Search Engines Want To Sit Between YOU and Your Friends

You may have noticed that the online marketing strategist in your life has been sweating a little more than usual these days. It’s not because the heat inside your building is set to unnaturally high temperatures to combat the cold. Thanks to recent changes in search engine security, online marketing has just gotten a bit more challenging.

Major search engines – including Google, Yahoo, and little brother Bing – are looking to find that sweet spot between customer privacy and satisfaction. As Christopher Soghoian, technology researcher and Principal Technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union, stated during his speech with Edward Snowden at SXSW, “Google, Yahoo and other internet companies want to sit between the conversations you have with your friends and add value…That business model is incompatible with your security, with your having a secure, end-to-end connection to your friends.”

Players in the virtual world were up in arms after revelations about government internet monitoring were brought to life (synopsis here). In response, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, and six other integral names in the information exchange mix formed Global Government Surveillance Reform. This committee strives to limit government oversight of user data and increase transparency of back-end snooping.

So why are marketing strategists feeling the stress? You may notice (or, if you didn’t, you will notice it now) that after you type a search into Google, the resulting page URL begins with HTTPS. This extraneous S automatically encrypts data or veils them to potential eavesdroppers. This means that keywords, or search terms that eventually lead a potential customer to your site, will no longer be included in the analytics.

Yes, keyword searches are an important piece of the marketing puzzle. They provide valuable insight into how you can move your website up the Google food chain. However, this recent layer of protection is not an impenetrable barrier. Here are some ways that you can respond to this strategy change:

  • Enlist outside help. Programs offering ways to interpret available data have begun to surface. For example, gShift Labs unveiled Not Provided, a program that analyzes daily metrics to offer popular keywords. Their website advises this product is best for medium-sized-and-up companies, so if you’re a small business, this may not be work for you.
  • Pay to play. Those who advertise on Google using AdWords still receive keyword data. Yahoo and Bing do not. This handy chart breaks down the differences between each major search engine’s handling of secure search.
  • Keep doing what you’re doing, and then some. You are the expert on your intended audience. When maintaining your online presence, it’s important to research key terms and common subjects; however, trying to stick to a few choice statements puts barriers on creativity and increases chances of redundancy. Having limited contact with keywords limits your chances of self-imposed restraint. Given that changes in security, protocol will not affect current rankings on search engines, embrace your new-found freedom and get creative with content!

Look at it this way, marketing gurus: secure searching is a challenge, but not a barrier. It’s time to let your flag fly: highlight your great design of infographics and not your ability to work “changemaker” and “sustainability” onto every page. If you build it and build it well, your well-protected clientele will come.

This post was originally written All Things E.

Microsoft’s Golden Globes ads celebrate underdog status

Microsoft’s ads ask us to stand out from the crowd and “Be What’s Next.” OK, but I’m still not using Bing OR your phone.

Amplify’d from

I confess to having a soft spot for much of Microsoft’s recent advertising. Mainly because it bothers to appeal to my soft spot.

The company decided to use the glamour of the Golden Globes ceremony to remind people of their innate love for the underdog. In this case, the struggling, table-waiting, eating-out-of-a-tin actor.

In new ads, we see what appears to be an audition. Actors express their love of their craft, their commitment to it. They end with a different Microsoft brand “precongratulating” the Golden Globes stars of tomorrow and offering the tagline “Be What’s Next.”

The most moving line is offered by an actor who says, “I’d rather fail at this than succeed at doing anything else.”

In showing such vulnerable emotions, Microsoft is, perhaps, trying to help you change your perception that it is this big, nasty monolith with all the warm feelings of a Nordic Genghis Khan.

Perhaps it is reminding you that Windows Phone and Bing are charming underdogs who, one day, with your undying support, could win the Golden Globes of mobile and search.

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Foursquare Positioned To Partner With Google, Yahoo, Bing And Other Search Players

Well, now… this is getting interesting. Seems like the guys from foursquare have found a way to make expand on their business model. By the way, last week, Foursquare reported it had registered over 2 million users for 5.6 million venues on the platform, and around 1 million daily check-ins. The company is valued at around $100 million. So now I wonder, what’s in if for ME to continue to check in? Things that make you go… hmmmm

Foursquare, the location-based social media site, is aware of the value of its data for searches and has started talking to “a lot of different potential partners,” including industry majors such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in order to clinch data deals.


Data Power
Speaking to The Telegraph in an interview, Foursquare’s co-founder, Dennis Crowley, said: “Our data generates hugely interesting trends which would enrich search.” “We can anonymise data and use it to show venues which are trending at that moment,” he explained.
In Talks

“Twitter helped the world and the search engines know what people are talking about. Foursquare would allow people to search for the types of place people are going to – and where is trending – not what,” Crowley added. Recently, the company integrated its data to Twitter ‘Places’, giving the chirpy platform its ticket to paid search.

‘Historical’ Ties
Crowley himself has ties with Google, to whom he sold Foursquare’s text-message version called Dodgeball back in 2005. The Telegraph further quoted him as saying that he now employs “former Googlers.” However, none of the search engines commented on the state of the Foursquare partnership talks.

Ironically, Yahoo had expressed interest in the company in April. But not for teaming up with Foursquare. The intention of the search engine now turned content provider was to buy Foursquare. Now with the Search Alliance integrating Yahoo Search into Bing, who knows if Foursquare will not be dealing with both – one as a content partner and the other as search engine?


The Week In Review

Microsoft has completed an integration with my latest addiction, Foursquare.  Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to get your badges but now you can sync your location with Bing maps… although I don’t know why you would want to.

I’m not sure what the difference will be from what we’re already doing on Foursquare but according to BuzzBox reports are:

You will be able to search any location, and overlay it with a FourSquare “layer.” You will then get icons showing where users in this area have been “checking in.” This effectively shows you what the locals currently consider hot — where the action is right now.

The Wall Street Journal could charge readers $17.99  a month to read the newspaper on Apple’s forthcoming iPad device.  In a news item on Wednesday discussing publishers plans to support the iPad, the Wall Street Journal says the newspaper and the New York Times are currently working with test iPads.

“Six advertisers, including Coca-Cola and FedEx, have agreed to advertise with the Journal, and a four-month ad package costs $400,000,” according to people familiar with the matter quoted by the newspaper. Coke and FedEx however, declined to comment on terms.

“The Journal plans to charge subscribers $17.99 a month for iPad subscriptions, according to a person familiar with the matter,” the newspaper notes.  The iPad could prove a good source of revenue for publishers.


Google pushed hard on China and China pushed back.  Media company Tom Group Led., popular Chinese portal Sina Corp. and online forum have announced plans to stop using Google search on their sites.

Photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press

Security officers tried to stop people from lighting candles outside Google’s Chinese headquarters in Beijing on Tuesday.

China’s intransigence on the flow of information could harm its links to the global economy and sully its image.

Google Faces Fallout as China Reacts to Site Shift


Google’s China operations came under pressure as some content from its uncensored Hong Kong site was blocked.

China’s Internet Giants May Be Stuck There


Post-Google, China’s Internet market could increasingly resemble a lucrative, walled-off bazaar, experts say.


Finally, in case the upcoming Apple iPad isn’t expensive enough, Mervis Diamond Importers recently announced the world’s first diamond studded iPad. The 11.43 carat iPad will sell for $19,999. You can order yours starting June 1.  So if you’d prefer a shiny, blinged out iPad over, say, a new car, you’re in luck.

News Corp. Weighs an Exclusive Alliance With Bing –

I read the story in the New York Times this morning and I was left with my mouth hanging open.  Not only because I can’t imagine any company would seriously go up against the search engine power of Google but because of the major move that is being proposed impacting content online.  I like to joke that Google is all about world domination.  But, to be honest, it’s hard to play the in digital space and NOT deal with Google let alone their monster of a search engine.  I know Microsoft is a major player but I’d bet good money Bing is NOT going win going up against  Google.  Still, you have to give them credit for attempting to make this move and in their attempts to change the way content is provided on the Internet.  Here’s the story….
Published: November 23, 2009

Microsoft has been in early discussions with the News Corporation, the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, about a pact to pay the News Corporation to remove links to its news content from Google’s search engine and display them exclusively on Bing, from Microsoft, according to a person briefed on the matter who spoke anonymously because of the confidential negotiations.

If such an arrangement came to pass, it would be a watershed moment in the history of the Internet, and set off a fierce debate over the future of content online.

The Web’s explosive growth has been driven, in part, by the open playing field it represents for consumers and businesses. These discussions could encourage major technology and media companies to start picking sides — essentially applying the cable TV model to the Web.

A deal on a large scale would create a new set of barriers for users to navigate and would represent an enormous risk for the News Corporation or any news site. More than 65 percent of all search inquiries in the United States are made on Google, and removing links from there would lead to a big drop in traffic. Bing handles 9.9 percent of domestic searches, according to comScore.

Steven A. Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft, said in a recent interview that Google handled about six times as many search queries as Microsoft, and that Google’s search ads generated more revenue per click. But Microsoft executives have been clear about their intentions to pursue bold measures to disrupt Google’s dominant position in the search market.

A broad deal with media companies would be Microsoft’s most drastic measure to date — one in which it would be running a high-stakes experiment against Google, which also has deep pockets.

The development, first reported by The Financial Times, comes as many content providers, including newspapers and other news media companies, are re-evaluating their Web strategy. The expected riches from online advertising have not materialized, and many outlets are considering charging for access to their online content, as some sites, including The Wall Street Journal, owned by the News Corporation, already do.

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