SMB PPC Ad Spend Drop

Noa Gertin of Palore has recently completed some interesting research on SMB PPC ad spends. They looked at over 3000 SMBs who advertise online, on different websites, out of which they focused on 300 businesses who also advertised on search engines in the past 5 months. They filtered out nationwide chains and all SMBs with more than one office location and only looked at PPC advertising, not longer term advertising commitments. That not withstanding, the drop is significant.

Average Monthly Search Engine Ad spend

Their methodology does not allow one to extrapolate all SMB spending in all internet mediums but gives an idea of the rapid contraction in a certain sector of the advertising economy amongst a clientele (the one store operation) that can make these quick decisions. I would love to see a plot comparing these 300 with the other 2700 businesses that were surveyed to see the difference.

Google Maps: MyMaps Missing In Action – Google remains Quiet

Updated 12/10/2008 7:00 AM:Last night, Lior of the My Maps Team posted below that the problem has been fixed. Maps Guide Adam noted it as well yesterday mid afternoon. There was a sigh of relief in the groups that was audible even in western New York.

Today in the Google Maps Troubleshooting Group there were numerous complaints about serious problems with lost MyMaps.

Here is a sampling from today’s topics:

* Map missing ?? – 2 messages, 2 authors
* Problem Updating and Editing in My Maps – 2 messages, 2 authors
* My map has disappeared. HELP! – 3 messages, 3 authors
* TO GOOGLE MAPS — PLEASE UPDATE US ON THE VANISHING OF OUR WORK
* PLEASE HELP – MANY MONTHS OF WORK SEEM LOST – 2 messages, 2 authors
* Saved map gone! – 5 messages, 5 authors
* My Maps – Data Missing From My Custom Map – 1 messages, 1 author
* Google maps I created have disappeared – help! – 1 messages, 1 author
* My push pins went missing and I cannot save new ones! – 3 messages, 2 authors
* Sorry, we’re having technical difficulties. (Error code 22) – 1 messages, 1 author
* Any update on lost work?! – 1 messages, 1 author
* My Map data has disappeared – 1 messages, 1 author
* HELP! My custom Map Won’t Load – 1 messages, 1 author

Lots of folks have committed a great deal of work to Google MyMaps and now their work seems to be missing. The lack of communication from Google is leading to a strong sense of despair amongst MyMaps users. For a large, smart company, Google can act awfully dumb sometimes, particularly when confronted with this sort of PR problem. The problem was best summed up in this plaintive post:

===================================
TOPIC: PLEASE HELP – MANY MONTHS OF WORK SEEM LOST
===================================
Continue reading

Local Links of Interest

Google Maps Doubles Streetview Coverage – Google Lat Long Blog

we’re doubling the amount of coverage in the United States. This will bring Street View to some new cities, like Memphis, Birmingham, and Charleston (SC), and also to a few states for the first time, like Maine, West Virginia, North Dakota, and South Dakota. 

Google Local Business Referrals is Shutting Down – Matt McGee, Small Business Search Marketing

16 months after its launch, the Google Local Business Referralsprogram is shutting down. Google will close the program at the end of this month.

Google Profile Information and Partner Content Providers: Should there be Disclosure? -Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea

A recently published patent application from Google explores how location information, and other information associated with a mobile device, or a desktop computer could be collected as “profile information” about a searcher, and could be used to present a searcher with search results specifically tailored for them.

MIT Mobile Web – MIT

Take a look at mobile done right. The MIT Mobile Web offers up-to-date information, optimized for different types of mobile devices. Find people, places, events, course news, shuttle schedules, and more. 

AT&T Hopes for Single Smartphone OS (PC World) –
PC World

This was reported quite widely last week and the implications are interesting. This doesn’t affect devices like the iPhone or the Blackberry using AT&T’s network. It applies to which OS is on AT&T’s branded phones and essentially pits Microsoft Mobile against Google Android and the now free Symbian OS from Nokia. It makes sense that they would want to support just one OS internally for both design and customer support issues. Since ATT has such large market share in the US, a decision could significantly impact the long term efforts of each of these three to be a significant force in US handset sales. Which do you think they will pick and why?

Local Search: How not to succeed in business without really trying

Update 12/10/08 10:00 am: Google has apparently removed 7098 of these bogus listings. But for reasons beyond my comprehension there are still a few left in the index.

Update 12/10/08 7:00 pm: Google has apparently removed all of these listings.

PromoterLocal.com appears to be a local search firm like many others. They offer a Google Maps listing service for $49.95/mo with a one time setup charge of $249.95. Unlike some local search firms, PromoteLocal is so confident of their skills that they proclaim: “Don’t Just Get Listed, Dominate Your Competition With: First page placement in the Google Local Listings every time!, New SEO technology used only by PromoterLocal“. Elsewhere on their site they guarantee first place listings.

Their website doesn’t happen to list their address. Whois indicates that they are located in Orem, UT. In today’s Google Maps for Business Owner Group they were reported to be spamming in Sunnyvale and in Fairfax.

Google Maps seems to think that they possess somewhere on the order of 7,107 locations across the United States with over 400 in the NYC area alone and with business names like “Always On Top Marketing Houston” and “Advertise Real Estate” in Bowling Green.

Perhaps it is a generational thing or a lack of vision on my part, but why would a company predicate a business strategy on such a thin “advantage? I can understand getting laid off by a large corporation. I can’t understand laying off yourself when your lame business idea is found out. Why put any effort into such a short term process? Is the cash really that good?

Putting the Google back in Christmas

Google has decided to, well… put Google back into Christmas. Maps Guide Jade posted in the Google Maps support groups announcing Google Map’s “collection of Google Maps Holiday Solutions to help get you through the holidays with ease”.

After having just returned from a visit with my in-laws I got a particular chuckle from the idea I might want to “find the best restaurant in town to impress your in-laws”.

In our neck of the woods, Christians take out billboards suggesting that Christ be put back in Christmas (despite the historical irony that Christians didn’t actually start this particular seasonal holiday). Given Google’s new financial realities, perhaps Google should target them and suggest an adwords campaign instead of the billboard?

Local Links of Interest

Adwords Appearing for Competitors in Embedded Maps – Martijn Beijk, martijnbeijk.com

Martijn points out that embedded Google Maps on your website could very well now include Adword ads to your competitor’s website. I presume that this is part of Google effort to push more ads out of late but their appearance on embedded Maps seems inappropriate.

In Lean Times, Online Coupons Are Catching On – Claire Miller, NY Times

Have on-line coupons finally caught on? The NY Times seems to think so. I wonder if Google ever will.

Write a Bad Review … Get Sued – Matt McGee, smallbusinesssem.com

Consumerist today tells the story of Chris Norberg, a guy who left a negative review on Yelp about Dr. Steven Biegel, a chiropractor in San Francisco.

It looks like Norberg deleted his negative review from Yelp after getting some kind of cease and desist letter from Biegel’s attorney, but Norberg did leave this review/comment on Biegel’s business listing summarizing some of his complaints and explaining why the original review is gone.

Google Maps Redesign allows easier reporting of inappropriate Streetviews

The recent StreetView upgrade to Google Maps to more closely resemble the functionality of Streetview on the iPhone, has also improved the ability to report inappropriate Streetview scenes. In the Google Support Groups for Maps, the invasive StreetView scenes were a common complaint.

The link from StreetView takes the user to an interactive form that allows for a detailed complaint to be filed and a precise location in StreetView to be identified:

Privacy concerns with StreetView have been common and at least one German city has claimed that they will deny Google permission to take StreetView images. I wonder if this improved complaint capability is a (minimal) response to these concerns?

The form expands and allows selection of a number of specific concerns related to the above categories:
Continue reading

Google Updates Google Maps API TOS to calm the storm in Great Britain?

With Google’s last upgrade to the API TOS on November 12th, a storm of protest and complaint was unleashed in Great Britain. The Ordnance Survey had essentially pulled all of their publicly available data from use with Google Maps due to the TOS and the Guardian and BBC jumped into the fray on each side of the fray. Some API developers suggested the need to pull down their Mashups.

Google has released a new Maps API TOS this evening that appears to deal with the problems. Here is Google’s take from the Google Geo Developer Blog:

That format change appears to have called attention to the “License From You to Google” – section 11 in the November 12th update. That content license has always been part of the Google Maps API Terms of Service, because it is contained in the Google Terms of Service. Both the original and the November 12th updated Terms of Service relied on that provision to ensure Google received a sufficient content license to provide the Maps API service and to promote the service, including by highlighting excellent mashups as we did here. That section does not provide Google a license to all of the content on your Maps API site to use for any purpose, nor is that how we have treated the content from existing Maps API sites that were developed under the terms that existed prior to the November 12th update. Section 11(b), which we initially included in the November 12th update, created a lot of confusion among our API developers who are publishing licensed content. In 11(b) we were trying to be clear that we wanted a broader license from Maps API developers for use of business listings information. However, given the confusion that resulted, we removed that language from today’s revision of the terms.

Here is the new section 11:

11.1 Content License. Google claims no ownership over Your Content, and You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Your Content. By submitting, posting or displaying Your Content in the Service, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute Your Content through the Service and as search results through Google Services. This license is solely for the purpose of enabling Google to operate the Service, to promote the Service (including through public presentations), and to index and serve such content as search results through Google Services. If you are unable or unwilling to provide such a license to Your Content, please see the FAQ for information on configuring your Maps API Implementation to opt out.

11.2 Brand Features License. You grant to Google a nontransferable, nonexclusive license during the Term to use Your Brand Features to advertise that you are using the Service.

11.3 Authority to Grant Licenses. You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licenses.

It seems to clearly delineate that Google DOES NOT HAVE a perpetual license to the data and should, if I understand the bulk of the conflict, ease the Ordnance Survey’s concerns. That being said it still requires that map creator have a license to the content. Barry Hunter of nearby.org.uk and a map developer, noted to me in an email that it doesn’t solve his problems with the Nov 12 update:

My initial reaction is – good but not far enough. It might quell the OS’es issue with it – not sure. But pretty sure it doesnt quell mine.

The main issue to me (and perhaps the Os) is that Google wants a specific licence to the content – I am still unable to give that in the case of the mashups on nearby.org.uk and geograph.org.uk . Its not my data so how do i give google a licence to it?

Although the wording does more specifically say *your content* which might be a get out, if i dot have any content of my own – its all third party – then I dont give a licence to it.

From where I sit, this last issues of guaranteeing to Google that you have the license is a CYA tactic on their part to avoid YouTube like lawsuits as it allows Google to push any copyright issues back down to the Map developer.

MapQuest: “We’ve Come Out Of Hibernation”

I have recently had an extensive interview with Mark Law, VP of Development & Mark Law, Vice President of Product Development and Christian Dwyer, Senior Vice President & General Manager, at MapQuest, Inc, It is now published at SearchEngineLand: MapQuest: “We’ve Come Out Of Hibernation”

Mapquest, the long time leader in mapping has been on a recent upgrade warpath as it were. They have added a number of new features all the while attempting to keep their very loyal user base happy. Do they have what it takes to make it a competitive race in Maps and Local? Let me know what you think.

Developing Knowledge about Local Search