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April 2004, Week 3 Marketing Archives

Friday, April 23, 2004

Maybe it's Just Me, Google Bug 2

I was researching a ColdFusion app tonight when I clicked on the "Google Category Button" on the Google Toolbar and the category was "http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/ Programming/Internet/ColdFusion/Applications/". Even though that's what showed up in the browser address field, the results page showed a completely different category. "http://directory.google.com/Arts/Literature/World Literature/British/Shakespeare/Works/Plays/" Here's a screenshot of the second google bug I investigated. That's so weird. I'm honestly not sure why Google returned a completely different category. Some possible explanations are that Google was tracking my session (not likely on this since it was my first request but possible) and my session variables weren't locked by their server therefore returning someone else's results to me. I don't think that explanation holds up because I clicked on the button in the Google Toolbar, which is just like a bookmark. Therefore, my session vars wouldn't even have been attached to me until my request was completed, therefore I had not initiated a session and thus the session vars couldn't be mixed up. Explanation 2: The button on the toolbar malfunctioned. It could've posted a request for a completely different category than the one associated with the site I was on. I don't buy that though because the url showed the category for the site just fine and it was the contents of the rendered html results page that showed differing information than the true results for that particular category. Explanation 3: There could be a minor bug with the new Google directory. Remember, when Google launched their new look they removed the directory information relating to each web site. Could these two items be related, possibly but I have no idea how. Gut Explanation: My gut tells me there was an io error between my toolbar and Google. Perhaps my toolbar sent only partial information to directory.google.com and thus the directory engine did it's best to determine what I was looking for and instead of returning nothing it returned a category it thought matched. That's probably the best explanation I can come up with but I'll ask the experts and see what they have to say. If I hear anything back I'll post it here.

Maybe it's Just Me, Google Bug 2 By Jason Dowdell at 10:30 PM
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MIT News Scraping?

Last week I posted an entry in Andy's Blog about an article on the Technology Research News website about an article they wrote on a search engine that is suppose to be integrated into the domain name system for the internet. This would put all domains, meta data about them and contents of their sites in one large database for search and retrieval.

The article was good but now it's been regurgitated, nearly a week later at an MIT publication. What's up with that? I thought MIT is the best and brightest. Well, wait a second. They are the best and brightest in the technical field. I forgot that they really aren't the best and brightest in the journalistic field.

Anyway, I'm being too hard on them. The fact that this search engine is getting attention in multiple places is worthy of a mention anyway.

MIT News Scraping? By Jason Dowdell at 11:34 AM
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Worst Conversion Ratio Ever

After reading about a custom built Star Wars Star Destroyer at eBay I decided I had to comment on it. Evidently, someone has spent the last 3 years of their life building this model, talk about insane. It's even been built to the scale of the 3'' Star Wars action figures. It's amazing, the listing has pulled in 109,940 curious visitors like myself but it's only been able to generate 3 bids. If you consider a conversion someone placing a bid then the ending conversion ratio is .000272876%, Can you imagine having that kind of conversion ratio on a site that gets the majority of it's traffic from ppc campaigns?

Let's do a little scenario.

You sell widgets for $50.00 a piece
Your average ppc for each visitor is .15 cents
You've been told your site should convert at 1%
If you have 1,000 visitors/day your costs would be $150/day
You'd have 10 sales for a total of $500 in revenues and if your cost is $25/widget then you'd make the following each day.

$500 (total revenues)
-$150 (ppc fees)
-$250 (cost of goods sold)
---------------------------
$100 net profit per day

Take the same pricing model we used for this ppc scenario and apply it to the Star Wars Star Destroyer on eBay. We'll assume an ending price of $1,000 which I think may be a bit liberal but we'll see.

$1,000 (final price)
-$16,491 (ppc fees) (.15 * 109,940 visitors)
-$0 (cost of goods sold - it took 3 years of his life and who knows how much material)
----------------------------
($15,491 net loss)

Thank goodness he's not using ppc to get his traffic right?

I think there's something we can derive from this little play on guerilla marketing meets ppc.
Guerilla marketing techniques don't typically end up in conversions. They're better suited for branding campaigns where you're trying to get your name out but not necessarily for an ongoing business model. They typically generate a lot of curiosity from voyeurs and usually make us laugh or make our jaw drop but they don't really persuade us to spend any money. I think that's the main problem with this eBay listing. I'm glad to see this guy's work is getting attention but it's unfortunate how the attention isn't converting into bids on his Star Wars Star Destroyer.

Long Story Short Summary
Before you begin a marketing campaign, make sure it's one that matches your end goals. Whether those goals are selling an item, getting a vote, or marketing your brand to the masses. Choosing the wrong tactic will backfire and you're left holding the bill.

Worst Conversion Ratio Ever By Jason Dowdell at 08:45 AM
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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Tried out Flickr

I tried out Flickr and it's pretty cool but I wish you could use it via WAP.

Tried out Flickr By Jason Dowdell at 12:20 PM
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FunWebProducts a.k.a. iWon Makes Me So Mad!!!

Over the past two days I've seen 4 partner request forms submitted on Global Promoter from the same ip address and a browser containing the FunWebProducts browser. Evidently it's owned by iWon and is adware. There's no proof that it's spyware but if it makes users click on links that automatically fill out forms with no information just for kicks and giggles then I don't like it.

Evidently, the folks at WebMasterWorld have also noticed FunWebProducts running amuck on their sites as well. If this is indeed owned by iWon then I highly recommend they drop that product or fear the wrath of the tech saavy blogging community!

Here's the proof they're indeed owned by iWon. That's messed up!

FunWebProducts Adware / Scumware by iWon

FunWebProducts a.k.a. iWon Makes Me So Mad!!! By Jason Dowdell at 10:11 AM
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What's Up With That Search?

Garrett over at WebProNews featured the post below yesterday and as a trailing comment he asked "Now why is Jason searching for a Nissan Armada Headrest Monitor in the first place"?

Well, it's quite simple. Baby no.2 is on the way and I like to have my space. We're looking at all the usual suspects from station wagons to SUVs and I'm just not sure I can deal with a small suv. I mean, a small SUV is just a minivan, right? Plus, being that the board I use the most now is a 9'8" Robert Strickland noserider model, I'd like to have the option to stick that entire thing into the car if I want to.

I know, I know, SUVs aren't good on the environment. Well, I think my personal environment takes precedence at times over the ecological environment. I mean, if you have two kids screaming at the top of their lungs in the back seat while you're attempting to conduct business on the phone you'll too realize the importance of "Nissan Armada Headrest Monitors".

In Laslow's hierarchy of needs our first need is survival. Everything else is a desire not a need. So I guess you could call it survival. I mean, if you think about it, if you're mental well being is compromised then your family's will be as well so every little thing I can do to keep my presence of mind intact I'll do.

There you go Garrett :)

What's Up With That Search? By Jason Dowdell at 08:52 AM
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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Google Bug: "nissan armada headrest monitor"

I thought this was pretty interesting. When I searched on Google for nissan armada headrest monitor I found one of the results pages description spanning across the entire screen even covering up the sponsored results. I highlighted the offending description in orange in the image below.

Google Search Results Bug

I'm using internet explorer v.6 (a.k.a. ie6) on Win2k.

Typically you'll see something like this on a smaller website that allows html as part of the descriptions but as we all know, Google only lists plain text for the description of a url in it's index. Being the geek that I am I decided to do a little digging.

I went to the offending url and searched for part of the description Google had listed...

Find (ctrl + f) > "8,video,toyota,cienna,overhead,console,nissan" and found the description was in a very small font in plain view on the top of the page. So nothing fishy there.

Then I decided to look at the source code to see if there is was an applet or some screwey css causing the problem.

Right Click > View Source > Find (ctrl + f) > "8,video,toyota,cienna,overhead,console,nissan"

I found the content was listed verbatim in the Keywords tag 3 times and in the title tag 2 times. I then found it listed in the main body of the document twice as well.

While the repition of each of the string of text I searched for in the html document was blatant spamming, it didn't explain why there was a long string of text spanning the length of Google's result page in my browser.

Then it hit me, there isn't a space in that string of text anywhere on the page. Typically when the body of a page doesn't contain spaces Google will use the META description tag, the META keywords tag or the Title tag or not display a description of the url at all. In this case since all of the default places were stuffed with one long string of text it decided to use that string of text.

Now, before you get all excited thinking you've found a new way to "manipulate" Google's results, think again. I've already sent an email to Matt Cutts at Google letting him know about this anomaly and you can rest assured it'll get fixed faster than you can say "PageRank".

I also posted this entry on Andy Beal's blog so forgive me for committing textual diarrhea :)

Google Bug: "nissan armada headrest monitor" By Jason Dowdell at 11:41 AM
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6 Degrees of Organizational Hierarchy and Algorithms

In 1967 Stanley Milgram, a social psychiatrist, conducted an experiment funded by the Harvard Council of Social Relations known as "The Small World Problem". We know it today as "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon". If you're not familiar with this theory then here's a brief synapsis.

Picture a very large hat with the name of every person living on earth. Then picture pulling one name out of that hat at random. Then try to find that person. Chances are good that you don't know that person but chances are even better that you know somebody that knows somebody that knows somebody that knows somebody that knows somebody that knows this person. This is where we get the phrase "Six Degrees of Separation".

Nowadays we call it "Social Networking" but no matter what name it goes by a day doesn't pass without mention of another social networking site like friendster, orkut and linkedin. Each of these sites is trying to get you to sign up and invite others to join your network but they've become more of a nuissance than the Tool they were meant to be.

Now folks are trying to integrate social networking into search technology so your peers choice of sites they click on in search results will influence how sites rank when you type a phrase into your favorite engine.

Will this work?

Probably not, people like simple and social networks on top of algorithms is anything but simple and can't be presented to a user in a simple way. Even if it is presented to a user in a simple way they're not going to buy in because they're only going to devote about 5 seconds to learning how it works unless they're heavily motivated to spend 10 seconds. At which point in time they won't understand how it works and will forget it alltogether.

What the heck is my point?

In a conversation with a coworker today I had an epiphany. I was drilling down through a management hierarchy that was more than 12 levels deep. That's right I said 12 levels. My initial thought was, that's ridiculous! Then I started thinking about the problems that arise from that many levels of organizational structure. My first conclusion was that communication must not be good and cannot be good.

Milgram's research has been proved over and over again. Humans tend to be connected by 6 points (people|links). There's even been research conducted on the amount of influence each link(person) places on the desired contact. When the number of (people|links) gets above that number communication breakdowns occur. You're probably thinking that communication breakdowns occur way before that and I completely agree. But my point is that any self respecting business shouldn't have a huge organizational hierarchy if the CEO or person at the end of the chain is to have any influence over the employee.

The other thought that comes to mind is that this sounds exactly like Google's pagerank algorithm. It's just one part of their overall ranking algo but it's a key part. It's so critical that every other major search engine has something similar and Yahoo even invented their own version calling it WebRank. Did Google consider Milgram's research when they came up with Pagerank? Not sure but Sergey and Larry know. Chances are they did since they have stated in their PageRank research paper that sites link to other sites they consider important so a portion of the popularity of the site originating the link should be passed on to the site it links to. This makes sense and has it's own implications that I'm not willing to go into right now.

My point is that we can learn a lot from Mr. Milgram even though he's no longer with us. I think companies should keep their organizational hierarchy as small as possible, especially if the CEO is a visionary and wants to have a Messianic influence over his/her followers, I mean employees. I also think this can be applied to anyone's marketing strategy. When you determine who your target audience is you should make sure you begin familiarizing yourself with the people and products that have the most influence in their lives. Then begin to make contact with the people that control those products. There are several ways to do this but the point is that you become a spec on these folks map until you've earned their respect and then you're more of a blip than a spec. At which point in time your target market has become familiar with you and your products and will begin "connecting" to you whether it's via links to your site or mentions of you and your products to their friends and inner circles. The point is that you go to the top of the chain and work your way down for the best results.

Okay, it's almost 12:30 and I should be in bed. I'm sure nobody will read this anyway but at least I've captured several scattered thoughts that will make me think even more tomorrow.

Remember, "an idle mind is Satan's workshop" ~ James 'Jay' Clark - educator & mentor

6 Degrees of Organizational Hierarchy and Algorithms By Jason Dowdell at 12:31 AM
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Monday, April 19, 2004

Great Weekend

I had one of the most productive weekends in a long time thanks to my wife letting me get caught up on lots of work that has been piling up for the past 2 months. I was able to get my books straightened out (for my search engine marketing firm), prune the huge oak tree, weed the garden out front, prune the plumbago, do two loads of laundry, go hunting for houses, clean up my office, download, install and test the latest jdk, visit with my brother-in-law who just happened to be in town for a wedding, annoy Jonathan Taylor with stupid questions, put together a sandbox/waterbox toy for Piper, watch an hour of the Family Circle tennis tournament and a few other things.

I feel so much better now that I got some stuff done... Time to relax.

Great Weekend By Jason Dowdell at 04:11 PM
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« April 2004 Week 2 April 2004 Week 4 »

  • Week 1 (0 entries) April 1-10
  • Week 2 (2 entries) April 11-17
  • Week 3 (9 entries) April 18-24
  • Week 4 (7 entries) April 25-30

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