (GOOG) had it’s earnings call, Google stated that a primary agenda for 2010, in addition to mobile, was display advertising. Yes, you read that right, display advertising.  Display? Yahoo 2.0? After the call one had to think about how non-targeted and potentially wasteful advertising spend could potentially be harmful to corporate profitability as some people might try display that aren’t appropriate for display (and could do far better just creating quality content to be indexed in organic search). The promise of the Internet comes from the potential to change organizational structures to be closer to the customer in the way that Peter Drucker would want to increase customer utility and reduce the cost of marketing and sales. I think we have all underestimated the amount of time these changes will take and clearly question whether our society is picking the right leaders to lead these changes.

Obviously one must consider that without true reform of advertising models away from CPM driven page view models how display in 2010 can do nothing to further the goal of lowering costs of marketing and sales for companies and improving our standard of living. CPM can only maximize revenue of an ad network with some residual benefits to publishers. A few days ago I considered writing something about this, but thought this was part of something larger than just Google and their display initiatives in 2010.

Surely, less than 48 hours later, Jason Calacanis started a discussion about comScore that has the Blogoshpere abuzz. Michael Arrington also chimed in (as did a bunch of other people) in his post, Jason Calacanis Punches Comscore In The Face. Comscore Punches Back. Fred Wilson Drags Us Into It. $SCOR” rel=”bookmark” href=””>Jason Calacanis Punches Comscore In The Face. Comscore Punches Back. Fred Wilson Drags Us Into It. $SCOR.The buzz around Jason and his conversation is ultimately about symptoms of the current ecosystem, not the root causes of the future end game.  While the conversation about the current state is certainly an interesting conversation to observe, it’s not the conversation I wish to take to the next level. We need to have a different conversation. There is so much more to achieve and limited marketing resources of companies need to be put to work effectively. There are advertising models of the future to consider where offline, mobile and Internet will collide and will someday make this entire conversation look primitive.

Sure enough reading this post brought me back to the conversation about Google and the worthlessness of poorly targeted and untimely display banner ads. You see there was not one but two large banners on TechCrunch that stood out as irrelevantly served by Google. What were they? They were display banners for a company I had interviewed with to be the CMO of in Spring of 2009 that I would have likely have increased the revenue significantly by now.  Unfortunately most CEOs don’t yet fully understand the magnitude of the amount of change  that is necessary to transform a company successfully for marketing on the web while improving customer satisfaction and the corporation’s profitability. I had researched them and their competitors back then. I was never a potential customer of the service. So now, a full nine months later, here I am looking at this completely irrelevant ad on TechCrunch of all places (which is completely unrelated to the vertical). Wasteful. Pathetic. Sad. Not something a rational business leader following the rules of being a Gen X CMO where search marketing becomes the top of the strategic process.  The first decade of the Internet got us to the batters box to start the game of corporate business strategy transformation, I look forward leading that conversation into the first inning during the next few years. The magnitude of the change and the amount of transformation needed is massive, whether it is a small company or a member of the Fortune 500.

You should read those comments in Michael Arrington’s post and think about their motivations – extremely carefully. You’ll also find a link to Jason’s original post there if you wish to read the full details. The future of not only the Internet, but also the future of business organizational structures and marketing strategy budget direction hangs in the balance.

So my question for Jason Calacanis, Fred Wilson, Michael Arrington and EVERYONE ELSE is the following, “Is it time to stop pretending that offline branding models simply converted online is the future of the advertising? If a world migrated budgets from CPM banner ads to CPA/CPL and other emerging forms, who would really care about unique visitors besides site owners seeking an ego boost?

Bonus question for Fred Wilson: Wouldn’t your energy be better spent on funding ideas that move the conversation in the direction of innovation of advertising instead of arguing with Jason about a company you exited long ago? (If you are up for it, I’d like to create those realities with you in start ups in that future arena.)

In the end measurement of the type discussed in Jason’s post only matters in an advertising world based on page view based(CPM) or time sponsored impressions. As in my example above, considerable display advertising occurs in an irrelevant way after the fact. For example, I bought a car last September, I’m still seeing increased banners on the models I considered now – after the purchase. Women planning weddings likely have seen related retargeted banners long after the wedding has occurred, possibly even after the divorce is filed in some cases!!! We must do better.

The convergence of offline, online, search and mobile marketing will require entirely new processes to effectively manage them as it becomes a real-time individual decision marketplace. To me, it will have similarity to the changes I made in the 1990’s at BlackRock, where we created new data, new structures, new standards and created better information for us to create strategic advantages.  I actively network with some outstanding nascent start ups, sadly many are ignored as many VCs look for traffic or who is involved rather than focus on revenue models, vision, market size and evidence that there might be paying customers for such a new , disruptive model.

The economy right now is bad, but to state that it is just an economic event is way oversimplifying it. It’s prolonged and drawn out due to the structural effects of the Internet not being managed to corporate advantage effectively. Stated simply, corporations and our society is not allocating resources in an effective manner as it fails to migrate budgets and marketing strategy to the highest ROI activities which attract relevant customers. It’s time for scarce, new and often misunderstood breeds of executives that understand these concepts to be allowed to realign corporations big and small, new and old to these new realities otherwise we will see more corporations destroyed “by doing nothing”. There is certainly a significant cost to tapping new leaders, with new skills to lead organizations into new frontiers in terms of realignment and retraining. However, the costs of doing nothing are far greater to our society as not allocating budgets to the most efficient channels and allowing those decisions to be made by people who understand these new realities is far greater.

All I can ask the both the blogosphere and the world business community is to please stop the bickering about these legacy models so we can move onto the real issue and work ahead – realigning our corporate business strategy and our society to the realities of Industrial Revolution 2.0. It starts with board of directors, CEO, CFO and COO executives asking their CMO and marketing partners the right questions. The journey will be fun.

Posted on 6 Comments

You won £850,000.00 GBP in Google new year promotion

Just received the following email in my Gmail account. How generous of Google.  I sent David Krane a note asking when we can do the photo opportunity with the big check, send the wire and all that fun stuff!

Date: Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 7:56 PM
Subject: You won £850,000.00 GBP in Google new year promotion

You won £850,000.00 GBP in Google new year promotion. Ticket

12,Serial,numbers:BTD/8070447706/06,Lucky numbers:12-12-23-35-40-41(12). For
more info,contact,

Comments closed 2/25/2010

Posted on 13 Comments

Google Local Business Center Results Emailed to Random Business Leaders?

At 9:25 PM CST tonight I received the following highly surprising email from Google Local Business Center (I have covered the numbers to protect the web site traffic data and subject matter of Google’s apparent privacy victim).

Boscos Local Business Results November 2009 Smudge

Yes, the email is for November, 2009’s local business results for some business named Boscos. A query of Boscos indicates a number of businesses with that name. Due to the size of the views, it appears to be Boscos , the Restaurant for Beer Lovers with locations in Little Rock, Nashville, Memphis and Johnson City, TN.

The following are the Google Local Business Center data elements the email contained (in case the above photo doesn’t render):
Appeared in Google local search results
Users clicked on this listing
Clicks for more info
Clicks for driving directions
Clicks to your website

My first thought was this was potentially some kind of joke by someone at Google due to the subject matter resolving to  beer, which has a long history of pranks in SEO circles. However, a Twitter user, @phillydesign sent a tweet with the following tweet with a link to Tweetpic:

Truly having trouble deciding why I rec’d this Google Local email. Is it spam? Have the googlebots lost it?

Thank you Danya! You allowed me to see I wasn’t the only one that received this.  That was a big help. We obviously don’t know the scope of this story yet, but I can say it wasn’t just one random email to me due to this tweet. I contemplated the meaning and potential impact of the event.  Immediately, my mind raced to the Google CEO Eric Schmidt press conference which I attended with Quentin Hardy back at Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2006, The full transcript of that press conference is located here

Several things stand out to me about that event, most importantly that Eric didn’t seem like he had fully considered the magnitude of the AOL data breach situation and how to answer it. These are the interactions with reporters that led to Eric’s retraction of his earlier statements:

Q:       People read the article today about AOL [inadvertently revealing search query data for its users] and say, “Oh my God, Google or whatever is going to give my searches away and everything about me is going to be known.” Can what happened at AOL happen at Google, and what do you say to the searchers out there?

Eric:    Well, our number one priority is the trust that our users have and that would be a violation of trust, so the answer is, it won’t happen.

Q:       Hi. I just want to follow-up on the AOL [privacy breach. Did you speak to AOL about this?]

Eric:     I did not contact them on this because I was busy doing these other things. I’ve been deal mode, unfortunately. So the answer is I did not.

Q:       [Follow up question asking his opinion of the eventual outcome of this AOL breach]

Eric:     In many ways, it may be positive because we want people to know things. We don’t want people to wandering around saying everything is secure, everything is protected. So I think that the awareness is positive. The specific is obviously bad. So please don’t get my message wrong here. It’s clearly a bad thing. No one disagrees with that, but I think more awareness is good. From a Google perspective, again, this would not happen. I don’t want to criticize AOL, they’re a good partner of ours, and they should answer the specifics. I don’t know enough of the details.

It is awareness, awareness that people know what goes on online, that is a good thing. The fact that people now understand that credit card fraud – again, please don’t take this out of context. This is important. I don’t want to be quoted as saying “this is a good thing.” It’s not a good thing. Awareness of what can happen, that bad things can happen, is a good thing. I hope that’s clear.

Q:       [Question regarding press criticism or negative reviews of products]

Eric:     Well, again, we get our feedback from our end-users on every search, on every use. So with all due respect to all of us, my opinions, and what you all think – we collectively are not the judge – the user is the judge. So when we bring out a product, or a new service, we look at how end-users respond to it. So the question about AOL, the real answer is, it’s an end-user trust argument. So we will do things that are specific to maintaining or improving end-user trust. And that’s how we’re going to sort all this out. There will always be people who criticize Google and that’s fine. We think the criticism is healthy, we learn from the criticism. It’s all perfectly fine.

Q:       [Regarding the AOL privacy breach …] On one side you said it’s a good thing that people understand that’s potential fraud out there. On the other side, it won’t happen here. Now why won’t it happen at Google?

Eric:     Hang on. Since we’re all on tape, I retract my previous statement because it was obviously confusing and I apologize. “[Privacy breach is] a bad thing. It’s a bad thing.” How am I doing? “It’s a bad thing.”

What  I’ll never forget is his tone when he said that…

This is the latest in a series of controversies regarding Google Local Business Results. If the Google Local Business Results were sent to many people, this could likely be as serious as the AOL data breach.

This all raises alot of fascinating questions with immense magnitude regarding Google’s trust.

1) Why are November, 2009 results being mailed on January 6th, 2010 in the first place? Seems kinda late.

2) Why did I randomly receive Boscos Local Business Listing view report? Why are others apparently receiving random Local Business Center reports that aren’t theirs?

3) What privacy issues does this incident raise?

4) Will Google discontinue the Local Business Results box altogether due to the issues with quality of this data?

5) Has Eric Schmidt broken his commitment which he made on August 6th, 2006 during the above mentioned  press conference when he said “Well, our number one priority is the trust that our users have and that would be a violation of trust, so the answer is, it won’t happen.”?

6) What does the apparent lack of controls that may have caused this incident imply about the integrity of the Adwords platform and Google’s relationship with businesses?

7) Did any companies receive a competitor’s apparent local business center results? If so what are the implications?

8.) What effect, if any, will this have on consumer adoption of the new Google phone Nexus One?

9) This event appears to imply a violation of Google’s code of conduct section I, part C (Privacy and Freedom of Expression). What actions might Google’s board of directors take with management team for allowing this to occur?

If you received one of these emails with apparent data, please leave a comment below with the details. As I learn more, I will update this post…I look forward to hearing people’s reactions to this incident.

Update #1 – Mike Blumenthal has a post on this.