The European Commission, the same out-of-touch government agency that has been wasting Microsoft’s time and money for years, refused Tuesday to approve Google’s mega-billion dollar deal to buy DoubleClick, putting the entire deal on hold, possibly till March. The Commission is ordering a further review of the deal’s impact on the online advertising business, which will delay the $3.1 billion deal entirely until it is done, at the least.
Meanwhile, I keep getting PR emails from Performics, the SEO arm of DoubleClick that would be part of Google if this deal ever completed. They send me one press release about buying trends they’ve identified around the holiday shopping season, showing that the “Cyber Monday” crap we hear every year about the Monday after Thanksgiving is just inaccurate, with successive Mondays having far more shopping activity than “Cyber Monday”.
Apparently, the Mondays between Thanksgiving and Christmas are important, but successive Mondays are bigger than the first one. This year is a perfect storm, with an early Thanksgiving and Tuesday Christmas translating to five Mondays between the two holidays, more than we ever usually see, which could mean increased activity for online retailers above what is normally expected.
Performics also announced 52 new affiliate advertising clients in the third quarter, showing that Performics is growing strongly. I doubt Google would want to unload Performics once the deal is done, seeing how well it’s doing.
Google’s Inside AdWords blog has announced that Clear Channel radio stations are now available in Google AdWords for advertisers to place radio ads on. 700 Clear Channel stations are all available, plus 1,000 other AM and FM stations, an average of 12 stations in each of the top 50 nationwide markets and stations in every conceivable station format.
Om Malik writes that Google is prepared to launch a beta test of its video game advertising platform later this month, starting with Bunchball Games. The ads will be of the pre-roll and mid-roll variety, that is ads that run before the game starts and in middle of the game (perhaps between levels), 15-second video-type ads (presumably Flash animation). Next month, Google will offer a free downloadable game, Psychonauts, with 30-second video ads.
Google bought AdScape in February inorder to enter the growing game ad market, a year after Microsoft picked up Massive, a similar, but larger company. Google paid $23 million, while Microsoft paid $200-400 million for Massive, which would seem to indicate that Google got a bargain, but that would be deceiving. Google is running intrusive ads in casual Flash games, a growing but smaller industry compared to the product placement-type ads Microsoft works with in the multi-billion dollar PC and console video game industry.
I’ve played Microsoft’s Crackdown, in which billboards appear naturally throughout the game’s environment, and every time I saw a billboard with a Dodge ad, I just thought it was cool. If my loading screen was interrupted by a 30-second video ad for the same car, I’d get pissed off. Everyone likes free games, but to ignore the fact that these are different models with very different levels of customer reaction would require pretending an apple is an orange.
Google’s ads may be enough of an annoyance that players will pay just to remove them, and that’s not supposed to be the Google style. Google delivered ads are supposed to be unobtrusive and positive, and these ads are not. Perhaps they need to rethink the model, otherwise yet another principle of Google’s Founders Letter needs to be stricken from the record.
Our goal is to develop services that improve the lives of as many people as possible–to do things that matter. We make our services as widely available as we can by supporting over 97 languages and by providing most services for free. Advertising is our principal source of revenue, and the ads we provide are relevant and useful rather than intrusive and annoying. We strive to provide users with great commercial information.
InterActiveCorp, the internet conglomerate assembled by Barry Diller, is breaking up into five seperate companies following pressure Diller’s backer, John Malone. Barry Diller is following the most important piece, the new IAC, which will be mostly the Ask.com corporation, meaning Ask.com, as important as it was before, becomes the central focus for the company, great news for Ask fans going forward.
The IAC unit will basically be Ask.com, plus Citysearch and Match.com. Being spun off are HSN (Home Shopping Network), LendingTree, TIcketMaster and Interval International (a vacation time share business). Shareholders are happy, sending the stock up 7.5%, since they’ll get shares in the four new spun-off companies. The new company will be far less complex than the old IAC, with the focus being understandably on Ask and search, and if you ask me, that’s a very smart move.
Valleywag is of the opinion that the news that a major multi-billion dollar conglomerate was breaking up was much bigger news than Google’s non-phone announcement yesterday. If the internet media (which has just been embarrassing the last few days) stopped going nuts over every shiny non-news that comes along, they might even agree.
Meanwhile, Ask.com solidified its biggest revenue stream for the future, re-upping its deal with Google to carry Google ads on Ask.com. The new deal goes five years and will bring in at least $3.5 billion.
Google’s deal with Opera, making Google the default search engine in new downloads of the Opera browser in exchange for Opera getting a cut of Google ad revenue from those searches, just ran out after two years. Don’t worry about it, though, since they just went ahead and cut a new deal, so expect Opera to be free for a good time to come.
FeedBurner added a little bit of integration with Google AdSense (makes sense, considering Google bought them months ago). You can now link your AdSense and FeedBurner account, and put together AdSense ad units to use on your website (though still not in your RSS feeds), with FeedBurner having all the AdSense ad units, custom channel and color schemes you like to use. Read more about it at Problogger.
Google may be trying to get Facebook application developers to use OpenSocial, but they’re also trying to get those who keep using Facebook to use AdWords to drive users to their applications. They’ve been emailing Facebook app devs, inviting them to sign up for AdWords Pay-Per-Action ads in order to get more users. PPA ads only charge if the user completes an action, like installing the application, so it’s perfect for their purposes.
I got a link today from a Hebrew-language blog, and I decided to search Google for my first name in Hebrew. Turns out I rank sixth for “נתן“, despite having never actually written those letters here, which just makes me happy. So, I wonder if people have checked how they rank on Google in Hebrew, and if you rank at all in that language. I’m not sure how you’d find the Hebrew equivalent of your name, but give it a shot and let me know the results.
I normally don’t post about SEO contests, but in contacting me they also helped me fix a broken feature on the site, so I’ll pass this one along. Advice Network is running an article writing contest, soliciting articles on real estate, weddings and running a business. Besides the writers getting a backlink to their sites wherever the articles are printed, more importantly the best article wins its author a brand new MacBook, along with some free services.
Just in case you aren’t reading InsideMicrosoft, you probably need to know that Microsoft beat Google in some tough negotiations for an investment in Facebook. Microsoft now owns a very small percentage of Facebook, and pretty much owns the right to sell ads on Facebook for the next four year.
Google’s got a nice deal for those looking to buy Google Radio Ads. If you buy $1,000 in advertising, Google will give you $2,000 in free credit of future ad campaigns. If you’ve got a company that’s never advertised on the radio, and you have a small ad budget but would like to see if radio ads work for you, getting $3,000 worth of advertising for a $1,000 outlay is a great deal, and if you don’t make back $3,000 in increased sales, you’ll probably still make earn enough to make the ad buy profitable.
Google sent Shimon Sandler, a top AdWords advertiser, this special gift. The metal case, labeled the “2008 Marketing Toolkit”, contains a bunch of Duplo blocks labeled with the names of Google services. Looks cool, so where can I get one? Shame they don’t sell it in the Google Store.
The Associated Press has an article about Google and the fact that the company barely advertises, especially when compared with its competitors. Last year, Google spent $849 million on sales and marketing, with a tiny $188 million of that going into advertising and promotions*. Compared with Microsoft, which puts $11.5 billion into sales and marketing, or Yahoo’s $1.3 billion, and Google looks like a cheapskate.
Google’s got a powerful brand, and one it doesn’t have to prop up with very expensive advertising campaigns, so props to them. Google’s lucky more companies aren’t like them, otherwise Google would be out of business. Of course, Google’s got a lot of unpopular products, or products that have failed because no one noticed them, so they might want to buy an ad or two once in a while. GOOG-411 billboards are a good start, and they’d better advertise Google Health well (if it ever shows up) if they want it to work out.
(via Search Engine Land)
* - Consider that a bunch of that might have been wasted on Google Checkout coupons, so we’re talking even less advertising.
Google has released to the world (well, to AdSense publishers) the option to embed YouTube players with ads and make money off them. You can’t just embed any video you like, so I can’t embed my occasional “Best of YouTube” posts and make money specifically from the video player, but instead you choose from a number of YouTube’s content partners like lonelygirl15, EmergencyCheese, Ford Models, LockerGnome (Chris Pirillo), smosh and many others, or you can enter a list of keywords for Google to auto-choose videos for you from.
The video embedded above is a sample video from Google explaining how the program works. The player below is targetted to the keyword “google”:
As you can see, a small banner ad appears in a space on top of the player, and while you watch videos, an ad overlay appears at the bottom that can be closed. The playlist appears as the flowing overlay at the bottom, as it does in many YouTube videos.
Obviously, not getting to choose the videos in the player severely limits the usage of the player. It can be placed on keyword specific pages, and little else. If there’s a Chris Pirillo video I really like, even though he’s a YouTube partner, I can’t share that video as an ad unit, because I can only broadly select his channel, not any specific videos.
Also, the argument for YouTube only advertising with partners only works with ads on YouTube.com, that users who upload video should get to decide if video appears beneath their content, and YouTube should decide which videos are worthy of advertising. If I want to put ads around my own videos on my own external site, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to, especially since this program links my YouTube account to my AdSense account.
Still, it’s good to see this getting started. Hopefully, Google will figure out that the appeal of this program in its current form is limited, and fix it soon.
The YouTube AdSense unit can be activated in your AdSense account, and is then available on YouTube itself at this link. It is currently only available to English-language publishers in the U.S..
I know the Google/DoubleClick deal has just been assumed as an eventuality, but what if Microsoft actually succeeded at blocking it? What would be next for Google, and would DoubleClick survive all the upheaval intact? Right now, we’re mostly looking at sparring between the two companies, but if Microsoft f’s up Google’s megabillion dollar deal, it could be war.
UPDATE: Here’s Google’s David Drummond talking to Congress:
Google has released a tool for creating print ads for Google AdWords Print advertisers, assisting businesses in creating professional looking ads to run in magazines and newspapers. Because Google targets the long tail, many of its print advertisers have never created a newspaper ad before, and Google would like to help make sure those ads don’t look just plain silly.
Looks like Google bought a billboard to advertise GOOG-411, its directory assistance phone service. The billboard was spotted by Mike Blumenthal around Olean, NY. Google has traditionally not advertised for its products, preferring them to spread by word of mouth (and giant amounts of Google AdSense ads), but they were bound to start buying ads eventually.
Valleywag thinks Google hasn’t changed its tactics, but rather that Google is getting intot the display advertising game, as has been rumored for awhile. Since Google normally fills unfilled inventory with ads for its own products, this could be a billboard Google is planning on selling advertising on, and it just contains the GOOG-411 ad until they sell something.
(via Search Engine Land)
As several blogs have noted, a problem is that the ads can only be shown on mobile sites, but not regular sites. If you have a completely seperate website for mobile devices, you can run the ads there, but if you just change your CSS for mobiles, that makes implementing these a lot harder. Expect to see them in a lot of iPhone “apps”, but not a lot of blog templates.
The other release was that of Google Gadget ads, which are a new ad format AdWords advertisers can take advantage of. It’s a rich media ad, that can contain anything a Google Gadget can, and thus have some very advanced functionality. Not only will these be used as ads, but they can be added to users iGoogle personalized homepages, monetizing iGoogle and expanding the reach of the ads beyond a display ad to something you keep and use continuously.