Top stories Nov 2008

By Greenlight | 03 Nov 2008

Yahoo! deals with rival search engines scrapped

Yahoo! received a double blow last this month when Google announced it was no longer going ahead with the proposed advertising search partnership, then Microsoft told them it was uninterested in renewing bid talks.

Google claims ongoing concerns from regulators and advisors were behind its decision. According to comments posted on Google's blog by David Drummond, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, the risks involved were too great.
Not only was there the danger of a protracted legal battle, but relationships with valued partners could have been damaged.  Drummond also claimed the Yahoo/Google partnership 'wouldn't have been in the long-term interests of Google or our users.'

Yahoo! would have benefitted immensely from the deal with Google. The search engine runs a distant second to the gargantuan Google in the search wars and would have had the chance to use Google to provide ads on its websites in the US and Canada.

Meanwhile Microsoft's Chief Executive, Steve Ballmer, announced: 'We are not interested in going back and looking at an acquisition (of Yahoo!).' However, Balmer did add that there are still some opportunities for 'some kind of partnership around search' between Yahoo! and Microsoft.

Etailers should look to future with confidence despite downturn

The recession may be deepening and high street outlets struggling, but online retailers are still likely to see considerable growth in the lead-up to Christmas, say analysts.

In a recent report, Verdict Research predicted online retailers could expect to see as much as 39.9% growth in sales this festive season, and online spend may reach £7bn.

Some etailers are looking towards the future uncertainly however - with most boosting their marketing budgets to attract customers. Karen Hazeldine, Online Brand Marketing Controller for fashion site, Oli, says: 'We're keeping our fingers crossed that we won't see a downturn in customer spend.'

Oli has launched marketing activity to promote its three-month interest opt-out plan, which enables customers to spread the cost of their Christmas spending, as well as cutting its delivery charges.

Meanwhile, John Lewis has joined Microsoft in launching a multi-million pound promotion to drive traffic to Live Search. John Lewis vouchers and prizes will be given away for the next 11 weeks as part of the promotion.

Google now indexing scanned documents

Google has started indexing documents posted online that contain images of text, it announced on its blog on 6 November 2008. It now uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology to convert a picture of text into words so that it can be searched for online.

This development makes valuable documents much more easily found, when once they were hidden from public searches. Historically, it was only documents that were converted to PDFs that were indexed and included in results. Now, everything from government reports to obscure academic papers can be readily accessed.

Google Product Manager, Evin Levey, says Google is now able to apply OCR technology to any scanned documents stored in Adobe's PDF format that it finds. He describes the advancement as a 'small but important step forward in our mission of making all the world's information accessible and useful.'

Obama victorious - SEO played a role in election success

Nobody is seriously claiming Barack Obama won the election on the basis of superior search engine optimisation tactics. But many across the industry are applauding the President-Elect's attention to SEO - and claiming it gave his campaign the edge over John McCain's.

'I feel sorry for Senator McCain,' writes one blogger. 'Because his site did not make use of SEO McCain failed to rank highly for many important search queries.' He believes this lost McCain visitors, donations and ultimately votes.

There can be no denying that the President-Elect's campaign made better use of a whole raft of SEO methods, such as blogging, video, social media, building a reputation online, ROI-focused web design and optimising for Google Local and maps.

Indeed, political parties this side of the water should take note and look to employing SEO methods in advance of the next General Election, which by law can be held no later than 2010.

Greenlight's Chief Executive and co-founder, Warren Cowan says: 'Anyone running for office should go to Google Local Search and see the link between policy areas and actual search activity. They then need to bid on those terms to let people know they have a decisive policy on, for instance, jobs, schools or knife crime.'

Google to introduce agency commission on video ads

In its latest move, Google is to introduce agency commission for video advertising as part of a bid to encourage increased investment and progress in the sector.

The search engine colossus says an 'incentivisation programme' will demonstrate their commitment to developing video advertising opportunities across their network, including YouTube.

Universal search is pulling video into natural results as businesses use more and more video content on their sites to reach consumers in new ways. So it was only a matter of time before Google pushed the emphasis on to paid-for video ads to monetise this opportunity. 

The search engine says the medium has yet to be properly understood by publishers and advertisers. To this end, Google is launching a joint research project with agencies to better appreciate how web users are consuming video online.

It is also working with rich-media specialist, Tangozebra, to develop new ad formats alongside external agencies and clients.

Is search set to grow due to economic downturn?

The UK branch of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organisation (SEMPO) is carrying out a new study, which will look at how the economic downturn will affect the search marketing industry.

SEMP predicts that search marketing activity is set to increase as a result of the economic pressures on UK businesses. The survey, which kicked off at the end of October, will run for four weeks and will test the theory that search is growing due to its ability to offer measurable results.

Search continues to do well, as marketers move away from traditional advertising towards new media channels. A recent report by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), Pricewaterhouse Coopers and the World Advertising Research Center (WARC) showed that online ad spend grew to £1.7 billion in the first half of 2008, a 21% increase from the same period last year.

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