You cannot have been surprised, in any way, by Google's announcement last Wednesday that it was launching a behavioral targeting program. After all, the company has masses of historical data to work with, has unfettered access to an extensive content network of proprietary properties and AdSense sites, and is the proud owner of a company that earned its $3.1 billion price tag via -- you guessed it -- behavioral targeting.
Over the past three months it has become in vogue to discuss the future of search in one word -- Twitter. With real-time, consumer-driven micro-blogging, Twitter has suddenly become what the next generation of search is to be. I started to discuss this topic in a column a few months ago, but as the buzz keeps getting louder, it seems to be a good time to revisit and debate the merits of the noise and the potential for both Twitter and the crowd sourcing of search to become the future of the space. In doing this, I'll serve up one …
I feel the ground shifting under my feet. And I'm not the only one. John Battelle voiced his perception of shift in a post this weekend: "Search, and Google in particular, was the first true language of the Web. But I've often called it a toddler's language - intentional, but not fully voiced. This past few weeks folks are noticing an important trend - the share of traffic referred to their sites is shifting. Facebook (and for some, like this site, Twitter) is becoming a primary source of traffic."
Hitwise released a report yesterday showing that Google has posted a year-over-year increase of 8% in its share of U.S.-based search queries, for a total of 72.11% of all U.S. searches conducted over a four-week period that ended Feb. 28. Yahoo, Search, MSN Search and Ask.com received 17.04 %, 5.56 % and 3.74 %, respectively, and are down year-over-year at -17 %, -20%, and -10 % respectively.
Wolfram Alpha, the new search engine due out in May, "actually computes the answers to a wide range of questions," according to Nova Spivack, CEO and founder of Twine. Which sheds light on how dumb search engines still are. They will find facts, but you still have to do the work compiling them.
You probably don't want to hire a doctor who's obviously unhealthy or a lawyer who's just been released from jail. Similarly, you should look askance at any SEM agency whose online property is in a shambles. While it's true that most agency sites are fairly decent, a surprising number of them contain enough flaws to give prospective clients pause. Following are some common and not-so-common errors I found on agency sites. If you work for an SEM agency, make sure that your own doesn't suffer from them.
So my last column sparked a ton of feedback in the form of posted responses and articles from fellow Insider, Aaron Goldman. I want to begin by clarifying for all readers that not all clients fall into the complacent, jaded or nearsighted categories. There have been so many valid points raised in Search Insider over the last few weeks, and they have a common theme: Our industry has issues, and both agencies and clients are at fault.
There's something about Tuesdays. Just when I'm starting to think about what my Thursday column is going to be about, something hits my inbox that seems freakishly timely. This time, it was David Berkowitz's ode to Skittles.com. My intention was to write about brand religions playing out online, and here, in all its gory, real-time splendor, was a parable made to order. It would be unseemly, not to mention unfaithful, not to read the signs from above and pick up this story thread so graciously thrown in front of me.
In my last column, I continued the thread around fixing the client/agency RFP process by listing 10 reasons why SEM agencies don't win new biz. However, the responsibility for ill-fated client/agency matchmaking does not reside solely with agencies. Now, I won't go as far as fellow Search Insider Janel Landis to say that clients are complacent, jaded, or near-sighted. Instead, I'll point out 10 symptoms that, if left untreated, could lead to those diagnoses.
When I was six years old, I wrote my first letter to a company, when a box of Rice Krispies didn't contain a pack of Rain-Blo bubble gum as advertised (I received a letter back, with two packs of gum). Many more letters followed over the years. It's a hobby I still revive on occasion, while sometimes adapting it to new communication channels -- as with my recent PowerPoint photo essay on a horrible Las Vegas hotel experience. Today, when contacting a company, the first place I'd likely turn is its Web site. I'm saying that tentatively, as the relaunched …