Dec 28, 2009

Its a Kindle Xmas

This Christmas showed that finally Amazon has figured out the perfect product as its Kindle e-Book was the most gifted item ever and as a new Kindle owner I understand why. The device is amazing, easy to use and the ease that I can now get the latest newspapers and magazines makes it an information junkies perfect gift.

On the the peak day of 14th December 2009, Amazon received around 110 items ordered per second, and at no time did I see any hiccups or downtime.  From an e-commerece solution Amazon appears to have got everything in place, including the simplified Kindle store. According to their press release around 99% of items were ordered in time to meet holiday deadlines, and my Kindle was received within days of ordering.

The international version while slightly smaller than the new Kindle DX still makes the device a great size to match paperbacks but large enough that it feels like its not going to break.  The readability on the device as is the complimentary wireless 3G connection which is used to deliver subscriptions and buy books online. 

The lack of diagrams and images included in newspapers does make it faster loading, but does reduce the value of the some of the stories and hopefully Australia will still have some local papers available in the Kindle store. 

The only downside is that it appears much of the websites listed on the device for the basic web browser have been disabled except for Wikipedia. It would have been better to to have removed these bookmarks and I would have never know, but knowing that these have been removed does offer a small let down for such a great product.

So I suggest that if you haven't already got a Amazon Kindle, I suggest giving it a go and you will be in love.

Blogs for Print

One of the growing trends is to profit from successful blogs by turning the previous posts into a book.  One of the best marketed products is Blog2Print who is now buying ad space on the blogger pop-up that is shown when a new post is made.

They are powered by SharedBook and offer the service to Blogger, Typepad and Wordpress hosted blogs.  It is a very interesting way to quickly transfer your blog into a published book with just a couple of clicks, by selecting your cover, posts to include, images and comments.  To capture the fast growing segment of e-books they also offer a pdf version which should allow blog authors to capture both sections of the market. 

The trend towards bloggers making money by selling their successful posts is growing and is not limited to articles and now includes popular images and cartoons.  The observer lists several recent blogs that have been printed by large publishing houses.

Some of the recent publications include:
Pets who want to kill themselves
"Unnecessary quotation marks"
This is why you are fat
Postcards from Yo Mamma
Stuff white people like
Look at this fucking hampster

If you are thinking of writing a book based on your blog or thinking of starting a blog to supplement your income we suggest some of these amazon books might be useful. Problogger is one of the leading internet publishers who has expanded his blog to offer a jobs for bloggers section, which might be a great place to start.

Google Checkout in 2010

Google has announced continued support for members of its Google Grants program by offering free donation processing until 2011. It would have been a great Christmas gift if they extended this offer to all non-profits who can continue to process donations according to Google Checkout's standard fee structure.

Their checkout team did a very interesting experiment about suggested donation amounts. Their conclusion after testing 4 options: blank, $20, $50, $100.

The conclusion was that leaving the suggested donation blank resulted in the greatest donations and the total amount collected. It is all possible to test this with your own website using Google Analytics & Website Optimiser.

Nov 29, 2009

Facebook credit platform expands

One of the suggested methods is a halfway solution which allows developers to choose between third party currency or Facebook currency. This also has long term benefits for companies using Facebook fan pages to promote and potentially sell their products online.

But this halfway solution of mixed credit payment solutions means that the switch to a pure Facebook currency may experience delays and may never reach true scale required to compete with Paypal or Google Checkout to be a true alternative.
While I can see the complex situation that Facebook have with their developers, it is unlikely that the developers would walk away from Facebook as its a successful platform. But the move towards a formal payment platform does require formal relationships between developers and Facebook which should help build formal development partnerships.

Jul 3, 2009

Googland: [G] Google Ad Planner has a new look

Googland: [G] Google Ad Planner has a new look

I count that this planner is already onto its 3rd version within 1 year, which is quite impressive for any website but has the new facelift gone too far?

The initial issue is that this seems to be the same interface that has annoyed many Adwords users because it is slow and unresponsive.

There is some great upgrades in the new interface but it does seem sluggish.

Jul 2, 2009

Inside AdWords: Import your Google Analytics Goals into AdWords and use them with Conversion Optimizer

Inside AdWords: Import your Google Analytics Goals into AdWords and use them with Conversion Optimizer

This is a great upgrade and something people who mostly use google analytics have been requesting for years. The important steps people need to ensure is that they have correctly linked their Adwords/Analytics accounts so they import cost/clicks and you need to ensure you enable data sharing with Google products.

The adwords interface for conversion data is limited so its great when the Adwords team provide more data within Google Analytics.

Jun 28, 2009

Official Google Blog: Google Voice invites on their way

Official Google Blog: Google Voice invites on their way

Google Voice is a smarter way to control your contact numbers, one central contact number no matter if you change job, lose your mobile or move house.

It is still just operating within the USA, but can potentially be quite a good option to having a Skype number and has cool options such as search for your number based on area/zip code and what words or numbers that make up your Google number.

Jun 26, 2009

Reseo Blog: Which Shopping Cart Should I use?

Reseo Blog: Which Shopping Cart Should I use?

Chris mate thank you, great rundown of seo friendly shopping cart solutions. Im strongly against custom carts as they can complicate the process have issues ranking and almost impossible to track with web analytics packages.

GoodBarry is an interesting solution, it looks great and seems to solve a lot of solutions but i find Magento is best for ROI.

May 22, 2009

Sponsored Google Suggest

Official Google Blog: Faster is better on Google Suggest

Is sponsored links pushing the revenue model to far, doesnt this distract from making the search as you type feature easier.

Now just one more place to try and bid to get your clients adwords placed....

Apr 25, 2009

Google Search Appliance contest results are in

Official Google Blog: GSA contest results are in

The Google Search Appliance is one of the most powerful devices a company can have for their network systems. The cost savings, improvements in productivity and potential are unlimited.

Its great to see that medical companies who are moving towards eHealth solutions can continue to increase their level of service with such a device.

If you cant afford a GSA, there are also a number of companies within Australia that offer consulting and customisation services.
Box Bunker

Apr 23, 2009

Google Analytics Blog: Web Analytics Tips & Tricks: Attention Developers: Google Analytics API Launched!

Google Analytics Blog: Web Analytics Tips & Tricks: Attention Developers: Google Analytics API Launched!

The Google Analytics team has finally annouced that the Google Analytics Data Export API is now in public beta and available to all Google Analytics users. It has been one of their most widely anticipated features and a number of GAAC partners have been experimenting with it for close to a year.

So what is all the excitment about? Well the API allows developers to extend Google Analytics to new creative ways that can benefit developers, business and end users. The other advantage is that large organisations and agencies can now have a standardised platform for intergrating their Analytics data with their own business data.

Developers have the flexibility to now integrate Google Analytics data into their existing products or can create standalone applications. Developers can now create custom dashboards or gadgets, also working with individuals and businesses, they have the opportunity to access their Google Analytics data in a variety of new and exciting ways.

Google has listed some customer examples the apps demonstrate only some of the creative possibilities as there are many more interesting ways to use the Analytics API.

Axiom CMS
Axiom CMS is a Web-based content management system built on the Java Axiom Stack open source development framework.

E-retailers use MailChimp's Analytics360 tool to track the ROI of their email marketing campaigns.

Concentrate is an innovative long-tail search analytics tool designed for SEO and paid search professionals who want to make sense of search keyword data and make the most of search investments.

GX WebManager Google Analytics integration
For our web Content Management System, we created a component that utilizes the Google Analytics API and displays the KPIs of pages and documents in the CMS.

Mobile GA
Mobile GA allows you to securely monitor your Google Analytics statistics directly from your mobile phone, using the Google Analytics API.

OnTarget provides full optimization, testing, and improvement cycle recommendations on how to improve goals online and increase conversions from marketing campaigns.

Polaris Desktop Widget
Polaris is a cross-platform Google Analytics widget for the desktop.

ShufflePoint integrates Google Analytics with Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint using a powerful query language (GAQLT) and an intuitive drag-and-drop query builder.

youcalc - On-demand Analytics
youcalc connects to Google Analytics data API to provide custom Aanalytics apps that run in iGoogle, iPhone, intranets, blogs, anywhere! Access and analyze live Google Analytics data without opening Google Analytics.

How does the Data Export API work?

The Data Export API is easy enough to use and provides read-only access to all your Google Analytics data. Any thing that's available through the standard Analytics web interface is available through the Export API. Google use the same API protocol for Google Calendar, Finance and Webmaster Tools. To those developers who have used any of these APIs, the Google Analytics Data Export API will look familiar.

To help with JavaScript & Java programming languages, Google have provided client libraries to abstract & simplify the process. Google have said they are working on expanding this to more programming languages. Any programming language can now make requests directly to the API over HTTP and access the data in XML.

How do I get started using the Data Export API?

Three key resources you'll want to use when you start developing on top of the Google Analytics API

1) The documentation you need can be found on our Developer site at Google Code

2) Sign up for the Google Analytics API Notify email group so you get the key announcements on feature updates, code changes and other service related news that relate to the API

3) Become a part of the Google Analytics developer community by joining the Google Analytics APIs Group.

Feb 13, 2009

Twitter as a brand extension

I was writing a response to an recent blog post by @Problogger about making negative comments about him between two twitter users. You can read the original post here > Twitter Tips

I must admit that some of the statements i have made in the past month on twitter would have caused an employer to have a fit, Ive had smart responses to a recent marketing decision around a particular software that was re tweeted aggressively within my network... but they aren't attacking an individual and are subjective views that seem to be supported by other bloggers...

I guess the advantage of this blog and my twitter accounts is that this is my own business/brand and the appeal of my agency, I'm not a cashmere suit faceless ponytail agency. Truth is i might look good in a monkey suit and a pony tail, but it just takes too long...

I have been building my twitter network around a concept of sharing knowledge and placing my spin on particular articles that I feed into my networks. has been built on doing that bit more and taking the chair out to see a competitor fall.

If there are people who can compete against billion dollar agencies where they have dozens of sales/tech support reps just based on their knowledge and focus on the customer service, they should be allowed to put the boot in.

I think that a little cheek should be something that should be encouraged, if i wanted to be boring i wouldn't have picked a such a tongue-in-cheek name. So if anyone is looking to get found online please contact my agency for a good chat about your web strategies.

Jan 30, 2009

lets get rid of performance based marketing...

FutureNow released a new post related to the Internet Advertising Bureau, read the original and this is my response to it.

Im sorry but this sounds like a bunch of rambling on a friday night at the pub, lets go spend $4 million on a 30 second ad for superbowl so we can get a corporate box at the game... im sorry that profit margins are down in large agencies but anyone who is planning on surviving the next few tough years are moving their old media clients online at least a percentage of spend. when was the last time you picked up a newspaper head line and went to that store gave them the newspaper as proof that the was the sole reason you went there!

web analytics allows you to track most of this and engagement marketing can also tell you how often your customer had to read the headline and how many so called unsuccessful viral videos they had to watch before their purchased something.

Can your offline media measure time wasters vs high value sales, im sorry but no!

Want a unsuccessful campaign look at blendtec and its "will it blend campaign" if thats not an example of succesful viral campaigns i will go out and sell newspapers on the street corner to help your old media clients get some exposure!

Go on try it, google "will it blend" and see the close to 45 million pages google has dedicated to that term, its not a generic term so its purely original and purely marketing!

the dotcom bust showed that companies who didnt work with performance based marketing lost their investors money and went broke!

if im not measuring my clients campaigns in some way im not doing my job, performance based is the only way that you can ensure your agency is doing something!

Jan 23, 2009

re: Reply to Blog about Pony Tail Men

wow! nice post from Tim Longhurst, he talks about his experience with Pony-Tail people and his views of viral campaigns. He is offered a paid gig to speak with the agency about the Coke Zero campaign but turns it down on principal. This is my reply to the article.

I thought maybe the chance to speak with their team could have allowed you the chance to explain the rationale behind being client centric not central to world...

im agreeing with @Dan it was a PR stunt but they sure got value for the client now everyone is wondering about those jackets and next time they are shopping for a men's jacket they will just ask the salesperson what is that brand that was featured with that girl from the youtube video and there you have it a successful campaign. Its not something where you had to remember the brand just make the campaign memorable enough. I think the PR done around this campaign was the best element, in under 2 weeks it has had 170,000+ views on youtube. Not to mention im sure there will be spoof clips that will soon appear, man in the prada dress, man in the gucci handbag...

think about since VB launched VB Gold, who sponsors the Beach Cricket. Now don't google it think about it... ok so the colour scheme is similar... keep thinking.. well its XXXX Gold, but when you are at the shops and you see vb gold you may just grab that because of the colour assocation. This is a successful for VB but bad for Gold. If you went and asked about the ad about the beer and the island with the dog, they would know that you are talking about XXXX Gold.

Corporate Social Programs

1. Blogs (Johnson & Johnson, Delta Air Lines)
2. Bookmarking/Tagging (Adobe, Kodak)
3. Brand monitoring (Dell, MINI)
4. Content aggregation (Alltop, EMC)
5. Crowdsourcing/Voting (Oracle, Starbucks)
6. Discussion boards and forums (IBM, Mountain Dew)
7. Events and meetups (Molson, Pampers)
8. Mashups (Fidelity Investments, Nike)
9. Microblogging (method, Whole Foods)
10. Online video (Eukanuba, Home Depot)
11. Organization and staffing (Ford, Pepsi)
12. Outreach programs (Nokia, Yum Brands)
13. Photosharing (Rubbermaid, UK Government)
14. Podcasting (Ericsson, McDonalds)
15. Presentation sharing (CapGemini, Daimler AG)
16. Public Relations - social media releases (Avon, Intel)
17. Ratings and reviews (Loblaws, TurboTax)
18. Social networks: applications, fan pages, groups, and personalities (British Airways, Saturn)
19. Sponsorships (Coca-Cola, Whirlpool)
20. Virtual worlds (National Geographic, Toyota)
21. Widgets (Southwest Airlines, Target)
22. Wikis (Second Life, T-Mobile Sidekick)

We would like to thank Slice media for bringing this awesome list to our attention, and thank you to the team @ Mashable for their Social Media Marketing Plan. It seemed so cool, that Im going to print it and stick it up in my office for reference.

Jan 19, 2009

Live Hotmail finally gets free POP3 support

In a long-overdue move to catch up with Gmail, Microsoft has begun rolling out free POP3 support to Windows Live Hotmail users in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Japan, Spain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. They advise that more countries will be coming soon, based on their past releases those who speak english or their staff can find on a map.

The much requested POP3 feature was only previously available for an extra $19.95 per year as part of their overpriced Windows Live Hotmail Plus. The issue was that many other email services offered POP3 support for free!

It's been in speculation on blogs for a while that Microsoft had planned to offer POP3 access to all users. Well crack open your cans of redbull that day has finally arrived just in time for a large scale rollout of Google Apps Premier Edition.

Another amazing feature is a "Quick Add" moveable sidebar, that enables users to quick search for maps or addresses. Firefox users also have that feature when they highlight a word and right click and "search google for...." These kind of features often seem to be too slow too late, as many people continue to adopt Gmail addresses over the previously cool

Google's Apps Road Ahead: Positive & Negative

Google Apps Premier Edition reseller program is Google global attempt to build a dynamic channel capable of taking down Microsoft unrivaled army of more than 100,000 channel partners in America and hundreds of thousands around the world pitching the Microsoft Office suite.

So the question is around all the hype about the launch for GAPE reseller program, how to compete with the millions that Microsoft has in its slush fund? Money is thrown at suppliers to help with market development, joint marketing programs are developed and teams of technical and sales support staff help you along the course. Microsoft still outspends Google at every step, and this is something that is proven to keep its cash draws ringing with their reseller partners.

Ok so Microsoft can be thought of as the Granddad of the software reseller channel, and they have poured billions over just the past few years into supporting this model. They have even held back products such as Office Live to ensure their partners dont get cold feet and leave!

Bill Gates ensured plenty of channel investment was in place to support their aggressive channel programs, as they understand failure at any point in the channel could cost sales.

Google is probably the worlds best direct marketing company, they have just a handful of partners under its Google Adwords Reseller, Company & Professional program. They have their Website Optimiser Technology Partners, Google Analytics Authorised Consultants & Seminars for Success providers.

Google does have deep pockets, but little support across the channel with most power held by product managers and directors. Google does have amazing technical support and very deep pockets with system such as Adwords in place to drive the sales channel. But with estimates such as over 85% of the Google Apps traffic being driven by Adwords campaigns, is the option for GAPE resellers too expensive online?

So Google Apps sits in the Enterprise team, that is just one step from their Adwords team, so does that mean the joint marketing programs will be easier to administer or will it mean taking from peter to pay paul? Google has massive potential to drive sales to its channel partners, but what happens when some partners dont pick up the leads or customers buy direct from Google?

Im sure that Stephen Cho will do a great job, since the channel is also a new concept to the company, but there will be questions from many companies considering accepting GAPE just to get more leads from Google.

Ok so Google Apps with a full channel is still a small market on their company revenue chart but given the $60 billion in annual sales that it will slowly cut from Microsoft, it looks worth the effort.

Google's enterprise group is maybe not the perfect location for Google Apps, as the software is yet to be fully intergrated with its Search Appliance business. Google Apps only got access to Google Analytics late last year. So will Google enable their Google Apps customers to closer intergrate solutions such as Google Mini into their Google Sites to bring the solution closer to SharePoint?

With all those points in mind, Scott Campbell of ChannelWeb listed a number of positive and negative points about Google Apps Premier Edition reseller program.

The Positive Facts

1. Outstanding Technology And A Great Product
By nearly all solution provider accounts, Google Apps is a robust, yet simple, platform that is easy to deploy in both small businesses and enterprises. And it's scalable enough to support a company's growing needs. Google has done a great job fielding a full-function cloud computing Office productivity suite. Microsoft has clearly held back here in a bid to keep the standard Office productivity suite as a cash cow.

As it stands now, Microsoft is not set to offer Office Web Applications -- lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote accessible through Web browsers -- until the next version of Office, which is due sometime in early 2010.

2. The Google Brand
Google has developed great brand in the Web 2.0 world. It is the leader in providing the undisputed best search technology in the world for the Internet. It's hard to bet against a company whose name has become a verb. No one's ever said, "Yeah, let me Office it to you." Google, of course, is attempting to leverage that brand with a Google-authorized reseller logo program.

3. Get Googled
Google plans to include a reseller listing on the Google Apps site, allowing potential customers to find you before you can find them. In the age of Internet searching, that's a plus for solution providers looking for new business.

4. Recurring Revenue
Recurring revenue is the word for the 21st century VAR. That's why managed services are hot. Businesses want monthly, predictable subscription billing for all their technology needs, not just Internet and cell phone services. Granted, no one is going to get rich from the $10 profit on a $50-per-user annual fee on Google Apps Premier edition. But, once again, predictable recurring revenue is king and this is a way to get there.

Remember this full cloud computing office productivity suite segment is an area where Microsoft is, to some degree, sitting out until 2010. Bad move, Microsoft.

5. Services Opportunity
You won't get rich selling the Google Apps software, but make no mistake about it, there is a lot of money to be made setting up the cloud and managing a secure end-to-end, cloud computing environment for customers. Consider that solution provider margins on the standard Microsoft Office productivity suite are also negligible. Services is where it's at. Services. Services. Services.

The Negative Points

1. Low Channel IQ
Nothing against Stephen Cho, the Google executive charged with leading the Google Apps channel program, but starting a reseller program from scratch is not easy. Expect some growing pains as Google learns what solution providers need.

Google does not appear to have assembled a channel-savvy team as it takes the reseller plunge. Not a good sign when it is looking to build a channel of tens of thousands of partners to go up against Microsoft. Google's hubris is not something that channel partners are going to appreciate. Some signs of the low Google channel IQ: The search giant has not assembled a partner advisory board, partner conference or regional road shows.

2. No Deal Registration
Google expects solution providers to add their own value to entice customers, but watch your back for someone willing to grab the deal at the last second. Not a good sign given that we're talking about a $10 margin on a $50 annual subscription fee.

If CDW and some of the other reseller giants get into the game then expect what is likely to be an untenable situation for solution providers trying to get off the ground with Google. They're spending a lot of time selling, only to have the rug pulled out from under them at the last minute by either a big player, another partner, or even Google itself jumping in and giving the product away for the services opportunity.

3. A No Tier Channel Program
One of the best ways to grow stronger, more loyal partners, is to feed leads to your best and your brightest. Because Google doesn't know who those companies are yet, some leads may fall to inferior partners. Most vendors have tiered channel relationships for this reason. The more you invest as a partner, the greater your reward.

4. Negative Cash Flow
Google expects to be paid in full for a year-long subscription up front, even if the VAR decides to charge customers monthly or quarterly. With more end users opting for a bill spread over a longer period of time, solution providers must weigh charging in full up front, or ensuring they have the right cash flow to float the business throughout the year until they recoup all the costs.

5. No Distributor Participation
Google expects to significantly increase its number of solution providers in 2009, but it's missing the boat by not leveraging distribution to do this. For one, distributors have long earned VARs' trust, which eliminates concerns about channel conflict with Google's direct sales force. Google already has relationships with distributors for its Search Appliance. Why not expand those relationships?

Google changes recruiting

As a consultant the changes in the economy, some people tried to put the fear into consultants by saying they might not be kept if the market continues to drop. The statement by Google today showed that they can still be a company that takes care with their staff, with stories in the press about companies like Mac Bank, holding lavish christmas parties and then sacking 1000 staff. It is refreshing to see a letter posted on the company blogs, rather than trying to hide the fact that the economy has changed.

Official Google Blog: Changes to recruiting

Jan 17, 2009

Official Google Blog: Network effects: Introducing the Google Apps Authorized Reseller Program

Official Google Blog: Network effects: Introducing the Google Apps Authorized Reseller Program

Google is pushing ahead with its plans to move more business onto its Google Apps platform, my only concern is of the 50 pilot companies who have signed up now have their business model shaken up. These pilot companies and anyone else who signs up have their entire business model and details about their costs splashed across the net.

Im in favour of more companies promoting and supporting Google Apps, but i would have thought that Google would be a little more discreet about keeping its partners profit margins confidential.

Jan 16, 2009

Google Apps limitations

This site had an image of 1 billion dollars and have registered around 261 Diggs with the image hosted on but the issue was that Google Sites was displaying this text.

"We are sorry, but this site has exceeded its bandwidth limit at this time. Please try again later. For more information, see Google Sites help."

This shows the issues with SaaS and how any issues or errors are very visible and often not explained correctly. It is likely that they are using the free Google Apps suite, but a link such as why not upgrade to Google Apps Premier Edition and never see this error again...

The worry is that this Digg stories combined with their recent push into Promoting their Google Apps Premier Edition to their Reseller partners can produce distrust for their products. SaaS news did a short article on the renewed push by Google to beat IBM, Yahoo & Microsoft in the online market.

With more than 1 million business customers using Google Apps, Google decides it's time to broaden its cloud computing ecosystem by letting other businesses resell its Google Apps Premier Edition suite of messaging and collaboration applications. Now vendors will be able to resell GAPE for $40 per user, a 20 percent discount from Google's $50 per-user, per-year fee. GAPE includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sites and other apps.

A clarification, im using Google Apps Premier Edition and its one of the best SaaS solutions that I found in the market, its worth the $50/year just for the enterprise Gmail featured with 99.99% SLA on uptime.

Jan 6, 2009

Do Sitemaps Affect Crawlers?

What’s the effect when you submit a Sitemap on the site. Read the original article on SEOmoz.

My view is that if you have a very active blog, with 2-5 new articles posted each monday every week, every month..., google bot's seem to understand this pattern and will often reward you with regular visits. My clients blog recently set a personal record with its spiders hitting around 55 seconds after a post, and would come back and trawl related old articles in the following days.

The interesting thing about this spider hit that was that the blog wasnt a massive traffic magnet for the client, but seem to always have consistent slow growth in visitors. Any visitor spikes often matched these crazy monday posts, but if you posted 5 articles or 3 articles they had around the same % growth against the average daily visits.

The blog was setup with, installed on the server and the Google sitemap XML plugin was installed. It is a very important point, that if you have proper sitemaps setup, google loves you and can reward your blog with visitors.

Other ideas to help your blog are to tweak elements of the article once it has been trawled by the spider, to get a new hit, change the title, maybe add a relevant image or two and a tweak a few paragraphs. And see how the spider responds to the update, why do you think news websites put out basic outline and slowly provide updates as the story progresses they understand they people/spiders will return and may even pickup old articles and post them to the frontpage of Google News....