Fast Five in Search – Week 50, 2014

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There’s been some really clever Christmas marketing campaigns come across my desk this month – the type of ideas that have you thinking about them a lot longer than the bog standard Xmas marketing pitches.

So this week’s Fast Five is all about the Cleverest Christmas Marketing Campaigns.candy-cane-sml

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Coke Zero Sweater Generator by Royale for Coca Cola. This ingenious web app was the brainchild of uber-hip design firm Royale for Christmas 2013. It allowed users to design their own version of the geekiest holiday sweater ever, using a series of pre-set design features, images, colors and patterns. The top 100 designs were chosen by users and put into actual production, before being tagged with Coke Zero labels and hand delivered to the winning designers.

2) The Wondrous Wellington Advent Calendar by WellingtonNZ.com. This one is closer to home and celebrates my city of residence, so it has a special place in my heart. Wellington Tourism have designed a beautiful animated map of the city, in which they have hidden a working advent calendar for Christmas 2014. Each day this month, you are able to *open* a flap within the calendar corresponding to the date (if you can find it!). Inside is a discount offer or voucher deal for various retailers, restaurants, activities or venues around the city. Two for one gelato? Mmmmm, you bet.

3) Christmas Tinner by Game Digital plc. British video games retailer Game Digital came up with this little gem for Xmas 2013. The idea spawned after a survey of video gamers revealed that most intended to play through Christmas Day and they’d rather give up Christmas dinner than have to stop playing. Game Digital came up with the solution: a festive feast in a tin. Christmas Tinner comprises of nine layers of food – ranging from a starter to a pudding and you can see it in all it’s glory via this video review (yes he actually eats it).

4) Maker’s Mark Ugly Holiday Sweaters by Maker’s Mark. For Christmas 2011, bourbon producers Maker’s Mark created a special Christmas promotion for their Brand Ambassadors, consisting of delivering each one a special holiday sweater custom made for their bourbon bottles. Apparently the promotion was a huge hit on social media, enabling them to dominate bourbon-related search traffic and put their major competitor – Jack Daniels – on ice (sorry).

and finally…

5) WestJet Christmas Miracle by WestJet. The WestJet Christmas promotion from Christmas 2013 made a SPECTACULAR impact on the Internet. Staff from WestJet in Canada placed an interactive screen within one of their boarding gates, allowing passengers to talk to Santa and tell him what they were hoping to receive for Christmas.  The supposedly random group of passengers boarding for a domestic flight from Toronto to Hamilton were then amazed to find those gifts waiting for them upon arrival at their destination. The resulting YouTube video went viral and nuts on social media. Who can resist the power of Santa Claus delivering presents via luggage carousel? Not me, I still get tears in my eyes watching this one. It’s a marketing miracle.

Happy Christmas marketing!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 49, 2014

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If you saw my post earlier this week, you’ll know that I’ve decided to become an e-lancer. I’m spending 30 days totally immersed in the online job market as a way to earn income as a freelance geek-for-hire.

In preparation for this experiment, I needed to research and find the most popular outsourcing job sites and online work platforms on the Internet and register with them. And so the inspiration for this week’s Fast Five was born!

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Elance – Elance is the world’s most popular outsourcing job site, used by approximately 500,000 businesses and 2 million registered freelance professionals, who have collectively earned nearly $900 million to date. The site launched in 1999, with a name apparently inspired by a 1998 Harvard Business Review article called “The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy”. In December 2013, Elance announced that it was signing a partnership to merge with its biggest competitor, oDesk, to create an online workplace for a combined total of 8 million registered individuals. The new partnership is unimaginatively named Elance-oDesk.

2) oDesk –  oDesk was founded in 2003 by Greek entrepreneurs Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis. Prior to merging with Elance, oDesk was the second most popular outsourcing job site. Unlike Elance, oDesk tends to have a more technical audience, with the majority of jobs available leaning more towards the IT and digital fields. Most freelancers in tech that I’ve spoken to suggest that oDesk offers better quality job opportunities than Elance, as well as higher earnings potential and a more professional network of employers and freelancers. There is also a stronger spirit of collaboration on oDesk, with freelancers regularly banding together to bid collectively for large projects.

3) Freelancer – Freelancer pitches itself as a marketplace where employers and employees are able to find each other. The site allows employers to post projects they need help with. Anybody is then able to submit bids to complete the project and the employer chooses the bid that appeals to them and awards the project. This can result in competitive bidding wars, where the price for a project actually goes down, rather than up.

The site was founded in Australia in 2009 and operates quite differently to other job outsourcing sites, in that it operates on a reward system and different levels of paid membership. Free accounts can only bid on 8 projects per month and cannot make direct deposit withdrawals. Higher tiers of paid accounts get additional bids, direct deposit withdrawals, and other features. You can also get rewarded with extra XP for performing actions such as “Like us on Facebook”. By earning XP, the user can “level up” his or her account and unlock more rewards, including features such as being able to bid on more jobs per month.

4) Guru – Guru.com directly connects businesses and employees in 160 different industries. Guru Inc. was founded in 1999 in San Francisco as an online clearing house for high tech workers seeking short-term contracts. The company, led by brothers Jon and James Slavet, raised $3M in angel funding and a further $16M in a full venture round. The company was acquired in December 2002 by Unicru, a human resources software company based in Portland, Oregon. Unicru later sold the Guru.com domain name and logo to eMoonlighter.com, and eMoonlighter was renamed Guru.com.

and finally…

5) Fiverr – Fiverr was founded by Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger in 2009 to provide a platform for people to buy and sell a variety of digital services typically offered by freelance contractors e.g. writing, graphic design,and programming. Fiverr’s services begin at a cost of $5 per job performed (from which it takes its name), and can go up to thousands of dollars. Each service offered is called a “Gig”. The website was launched in February 2010. In August 2014, Fiverr announced that it had raised $30 million in a Series C round of funding, bringing their total funding to date to $50 million.

Happy job hunting!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 48, 2014

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So this week I’ve been reviewing our Search Industry Event Timeline which forms part of our introductory SEO course at Search Engine College. I was struck by the sheer number of acquisitions made by search giant Yahoo over the past 20 years and how controversial some of those purchases have been for them.

So this week I give you: the Five Most Controversial Purchases Made by Yahoo.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) January 1999: Yahoo Acquired Geocities for $4.58 billion

In the 1990’s, before the rise of Content Management Systems and online web page builder services such as Google Sites and WordPress, there was Geocities. Everyone could have a web page at Geocities and populate it with as many animated gifs and flashing headlines as they liked. Yahoo saw the potential for eyeballs that Geocities presented and purchased the service for a whopping US$4.58 billion in stock in January, 1999, then proceeded to completely ignore it. The site finally died from neglect in 2009.

2) July 2003: Yahoo Purchased Overture for $1.63 billion

This purchase was a direct response to the growing success of Google’s AdWords paid advertising program. Originally known as GoTo.com, Overture was the first paid search advertising program and had no serious rivals until Google launched AdWords in 2000. Yahoo’s purchase included search engines AltaVista and AllTheWeb, which Overture had acquired just a few months earlier. Yahoo later rebranded Overture as Yahoo Search Marketing and ran it haphazardly until it became clear it was no rival for AdWords. In 2010, Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft morphed the program into Microsoft adCenter and the combined service eventually became known as Bing Ads.

3) March 2005: Yahoo Bought Flickr for Between $22 and $25 million

There was enormous outcry when Yahoo! acquired photo sharing service Flickr and its creator Ludicorp. The acquisition reportedly cost somewhere between $22 and $25 million and was announced almost casually on the Flickr blog. Most people agree that Yahoo’s purchase ruined Flickr forever.

4) December 2005: Yahoo Acquired del.icio.us for an Estimated $20 million

Online bookmarking service del.icio.us was purchased by Yahoo late 2005 for an estimated $20 million. The once respected social sharing site was left to flounder for 6 years, before being sold off to the founders of YouTube in April 2011.

and finally…

5) May 2013: Yahoo Purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion

Yahoo’s purchase of blogging and publishing platform Tumblr in mid 2013 was met with shrieks of horror from the blogging community, who had witnessed the slow death of other Internet services purchased by the search giant. Announced directly on her own cutesy Tumblr, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer promised “not to screw it up”. Whether that happens remains to be seen. The most positive feedback I can find since the purchase is a comment from Tumblr founder David Karp who admits that Yahoo has allowed Tumblr to maintain independence so far. Although that may change soon because apparently Yahoo is trying to turn Tumblr into a competitor for YouTube.

I wonder what Yahoo will buy next?

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 47, 2014

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This week I’ve been taking the Google AdWords Certifications in order to re-satisfy the minimum requirements for my agency to achieve Google Partner status. So it’s not surprising that AdWords-related posts have caught my attention most often this week.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) AdWords Gets Local Google Forwarding Numbers by Chris Crum of WebProNews. Lots of new AdWords features were announced by Google this month, one of which is local Google forwarding numbers, which advertisers will be able to display on their ads. These will have local area codes with number displayed and may inspire more clicks/calls from searchers in the vicinity of the business.

2) AdWords New Demographic Charts Offer Visual Insights on Age, Gender & Parental Status by Ginny Marvin of Search Engine Land. Another new Google AdWords feature is Demographic Charts. These new charts show detailed reach metrics for your ads on the Display Network across particular demographics including gender, age and parental status. The new charts can be accessed via the Demographics tab under the Display Network section of AdWords and can be viewed by impressions, clicks or conversions.

3) 7 Alternatives to Google AdWords for Small Businesses by Adrienne Erin of SiteProNews. As a small business owner, this post jumped out at me. In it, Adrienne explains why AdWords may not always be the best ad network choice for small businesses with limited budgets. She offers up several economical alternatives for advertisers who are currently disenchanted with AdWords.

4) Delving Into the Auction Insights Report by Helena Clark of Search Engine Watch. I’m a big fan of the AdWords Auction Insights reports, so I was pleased to see a recent post dedicated to this. Basically, Auction Insights reveal several different statistics about your search campaigns: impression share, average position, overlap rate, position above rate, top of page rate, and outranking share. Because the report provides information on advertisers who participated in the same auctions as you, it provides a loose benchmark for your performance against other advertisers in the same industry. Strangely, Helena’s article does not include how to find your Auction Insights reports in your AdWords account, but you can access them by selecting your campaign, ad group or keywords, then clicking on the box next to the metric you are measuring, clicking on *Details* at the top of the table and then choosing *Auction Insights* from the drop-down menu.

and finally…

5) How Google AdWords Works (Infographic) by Lindsay Kolowich of HubSpot. If you manage Google AdWords campaigns for a living like I do, you will eventually get asked the magic question: “How does Google determine where my ad ranks against other advertisers?”. Well, this handy Infographic now saves you the exhausting task of explaining Ad Rank to a non-technical person. I’ve printed it out and stuck it to my office wall. I’m even tempted to carry a copy in my wallet for those awkward networking events.

Happy advertising!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 46, 2014

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Social media seems to be dominating my newsfeeds more so than search marketing this week. Both Facebook and Twitter have released some interesting usage data, while content marketing trends seem to be favoring social media over traditional search when it comes to online conversions. Accordingly, this week’s Fast Five reflects the trend.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Facebook says Government data requests up 24 percent by Josh Wolford of WebProNews. This month, Facebook released something they call a transparency report, which provides info on how many data and content removal requests it receives, as well as national security requests initiated through FISA. According to the report, US Government requests for data increased by 24 percent in the first half of 2014.

2) How many college students tweet daily? New and updated Twitter stats by Craig Smith of Digital Marketing Ramblings. Twitter revealed their latest usage data late last month, as well as their third quarter 2014 financial results. In this post, Craig links to the report and shares some of the more notable highlights from the released figures.

3) Though people trust other consumers most, brands still have a role to play by Katy Keim of Marketing Land. In this intriguing article, Katy looks at the tug-of-war going on between traditional brand-driven marketing campaigns and consumer trust-driven social marketing campaigns when it comes to purchasing decisions. Online reputation and consumer trust are proving to have more influence over brands than ever before.

4) Search vs. social: How to drive website traffic with evergreen content by Skip Besthoff of SiteProNews. Another tug-of-war going on in digital marketing is the competition for traffic between search marketing and social marketing. This post looks at why webmasters can’t afford to ignore either when planning their content marketing strategies.

and finally…

5) 9 Real life conversion rate optimization tests to try yourself by Ginny Sosky of HubSpot. Just for fun, we’ll end this week’s Fast Five with some conversion rate tests that seem to buck the trend. The one that surprised me was the Call to Action form placed way below the fold resulting in over 300 percent conversion increase!  Looks like I’ve been designing my landing pages wrong all this time ;-)

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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