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Friday, March 27, 2009

Microsoft's Search Talent Power Grab

According to this report Microsoft is continuing its search talent power grab with the focus on Yahoo! alumni. This is interesting for 2 reasons:
1) How is Yahoo! not able to retain these employees or is it that they don't want to?

2) Either the attention is so focused on the relationship between Microsoft and Yahoo! that we are not hearing about the Askers and Googlers defecting or is it Microsoft's strategy to acquire as much knowledge as possible about its possible future Yahoo! acquisition?

Either way Microsoft is acquiring the talent it thinks it needs to gain some ground in search or developing enough corporate espionage to make a valid buy attempt on Yahoo! I think the #2 option is the more likely scenario, but that is my opinion, what is yours.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Utah saves PPC but Texas Could Kill 1 Strategy

Days after the Utah Senate saved the strategy of using trademarked words to trigger ads the Texas courts are reviewing a case that could jeopardize that strategy once again. Wendy Davis's article from MediaPost states that Yahoo! was dealt a blow to its court case defending against American Airlines. Yahoo! had sought to move the case to their home ground rather than American Airlines base camp. The judge denied that request and to boot this is the same judge that presided over American Airlines battle with Google that was decided out of court in favor of American Airlines.

A quick search on both Yahoo! and Google for American Airlines shows that both have stopped serving PPC ads triggered for that Trademarked keyword. Here is my question, doesn't Travelocity and Orbitz and even travel agencies have the rights to bid on those keywords as they are selling the American Airlines product and thus not deceiving the customer. Maybe American Airlines poor service rankings over the past few years are driving this knee-jerk response to eliminate competition (see Forbes 2007 list of top 10 worst airlines. Or Travel and Leisure's December 2008 article.

Even after Google settled out of court with American and stopped serving ads why did the other airlines not jump on this bandwagon to ensure their good name?

I believe this is the court filing in case you wanted to peruse what is going on.

I would love other people's take on this lawsuit and why it could win and why it could lose. And what exactly does an American Airlines win mean?

Friday, March 13, 2009

PPC Saved again by the Utah Senate

According to the Daily Online Examiner. A bill to disable using Trademarks to trigger Google AdWords ads has failed to pass in the Utah Senate. After passing by one vote in the Utah House of Representatives the bill forwarded on to the Senate failed to get the number of votes needed to pass in to law. This is a big sigh of relief for those advertisers who believe that triggering an ad based on a competitors name is a viable competitive tactic. This is the 3rd or 4th time this bill has come before the Utah Legislature, I wonder if they will finally put this to rest. For more information on this case see my previous post at post

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Take on Utah's Ban on Trademark Triggered PPC Ads

A recent article by Wendi Davis over at Media Post caught my attention. I have been following this case for a couple of years and the possible impact it can have on the Pay-per-Click advertising medium. The Utah House has passed a bill banning using trademarks to trigger pay-per-click advertising.

At the surface this seems reasonable. Companies have worked hard to register and build their trademarks. Thus allowing someone to hijack that brand awareness when someone types in that trademark into a search engine seems unfair. For instance, if someone types in the name of a local pizza establishment but Pizza Hut has bought that establishment's name and targeted an ad there that customer may be swayed to order their pizza at Pizza Hut instead. Is that unfair or is that the competitive nature of search engine results?

I think the Google lobbyists put this analogy to the Utah lawmakers last time this bill was put forward, PPC is a competitive environment similar to a supermarket. People go to search out their favorite frozen pizza but then are confronted with a host of other options, some that are cheaper and some that have more toppings. They are given the opportunity to know that their are other options other than the Red Barron pizza they were after. In fact rack space within that supermarket freezer is a valuable commodity that is constantly being fought for. Who gets the eye-level rack space? I don't know how they figure that out but it is usually NOT the generic startup frozen pizza company. Does that make it unfair to the consumer, should the consumer have to type in the brand name it is looking for at the start of an isle so that he is not presented with other options? "No!" you say, "That would be ridiculous you are over simplifying things."
OK, but lets look at the searcher's intent. If their intent is only to find the brand name that they just typed in what makes you think that the ad copy above that Natural ranking position will sway them from their desired result. If they are swayed by that ad doesn't that suggest that they are open to other brand choices or at least curious about what else is out there?
I guess the main point I am getting at is that if people are truly searching specifically for a brand they will not be swayed by the ads above the optimized listing for the brands trademark. They will easily find what they are looking for unless they don't know what they are looking for and are using the trademark as a stepping stone to finding what they truly want, cheap and good tasting pizza!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Skittles' Multiple Personality Disordedr

So now Skittles have switched from their Facebook page to their Wikipedia entry, something that is even more stable but truly not that interesting or interactive, in my opinion.(See this previous post for info on the previous Twitter version of their homepage.)
They also still have their twitter feed but it is now under the "Chatter" button.
They also still have their Facebook account up but it is now under their "Friends" button. Another thing of note on the Facebook account is that they took the discussion forum off the main page but it appears to have given the posts portion the full page rather than boxed it off to multiple things. Well there is the latest update.
One person on my Twitter feed discussion on the Skittles Facebook page mentioned that last Friday they had their Wikipedia page as the homepage but Wikipedia flagged the entry as an advertisement that needed a major re-write to become an actual encyclopedic entry. Here is the Wikipedia entry before and now after. As you can see there was a major re-write that went on. Maybe it was their goal the whole time to have Wikipedia as their page but needed to wait for the major content re-write to take place. Who knows.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Standing out with getting in the way

I was taking a break from work and playing some Yahtzee, when it loaded this came up
They owned this space and to their benefit I am not exactly the target market for this product but this game website definitely fits their target.

What is interesting is the fact that these big name brands are finding ways to interact with their audience that is outside the norm. I noticed it right away, well it was hard to avoid, but not annoying I could still play my game in peace.

So we as marketers need to come up with the unique and memorable things that stick out but not annoy. I like this example and wanted to share.

Skittles Ballsy Homepage Move - UPDATED

UPDATE: So Skittles has already moved away from the Twitter stream it was using as its homepage. Instead it opted for a safer homepage location... its own Facebook page where it can control what is said about its brand. According to Laurie Sullivan over at MediaPost they pulled the feed after pranksters started spamming the list with obscenities. So time of death appears to be sometime on Tuesday. The messages on the Facebook account seem much more product targeted thus I believe that Skittles is monitoring what is going to stay up on their wall and discussion groups. As a test I posted a question about the twitter feed idea to their discussion group. We will see how long that stays up and what response come from their "fan" base. I will keep you updated.


I will have to say this, it is a very risky maneuver by Skittles to have their homepage be a User Generated Content feed. They never know what will come on top. It will be very easy for someone to game the system for their own benefit.

One thing Skittles has going for them is the amount of attention both good and bad they are getting in the twitterverse. I do not follow that many people (currently in the low 100's) but there has been quite of bit of talk about this webpage already. It will be interesting to track how long this will stay up before being gamed. Any predictions, leave a comment with your guess and if you are right you will win my respect (sorry don't have much else to give here, you can have the honor of employing me :) )

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