Tagged advertising

Hail to the 404!: King James loses his domain (name)

According to a variety of news sources including ESPN.com, Microsoft and NBA star LeBron James have terminated their advertising agreement, which apparently included the maintenance and hosting of lebronjames.com. As soon as the agreement ended, Microsoft pulled the plug on the site, leaving the star without his main web presence. A bit awkwardly timed for a guy who is reportedly trying to make himself into a “global icon” and is entertaining rumors about trades to big-market cities in 2010…

Here’s a hint to the wannabe stars of tomorrow: buy your domain name now for $7 a year and hold on to it until you’re famous and someone will build you a site. It’s good insurance. Just ask LeBron.

Is Google writing a code of ethics for the Web?

Karl MarxThere has been quite the buzz recently about Google’s recent move to encourage use of the rel=”nofollow” tag on paid links. Matt Cutts, whose blog offers an insider look at SEO in the Google world, argues that buying links to boost page rank should be prevented, as it constitutes deception of the search engine’s algorithm, and prevents it from serving the most relevant links to searchers.

The Official Google Blog also has an article about the nofollow attribute, which clearly states that incoming links from sites that Google deems have been paid for will not be ‘credited’ towards the target site’s page rank. Now, my point here is not to argue that Google should be allowing comment spam and other obvious and highly exploitable means of link-spamming. However, the fact that Google (and now Yahoo! and MSN Search) have decided to support and enforce the nofollow attribute as the default for paid links means that the three major search engines on the Web, through which most of the people that find information on the Web locate the sites and content they want, have taken the stand that money shouldn’t be able to buy recognition on the Internet, or at least better search results on the Internet.

While this attitude seems quite reasonable, and is garnering a lot of support throughout the blogging community, where spam is an ever-present problem (thank you Akismet, 10,000+ pieces of junk automatically filtered and counting), few seem to be regarding it as the fundamental cultural paradigm shift that it represents. In the ‘real’ world, companies with large amounts of capital can fund massive marketing campaigns, using their clout to eliminate poorer and weaker competitors. It is a simple reality of capitalism that money continues to be used to buy influence in the offline world; in fact, large firms constantly flood the market with print, radio, and TV ads that cost billions per year across the board. Why is it then, that Google and other online search giants have decided that paying to be noticed is deceptive and wrong? Is it a moral stand against a cutthroat practice, or merely another assertion of corporate domination over a particular market by its largest players.

I, for one, will be curious to see how the forces at play in the market affect the decision Google has made on paid links, as sites like ReviewMe and Text-Link-Ads will have to decide whether to conform with Google’s ultimatum, risking the wrath of their advertising clientele, or to leave the nofollow attribute out of their links, thereby risking losing publishers who fear a declining page rank. All in all, I think the decision made by Google to filter search results by non-paid links only is noble, but it ignores the larger reality of our society, which is that money drives people to content all the time.

One Dollar Bill PyramidTake, for example, the recent advent of Gofbot.com, a site operated by McDonald’s as part of a marketing campaign featuring fake newscasts proclaiming Gofbot to be ‘bigger than the Big Mac.’ The point of the campaign, and the fake page counter on Gofbot.com, which always resets to 4 hits, is that nothing is bigger than the Big Mac, a tried and true ‘American classic.’ However, if you look it up, Gofbot has a relatively decent (for a site with NO content) Alexa ranking of 352,306, driven solely by the TV campaign and the buzz it created. The page takes you to McDonald’s website after you’ve seen the mini presentation, and voila! McDonald’s has paid to send you through a link to their site. And they did it by circumventing Google and placing their high-priced advertisement in a market that already accepts that money buys the attention of people in our society.

When you consider that the Web doesn’t live as an entity by itself, and that search engines are but one way that people are driven to websites, it certainly complicates the issue that Google is taking such a clear stand on. I would love to see a world in which advertising dollars don’t make you more relevant for a particular search term, but I’m not sure Google’s moral stand can survive in a world where money already buys the attention of millions of consumers every day.

SEO, google, search, paid links, gofbot.com, mcdonalds, mcdonald’s, msn search, yahoo, advertising, online advertising, nofollow

Get an animated LED sign for your business’ storefront

The following is a compensated review of Proton LED, a site which offers LED signage for outdoor advertising.

When you first arrive at ProtonLED’s website, you’re greeted by what looks like a rapidly spinning molecule and some jaunty music. In other words, a non-standard navigation interface, to say the least. Fortunately, it’s actually not that hard to click any of the links, as they slow down to a pretty manageable speed when you want to click on one. The music is a little annoying, and while it can be shut off by pressing a little blue dot in the bottom right of the screen, there’s no indication anywhere on the page that it’s the music control. Not a great start, but certainly different than your average website experience.

The actual product that ProtonLED offers is an animated sign display for your business that uses a 17MM pixel matrix to create pretty realistic video images on custom-sized screens that can stand up to any sort of inclement weather. From what I can tell, the quality is great for outdoor displays, but it’s tough to tell, because the website doesn’t really offer that many large views of what the actual product looks like. There are a few small images that you can expand from the ‘Technology’ part of the molecule, but then there’s no way to navigate back to look at the other blown-up images. It’s relatively difficult to get a good idea of the actual quality of the video displayed by the LED screens, since the largest video offered is pretty grainy itself and only about 240×240 in size.

The bottom line on ProtonLED seems to be that the product offered is relatively advanced and would make excellent signage for a business looking to advertise in front of their store or in another prominent location. From what their website shows, the quality on the product is high and the screens are available essentially custom-made to order. However, seriously interested parties will find themselves quickly calling the company for more information, as the site is a little over-the-top and lacking deeper content. As an initial interface, the molecule frontpage is novel and doesn’t completely prevent effective navigation, but there are only a few atoms in the molecule, and each is itself only a small tidbit of information that could be expanded upon into many, many more pages.

If you’ve tried or own a ProtonLED sign, please let me know how the experience has been in a comment below.

protonled, outdoor advertising, outdoor sign, video, animation, led sign, storefront, advertising

Google’s new pay-per-action ads

Google announced today that it will begin offering its new pay-per-action ad service to its higher-traffic publishers (over 500 conversions per month). While it’s great that Google is offering this new service, I’m not exactly sold on how effective it will be for publishers.

Google’s standpoint is that the pay-per-action ad, which only pays the publisher once the person who’s clicked the ad signs up for a service or completes another such task on the advertiser’s site, will cut down on frivolous or downright illegal clicks by people being paid to do so, or bloggers cheating on their own sites. I’m sure this will happen, and I’m sure it will push more companies towards online advertising that have been hitherto reticent to jump into such a murky and unknown market.

On the other hand, as a publisher, I’m not sure I want to be responsible for someone else’s crappy site. For example, if Google puts an ad on a page that links to a site that wants its users to sign up for a free service, but the form is so long and intrusive that less than 1% of the people who click the ad end up signing up, I don’t want that ad on my site anymore. So, the solution could be as simple as the problem, if Google has acknowledged it and is planning to account for it: rank the ads by their overall conversion rate across all publishers. Then, if a particular ad performs terribly no matter what site the users are coming in from, push it down the list, so publishers can display ads for better written sites in their valuable ad space. Of course, right now Google makes its money from those very publishers, so I’m sure the way they display the ads is the same as for the standard AdSense–the more the advertiser pays, the better their position.

google, google adsense, adsense, adwords, google adwords, online advertising, pay per click, pay per action, pay-per-action, pay-per-click, advertising, ad

ReviewMe paid me!

This past month I wrote 4 reviews for reviewme.com. I was curious to see if the monthly total would post in my account view on the ReviewMe site, but to my surprise, the page indicated I’d already been paid (I had a $22.50 balance, but the site specified a minimum payout of $25).

ReviewMe1

I figured that the fact that a ‘check’ had been sent was a typo (and I’d selected the PayPal option for payment), but I was glad that at least the site carried my previous balance over into June. Just to be sure, I checked my PayPal account, which indicated that I’d actually been paid $22.50! You can check out the screenshot here.

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical of ReviewMe at first, as it seemed to be a pretty small site without a large advertiser base. The fact is that the review campaigns are pretty few and far between, and you have to log in often to snag one before it disappears. In spite of these shortcomings and others (obviously unavoidable with a new startup), I have to give ReviewMe the thumbs up, since they followed through on their payment promise, and even sent an amount smaller than the supposed minimum. Also, they approved all four of my reviews, even the one which was mostly negative towards the product under review. I, for one, will continue to look for campaigns and post reviews from their site.

reviewme paid, reviewme payment, review me, paypal, online advertising, advertising, reviewme