Microsoft-Yahoo!: Consolidation in the Search Business

The long-delayed partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo! is now a reality and this could mean one thing: it’s now a virtual two-man race in the search business.

This partnership between the two online giants would now have approximately 30% of the search engine market. The Microsoft-Yahoo two-headed monster is now pitting itself against the dominant force in the field– Google.

It’s pretty clear from the deal what both parties are getting: Microsoft is trying its darned best to make a dent in Google’s search business and Yahoo is in need of a big jolt to make up for its recent misfortunes (The company took a beating since rejecting Microsoft’s acquisitionn bid last year). Yahoo! Search will be powered by Bing and the company will be selling ads for the Redmond-based Microsoft.

From the customer point of view, it’s not much of a difference as Yahoo has never been known as a search company but a content-oriented company. Placing “Powered by Microsoft Bing” on the search pages will have little effect on the user experience as both Yahoo and Bing have emulated the look and feel of Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs).

If you ask me, Search Engine Optimization folks are probably the most affected by this development. Reducing the Google-Yahoo-Bing trinity into a Google-versus-Bing means less sites to optimize for, and this could result in easier work and fewer projects.

Identity Theft in Blog Comment Spam

Sheesh! 😡

It looks like that the blog comment spammers are doing  more extensive social engineering.

Their new M.O.: blog comment spammers use names of people who comment frequently in the blog and try to appear as those people. (This seems to happen only in WordPress, as my other blogs have yet to experience this attack.)

The blogger, who would conviently use the comment moderation facility in the WordPress dashboard,  would approve the comment thinking that the commenter is someone who as engaged him/her in a past online conversation in the past. What the blogger doesn’t know is that the commenter is actually a spammer.

In my case, for the last couple of weeks, this went unnoticed– I relied on the comment moderation dashboard but then I was unwittingly approving spam from “Ia” “Eugene,” and “Tess Termulo.” It was hard to discern because the comments looked like real comments!

What raised my alarm is the sudden “enthusiasm” of my blogger friends in commenting in my blog. When I investigated at the detailed comments page in WordPress, I was surprised as the URL’s and emails of the commenters were obviously spammy.

Spammers are becoming craftier and the comments don’t look that intelligible (as they would be caught by Akismet). So I suggest bloggers to be more vigilant in filtering spam and use the detailed comments page in WordPress to avoid these attacks.

form function & class Web Design Conference All Set!

After several months of preparation, planning and the occasional frustration, the form function & class Web Design Conference is all set on July 10, 2009 at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

Just a few more reminders to those who will be attending the event:

  • Payment – Early payment can be done at the AIM Marketing office (3rd floor). Look for Ms. Mel Solomon for the payment of cash or check (payable to the Philippine Web Designers Organization). Online and bankd deposit options are available. Please visit the confirmation site for more information on the payment schemes.
  • Lunch – Many people have been asking, so here’s a clarification: lunch will be served at the event.
  • Adobe CS4 Raffle – Only those who have registered at the Adobe User Group – Philippines Adobe Groups site and present at the event are the ones eligible. The cut-off for membership is at 12nn on July 10, 2009. The final list of entries will be based on the people who are physically present in the event.
  • Google AdWords vouchers – Only the first 100 non-student registrants will get a Google AdWords voucher. We will have different registration tables for those who have reserved & paid/not paid and walk-ins. We have developed a system to give everyone a fair chance to get a Google AdWords voucher, regardless if you have paid or not.
  • Additional Slots – We initially booked the event to have 400 slots, but dur to the demand, we have increased it by 50. Still, folks who would like to come must reserve a slot at the confirmation site.

For more information on the event, feel free to email me or post a comment on this blog post. 🙂

iBlog5 Thoughts

Last May 9, the University of the Philippines Internet and Society Program (UP ISP) held the fifth Philippine Blogging Summit iBlog event (or iBlog5). For the last five years, iBlog events has been  putting the issues of new and experienced bloggers forward– from talks about hot to start a blog to more advanced topics such as making money online, the legal aspect of blogging, and blogging’s cultural effects, iBlog has been a good information resource and learning ground for bloggers.

But for me, iBlog means something different. To be honest, I wouldn’t have come to iBlog because of the talks and the speakers (make no mistake, a lof of the speakers are really very good and friends of mine) only. I went there for one thing: fellowship. Despite staying on the event for short period of time, I got to meet friends, reconnected with old friends, and met some new folks. 😀

I feel really great that such an event can get bloggers together. With blogger events getting smaller and smaller (due to the focus and targeting of companies, and more independent blogger event organizers coming out), this event is a throwback to the time when blogger events mean more than 40 people who had a blog get together. 😛

If rock had its Woodstock Festival, independent film has its annual Sundance Film Festival, the Philippine blogging scene has iBlog. (Yeah, I’m going out on a limb to say that. :P)

Some rough pics I took:

Updated links (Thanks to Janette!):

When should you hold Blogger Events?

Imagine you’re the brand/product/marketing manager of a company and you’re evaluating your marketing mix for promotional activities. You’ve been hearing about blog marketing and blogger events as a good vehicle for marketing, but you’ve never gone about blog marketing and you want to try it out. So where do you start?

This blog post hopes to help you answer your questions.

I’ve done reserch, taught, and had practical experience on internet marketing at the Asian Institute of Management and based on my learnings, if you’re a company that’s trying to do blog marketing and blogger events, it starts with your objectives and what you want to achieve.

Most of the time, internet marketing campaigns have these objectives:

  1. Inform people & create awareness
  2. Strengthen the  brand
  3. Get customer leads
  4. Generate Sales

In my opinion, blog marketing (via blogger events) can be very effective on the first two items.  Let’s take a look at them.

When you hold a blogger event, you as a company hope that the event will impress the bloggers enough to be compelled to share his/her experiences in the event. If the event accomplishes that, then a blog post immediate will follow. By this mere blog post, your company would have reached the readers of that particular blogger. This is where the blogger’s traffic come is very handy– the more site visitors the site has, the more your company would have reached. Your primary metric here would be page views and visits.

But there is a drawback. For me, awareness is the lowest level of marketing success since chances of the readers actually purchasing the company’s product/service is quite low. People only know about the existence of the product/service– how it be of value to them is still not established.

Now, if your company wants to strengthen its brand via blog marketing, that’s a different story.

If you ask me, when you strengthen your brand, you want to communicate the brand’s personality and (hopefully) the positive associations with it. This is the time that as a marketing manager, you will have to carefully choose which blogs you deal with. Since your goal is to create a mindset for your customers, you want to choose bloggers that will strengthen the positive associations (happiness, coolness, etc.) with your product/service.

A simple example: Suppose you’re a brand manager for Coca-Cola, one of the top brands of the world. Like  most fast moving consumer goods, a bulk of Coca-cola’s sales are in retail. So how would it leverage on blog marketing and blogger events? Coca-cola may locally launch a blogger event related to a marketing campaign and invite bloggers who may fit the company’s target market or bloggers who passionately write about the topic (food bloggers or fashion bloggers for example). Your metric goes beyond the page views and visits– reactions, social network shares, and even negative comments may be your metrics.

Because of the focus of these bloggers, the company will reach a smaller amount of people, but these people may be more relevant to the company’s product of service. I a firm believer that relevance  is directly proportional to the probability of purchase.

To summarize my points:

  1. A company who wishes to engage bloggers should look at the campaigns objectives first. This will serve as the blueprint for the blogger event.
  2. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with engaging bloggers, regardless of their topic, if you just want to create awareness or inform the general public.
  3. If companies want to strengthen their brand, carefully choosing bloggers to create the positive associations with the product or service is the way to go. This may result in reaching a fewer, but more relevant group of people.

Like many other activities, Blogger events may be a good “below the line” marketing activity for companies of done right.

My GeoCities Story

Geocities Old Logo

A couple of days ago, Yahoo announced GeoCities will shut down and I felt I had to write a short tribute about the web hosting service that, in my opinion, contributed much to what the web is now.

It was 1999, I was a college student and we just had a dial-up internet service installed in our house. I started to use the web extensively the year before and I was just thrilled to surf the web in our home pc. The sound of the 56KB modem dialing and making that handshake was like music to my ears.

As I was falling in love with the web, I wondered how to get on it, you know, get a stake on cyberspace. (Aside: who still uses the term “cyberspace” these days?)  I discovered HTML, used tables for layout (yes, I was guilty of this), and learned to build pages using Netscape Composer. I was also spurred to learn graphic design software, like Adobe Photoshop, and any other shareware graphic application just to get my darned header to look perfrect. My web page’s title? “Regnard’s Home Page” (yikes!) and the first content I wrote were a welcome message and a “Top Ten” list about the internet.

I searched in my then favorite portal, Yahoo, how to get my pages on the web and I found free services GeoCities, Tripod, Angelfire, and TopCities. That was when I learned about web hosting, how web pages were served on the web, and file management for websites. I eventually selected GeoCities because it was the popular service then and I was happy with my 2MB web space. I uploaded “Regnard’s Home Page” in GeoCities and, like Neil Armstrong planting a flag on the moon, I claimed my stake on the web. Imagine that little joy I felt as I saw my own work actually on the web.

That was 10 years ago and much has changed on the web and my web skills. And like the abacus, the rotary dial phones, and the casette tape, GeoCities was left abandoned as users wanted a better platform, less interruptive or no advertisements, and an easier way to share their thoughts encoded on HTML. I think GeoCities’ business model was doomed to obsolescence because people were unwilling to pay for a service that was offered better and free in other platforms. (Another Aside: don’t you feel much older when technologies or services you used to enjoy are becoming obsolete?)

I’ll know that 2009 is the year GeoCities ended. But I’ll also remember that 10 years ago, it all started for me in GeoCities.

Working With Bloggers, The Right Way

Last April 15, 2009, the Winning Internet Marketing Strategies & Tactics course at the Asian Institute of Management had a Bloggers’ Round Table Discussion to help managers and media strategists understand the blogging phenomenon and Philippine bloggers.

We invited several bloggers to share their insights and I was very delighted that the following bloggers heeded the call:

 

 

The discussions centered bloggers sharing their thoughts on the blogging community and the business folks asking queries about working with bloggers on promotions, events, and marketing activities.

We had a very rich discourse and some of the points that emerged were:

 

  1. Bloggers are diverse: We come in all shapes & sizes, and different backgrounds, interests & motivations
  2. Despite the diversity, bloggers have one big thing in common: passion
  3. Bloggers follow a personal code of ethics (e.g. advertising, blogger events, etc.)
  4. For most bloggers, online reputation matters
  5. When working with bloggers, authenticity  of the advocacy & commitment of the company/proponent is important (i.e. “one shot advocacy events,” hard sell to bloggers)
  6. Money is generally looked down upon as a reward/incentive
  7. When working with bloggers, companies should strive to make an impression and make sure the blogger has a story to tell after the event

 

The round table was a success that future offerings of the course will feature a similar discussion.

Thanks to all the bloggers who shared their time and insights during the Blogger Round Table Discussion.

Here are some some of the posts on the event:

Some photos: