Oh this is so funny!!! Google tried to release an April Fool’s joke today about Google Paper
– the ability to have your emails printed and sent via snail mail!
The problem they didn’t realise is that in the latest issue of Fast Company, this ACTUALLY HAPPENS in India!!!
It’s called the ePost service from the Indian post office. Now you have a Billion Indians who are thinking that this is a legitimate alternative to their ePost service – nice try Google, but next time, make sure your PR people read Fast Company!!
I’m not going to rehash my previous post on this topic (still highly applicable – I highly recommend reading it before continuing with this post), but Google has finally launched Pay Per Action across their Adwords Network for US advertisers onto Adsense (not Search Network yet). I still believe that there are severe problems with the model, and Google will discover that it is not sustainable.
Search Engine Watch believes that Commission Junction’s days are numbered – I don’t think so! Andy Beal also has a similar view. We’ve been running CPA campaigns through Google for nearly 4 years now, and I think Google vastly under-estimates the risks and relationships at play with CPA marketing. The biggest concern though, is that Google’s internal arbitrage of CPC to CPA (which is what they’re doing, effectively), pushes prices CPC prices up in the short term, while they make mistakes that we’ve forgotten how to make, in our Clicks2Customers business.
Also, from the Inside Adwords blog, it’s not clear how they will deal with chargebacks – I’m guessing that the merchants have to factor this in? Can you imagine what’s next? Click-Order-Return (COR) fraud (i.e. Website owner clicks a merchant, places an order – merchant pays Google, Website owner returns goods – Google doesn’t refund merchant and Google pays Adsense site share of CPA). What if I’m a Google stockholder and I make a $1m purchase in order to boost the earnings, and then return or cancel the order – in theory, Google still gets paid and their stock goes up, but the merchant is out of business – just summising here, but I still don’t think CPA is viable for Google.
As I said in my previous post on this topic – Google has a smart bunch of guys, and I’m sure they will figure it out!
Rob Stokes over at Quirk beat me to my own scoop this morning – the nerve!
When Google launched their new Co-op program last month it captured our imagination! South Africa’s best search engine is the local Google.co.za, with all the others coming a distant second (based on the fact that Google is the #1 accessed site in the country). So we decided to use Google Co-Op to create a better search engine – the power of Google Search combined with local knowledge of the Internet world should lead to substantially better results.
Google Co-Op allows you to create a custom search engine which either prioritizes or only searches a designated set of pre-determined results. You can add additional refinements and as time goes on, I am sure that they will offer additional features to the product set. We are looking to the South African community to assist us in improving the results by adding the good sites, and removing the poor ones – something that is automated for Google, but will be manual for us – human intervention is a great way to detect poor spam sites, etc.
Lee Stuttaford & Keith Feldwick-Davis from incuBeta are responsible for the design & development of Sekamo – and they’ve done a great job.
The beauty of Google Co-Op is that it allows hundreds of people to team together to improve the listings by adding their favourite sites, relevant to the topic in question (in this case, South African interest). Anyone can sign up on the site, and you just need a Gmail account to get started (email me at vlingham-at-gmail.com if you need one), and start contributing the development of our local search engine.
This is true collaboration around Search – Google understands, and I agree, that search has to verticalize over the next few years – Google.com simply will not be able to improve the quality of the information without hundreds and thousands of sites like Sekamo that will feed better information into them, based upon actual user relevance and collaborator input.
I’m pretty impressed with Google, however, they have restricted the site to 5000 refinements (i.e. we cannot load more then 5000 additional sites into the index for prioritisation) – hopefully this will change soon.
So I invite all South Africans who are interested in creating a better search engine locally, to either volunteer or submit site for prioritisation in our index.
Oh, and keep this watching this space – if Sekamo takes off, you can expect us to launch many more vertical search engines!
I just got this email in my inbox, from Jotspot.
We’re writing to let you know that Google has acquired JotSpot. We believe this is great news for our users. More importantly, we want to reassure you that you’ll continue to have uninterrupted access to your account. Both Google and JotSpot are committed to supporting our customers, and we understand that users have invested a lot in our products. In the near-term, we’re focused on migrating JotSpot to Google’s systems and datacenters. We’ll work hard to make that move as seamless as possible so that customers won’t be inconvenienced.
Why is Google acquiring JotSpot?
Google shares JotSpot’s vision for helping people collaborate, share and work together online. JotSpot’s team and technology are a strong fit with existing Google products like Google Docs & Spreadsheets and Google Groups.
What does this mean for JotSpot customers?
We believe that joining Google will accelerate our team’s vision of offering users the best collaboration platform on the web. Google shares that vision and presents us with the world’s best environment for delivering on it. We’ll be taking advantage of Google’s world-class systems infrastructure and operations expertise to ensure that access to your JotSpot is fast and reliable. We can’t share any of our plans publicly just yet, but we can tell you that we’re incredibly excited about the possibilities. We can’t think of a better company to have been acquired by.
Will paying customers still be charged?
We will no longer be billing customers for the use of the service. Although you will still have use of the product at your current pricing plan, we won’t charge you anymore when your current billing cycle expires.
What about security and privacy?
Your data is yours â€” that doesn’t change at Google. We will continue to work to ensure the privacy and security of your data. Furthermore, Google is as committed to privacy and security as we are. Since the user information you provided to JotSpot will soon be transferred to Google as part of their acquisition of JotSpot, we want to provide you with the opportunity to retrieve your user information and cease usage of the JotSpot service before the transition. If you do not wish to continue using JotSpot, send an email to email@example.com in the next sixty days and we will reply with instructions for retrieving your user information.
Answers to more frequently asked questions are available at http://www.jot.com/. If you have any other questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, we wanted to offer our sincere gratitude to you â€” our customers â€” for believing in us and helping us achieve success. We look forward to continuing that relationship at Google.
The JotSpot Team
This is a big surprise, in some ways, but due to the fact that Google is so efficient at monetizing international inventory (where the other’s are not), eBay has partnered with Google on this front.Â This is an interesting move, and may squash rumours of an impending Yahoo/eBay merger.Â I cannot see the logic in this, except for revenues that eBay needs from advertising – because Google is becoming more and more of an eBay competitor.Â Time wil tell…
Ok, so Danny Sullivan has written a nice post on Google’s latest decision in certain markets to remove the Agency rebate. The real reason behind this move, in my opinion, is that it will increase relevancy.
I personally have a problem with any kickbacks/rebates that are given to advertisers in an auction driven marketplace, as those who receive these rebates effectively have an edge over other advertisers – which is not fair play. Many agencies who receive these rebates, actually refund the costs directly back to the advertiser, or factor it into their bid prices (i.e. increase their prices by up to 10% more as they receive this discount back).
So, here’s the math as to why Google is in the process of removing the agency discount, and why it’s a relevancy issue:
Let’s play our a scenario where 8 advertisers are competing for position on the front page of Google. Let’s also assume that their sites convert equally and they have the same product, therefore the same margins and by chance, they also have the same relative (to position) conversion rate on their site for each position and their max CPC starts at $1 . Let’s also assume that the price that they pay in the positions just below is also the maximum profitable price that they are willing to pay. Due to the quality scores of each advertiser, their ranking & CPC are determined as follows:
1. Advertiser A – $1
2. Advertiser B – $0.99
3. Advertiser C – $0.97
4. Advertiser D – $0.96
5. Advertiser E – $0.95
6. Advertiser F – $0.94
7. Advertiser G – $0.93
8. Advertiser H – $0.92
Ok, now if all of a sudden, Advertiser H was given a 10% rebate, he could then effectively offer a Max CPC of $1.11 . This result in the following re-ordering:
1. Advertiser H – $1.01
2. Advertiser A – $1.00
3. Advertiser B – $0.99
4. Advertiser C – $0.98
5. Advertiser D – $0.97
6. Advertiser E – $0.96
7. Advertiser F – $0.95
8. Advertiser G – $0.94
So, what has now occured is that the least relevant advert on a given keyword now receives top position, because of the rebate, even though Google themselves are not earning a higher CPC for that position. I realise this is rather simplistic and that there are other variables not mentioned, but the effect is even more pronounced when you expand it into the real world marketplace (you’ll just have to take my word for it – I have two actuaries in incuBeta ).
Google is not trying to launch an attack on Media Buyers & Search Agencies – what they’re trying to do is remain true to their users & their ranking algorithms and remove any form of bias to any advertiser. The sooner that Media Agencies come to terms with the fact that Google is full of mathemagicians…the sooner they will feel more comfortable with their policies.
I understand that it’s contradictory in some ways, as we look at China, but in essence China is such a different market and from our experiments with the ranking algorithm in this market, it’s being engineered in a slightly different way (or so we think!).
Obviously, as a performance marketing company, we welcome the removal of rebates to level the playing fields, as we do believe that we’ve been at a disadvantage by not receiving the rebates. Our business model is also geared around maximising spend toward a certain conversion metric, not brand marketing or managing client PPC spend as an agency or in-house team would. We also don’t rely on rebates and branded terms to make a campaign “look good” to a client, and in the process just pull wool over their eyes as many agencies and in-house teams do.
Our business is focused on leveraging technology and people to create systems that allow for us to rank high on well researched, niche keyword terms that our clients are not on, or are not ranked as high as they could be. Sure, it makes some agencies & in-house teams concerned and insecure, but the really advanced agencies & in-house teams never have a problem working with us and often give us valued support, because we have a common goal – increasing revenues for the client and maintaining costs to a profitable level for all parties. The removal of rebates will further pressurize the inefficient players in the market, which also benefits all parties concerned.
In closing, I believe it’s just good business for Google to focus on keeping the integrity of their ranking algorithms in line with what the end user wants and in making sure that they keep coming back.