« September 2006 | Main | November 2006 »

October 24, 2006

Talking Panama with Yahoo senior VP Steve Mitgang

For those of you who weren't able to catch Click This live on Monday, the podcast is now available for download. My guest was Steve Mitgang, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the global team leading the definition, creation and marketing of Yahoo's advertising products, platforms and services. And the topic was all things Panama, their new ad platform that launched just last week.

If you want a preview of what we covered, here is a quick rundown of what we covered during the one hour interview.

I have probably missed some topics we covered, but that is a quickie look at some of the things we talked about.

You can download the MP3 here.
It was a great show, and while I didn't get to quite ask everything I wanted to, I got to cover a lot of varied topics to do with Panama. I also managed to ask a question or two that popped up in the Webmasterradio chat room during the live show. And thanks to Steve Mitgang for doing the live show with me!

Posted by Jenstar at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2006

Earn AdSense revenue with your customized Google search engine

I have been hearing rumors of an AdSense enabled customized search engine from Google for some time now, and it has finally launched. It is a beta coming out of Google Co-op. It allows you to create your own customized search results, meaning you can pick and choose the sites that show up in the results.

How does the customized search engine work?

Simply submit websites or pages you'd like to include in your search engine index. You can choose either to restrict your search results to include only these pages and sites, or simply to give these pages and sites higher priority and ranking in the larger Google index. Once you've defined your search engine index, Google will give you a simple piece of code for a search box to place on your site or blog. You'll then have the option to choose various customization options to make the look and feel and functionality of your search engine your own.

You can also add sites to your customized search engine as you surf, and you can allow friends to add to it as well.

And how can you make money with your customized search engine? If you have an AdSense account, you need to verify it within your search engine control panel (click the "make money" tab) by adding the email address that you use with your AdSense account, your zip code, and the last 5 digits of your phone number.

The search results display similar to AdSense for Search results, and the ads are clearly marked with "Ads by Google".

Want to start your own customized search engine? Click here to start.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:31 PM | Comments (7)

Yahoo Publisher Network portal gets a makeover

Yahoo Search Marketing isn't the only one sporting something shiny and new these days. The Yahoo Publisher Portal has gotten a brand new look that launched this evening.

The most visible change is the look of the YPN launch page at publisher.Yahoo.com. Although I must say, that image at the top looks a little odd sans purple, and it did cross my mind to wonder if he's an actual Yahoo'er as well.

Those who are not beta publishers now have access to more publisher information (before it was mainly kept behind the publisher login). You can now access pages such as free website tools ("Enhance Your Site") which showcases many Yahoo products website publishers might find useful. "Drive Traffic to Your Site" was also added as well as "Build Your Site".

There is also a YPN overview page which catches my eye everytime for the great use of colors on their sample YPN ad units (although granted, they look great together on that page, but probably are not the best color scheme choices for publishers implementing ad units on their pages).

They have also added a listing of the most recent YPN blog entries on the front page. And a new Flash tutorial has been added (although I didn't spy it when I was poking around). Update: Click here, then click "take a tour".

It is good to see some changes happening on the YPN side of things to go along with all the Panama changes on the YSM side of things. Now all we need are some new features added to YPN that publishers can make money with, and we'll be set!

Posted by Jenstar at 08:40 PM | Comments (1)

Steve Mitgang announces new Yahoo Search Marketing Blog on Click This

Steve Mitgang, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the global team leading the definition, creation and marketing of Yahoo!'s advertising products, platforms and services was my guest today on Click This! and he announced that Yahoo will be launching a brand new Yahoo Search Marketing blog.

"We will be launching a blog that will be coming out later this week, so you are getting a little bit of a preview on that," Mitgang said during the live chat Monday morning. "And again a lot of information will be there for everyone to see what's going on."

The Yahoo Publisher Network has had their blog since April, so it seems that Yahoo was waiting for the launch of Panama for launching the sister blog for advertisers.

While no domain name has been announced, I would bet money that YSMBlog.com (currently inactive) will be the new URL, following suit of YPNBlog.com.

And will the YSM Blog also feature a sock monkey, or will they get their own mischevious sock mascot?

Download Click This! here (I will be doing a more detailed post on what Steve and I covered)

Posted by Jenstar at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2006

Interviewing Yahoo's Steve Mitgang on all things Panama for Monday's Click This!

I am very pleased to have Yahoo's Steve Mitgang as my guest on Monday's Click This, for a discussion about all things Panama. Steve Mitgang is Senior Vice President and General Manager of the global team leading the definition, creation and marketing of Yahoo!¹s advertising products , platforms and services. He was one of the many Yahoo'ers I met earlier this week at the Influencers Event.

I had some great conversations with Steve about Panama, so this show will likely be the best Click This to date! I have my stack of questions I want to ask him but I also wanted to open the floor for other questions as well, incase anyone has any questions that you feel are really important. So if you have any burning questions you are interested to know about the new Yahoo Search Marketing Platform Panama, please comment here, or fire them off the me via email.

You can listen to the interview live on Webmasterradio.fm on Monday at 11am PST (2pm EST). And you are always welcome to join into the chat room for the inevitable chit chat related to the show topic as well.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:18 AM | Comments (2)

October 18, 2006

Attending the Yahoo Influencers event for Panama release

I have just returned from Yahoo’s Burbank headquarters, the home of the newly released Panama advertising platform, where I have spent the past two days learning – and testing live – the much hyped Panama program. It was part of the Yahoo Influencer Event, which I was honored to be one of seven industry reps to be invited. We were primarily those who were particularly well versed on all things Yahoo or pay per click advertising, and all of us write about it in some capacity, whether it is on a blog, website or a published book.

Andy Beal, Marketing Pilgrim
Mona Elesseily, Traffick/Page Zero
Andrew Goodman, Traffick/Page Zero
Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Roundtable/Search Engine Watch
Catherine Seda, Author/Entrepreneur
Greg Sterling, Search Engine Journal

The group as a whole meshed pretty well and it was great to catch up with many of them.

There were so many Yahoo employees involved in Panama that came to present or answer Q&A we had on the new platform. The thing that I found most interesting of the entire event is the access we had to very high level employees at Yahoo for the Influencers event. Three men who sat down at our table at lunch, and who were merely introduced as “the engineers” were actually Zod Nazem, CTO; David Ku, VP of Engineering; and Brian Acton, Director of Engineering. They then spent time with us after lunch talking about their experiences with Panama, as well as answering our questions.

The other presenters on Monday included Steve Mitgang (Sr. Vice President & GM), John Slade Sr (Director, Global Product Management; also familiar to those who attend the click fraud panels at SES); John Kim (Sr. Director, Advertiser Product Marketing), Betty Park (Director, Sales), Karen Sharkey (Sr. Director, Customer Solutions), Tim Cadogan (VP of Search), David Pann (VP of Product Management), Darshan Kantak (Director of Product Management), Mark Morrissey (VP of Global Product Management). There were also many who popped in and out throughout the day, many commenting when they could.

Some YPN team members presenting on Tuesday included Bill Demas, Will Johnson and Cody Simms. We also met Michael Mattis, blog editor of the YPNBlog.com, although not the infamous sock monkey.

And as you have likely heard, Yahoo announced the Panama release in their earnings call, shortly after our event wrapped up. We got to play around with the system with money courtesy of Yahoo, so we did keyword research and created new ad campaigns right in the new Panama ad platform. Andy Beal and Catherine Seda tried to outrank each other for the term “SEO” until Catherine’s budget ran out.

I was very impressed with a lot of the new features in the new system. You can suggest a URL to extract keywords from (whether your own site or a competitor), then can easily deselect words you don’t need. For example, when I used jensense.com, it picked up the term “snowboarding” since I used it as an example in the YouTube post I did. But it was easy to deselect it from my list.

They also added a new slider into the system, so you can slide it back and forth and see how much it costs in order to get 100% impressions and getting the best ad placement. Then you can slide it lower to fit your budget, and when you do, it will show you how many impressions and clicks you could expect, as well as showing how much you will miss. There were new features I know I am also forgetting that I will remember as soon as I log back into Panama tomorrow.

The one thing that surprised me the most was that there is still no way to block specific publisher sites from displaying ads. I have always felt that this has limited the number of advertisers willing to opt into the Yahoo content network, and have felt that the different pricing between search and content is better than nothing. But having the ability to block any publisher would definitely give more advertisers the confidence to run their ads on the content network if they feel they have control over where those ads appear. I was quite vocal on this one, as were the other attendees who do a lot of PPC.

And it looks as though the demise of the keyword traffic tool will become a reality. I was also vocal against that one because it is a great free tool to send newbies too who want to start poking around into keyword research. We may have managed to convince them to keep it in place until they have a Panama edition of a similar tool in place that is accessible to all webmasters (not just advertisers).

They also talked a bit about the YSM API. It sounds as though they really want to encourage third parties to create tools using it.

As for the Yahoo Publisher Network side of things, it seems like they were waiting on the Panama release before pushing forward on new things. And when put this way, it makes sense for them to wait and push out features with the new platform than adding something on the legacy platform. So publishers should be seeing new things on the way now that this is done.

Cody Simms from YPN also said targeting should be improving with the new system, and tweaks will continue to be made, which I know all YPN publishers will be happy to hear. The many elipses (…) have disappeared now as well.

It also looks like Yahoo will continue to push the non-monetizable publisher options to publishers. This includes the tab within the YPN control panel that shows the other various Yahoo programs that publishers could potentially use as a way to improve or gain traffic. This was one thing I wasn’t quite so happy to hear about… as a publisher (and I know others have said this to me as well) we want to hear about options that make money directly, and not so much about Yahoo products that do not. So why I don’t mind hearing about something like Y!Q once in a while, it has seemed lately that this is happening more frequently and will continue with this trend.

We also heard about future vision of YPN and where it is headed, but unfortunately that part was under NDA. However, I can say that publishers will like where it is headed and what the future of YPN will bring.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the event. All seven of us signed NDAs, but most of what we heard was bloggable once the embargo was lifted at 3pm Tuesday… which was also bumped up by 15 minutes to allow some of the attendees to push their blog posts live prior to flights taking off at 3pm. And all the Yahoo’ers were extremely candid. There were surprisingly few instances where they wouldn’t answer a question, and it wasn’t very often that I felt an answer was taking a circular route to avoid the real question. In fact, there was multiple times I couldn’t help but think “Wow, I can’t believe they are telling us this!” It was a definite class act.

And of course, there was the swag. Black and white bags for the girls while the guys got orange and grey versions of the Yahoo Publisher Network bag. And inside was a YPN branded Zen Photo MP3 player. While in the elevator to the event, several of us mentioned how little Yahoo swag we had. And when we got the bags with the goodies, Andy Beal remarked “You had me at Zen.” I wish I thought of that line! We also got Yahoo gum (“Yodelicious. Freshen breath. Yodel. Repeat.”), stickers, buttons, a magnet, a swanky YPN pen, lighted keychain. And also included, which I somehow missed until just writing this now, was a Yahoo sticky note pad, a “Do you Yahoo!?” notebook with matching sticker inside, girlie Yahoo tshirt, “Beta This” lighted ball, umbrella, a funky mini flashlight I am sure my daughter will permanently borrow, a YPN mini basketball hoop and ball which my daughter has already taken, and a nice purple YSM travel mug which I know I will use well. Swagalicious!

I know there is plenty I am forgetting, once I go through my notes I will likely post a followup as well. It was an intensive two days!

I would definitely attend something like this at Yahoo in the future, it was well worth the trip down and can only hope they do it again!

A special thanks to Kristen, Gaude and Steph for the work they did putting this all together for us. It was a class event, complete with a night out which ended it bowling down the street from the Kodak Theater.

And also a shout out to Dax who indulged my inner Disney princess (or was it Maleficent?) with an all-day trip to Disneyland on Sunday (read about his Disneygasm) but as tempting as it may be, I won’t tell how he screamed when we went on Tower of Terror. And also to Barbara and Greg Boser (AKA WebGuerrilla) whom I stayed with for a couple days before the influencers event and hung out with in their office before I flew home.

Last but not least, if you want a Panama invite (restricted to US only at this time, lucky I attended the Influencers event or I could be waiting a while!) click here to request an early invite. Otherwise, you will be sent an invite sometime between now and early next year.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:37 PM | Comments (7)

October 13, 2006

Track AdSense ad units with multiple custom channels

If you are an AdSense publisher, you have probably had the need to use multiple channels on a single ad unit. While there has been an unpublished workaround in order to use two channels on a single ad unit, it was definitely a workaround. Now AdSense has launched a new feature that allows publishers to track up to five custom channels on a single ad unit.

As of today, it is now possible to assign multiple custom channels to a single ad unit. This feature enables you to track your ad performance with greater flexibility and view more granular information. When generating your ad code, you'll be able to add up to 5 custom channels to a specific instance of ad code.

What's the benefit of tracking with more than one custom channel? Well, multiple channels can be very useful when you want to track one ad unit across several different metrics simultaneously. For example, let's say you run a sports website and you've placed a leaderboard at the top and bottom of every page. To track the performance of the ad placement, you've created two custom channels -- 'TopLeaderboard' and 'BottomLeaderboard' -- and regenerated your ad code appropriately.

For those of you that do a lot of testing, this will make it much easier to track changes across multiple pages and when using multiple ad units per page.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:52 AM | Comments (5)

October 11, 2006

How Google Should Monetize YouTube With AdWords & AdSense

Unless you have been under a rock the past few days, chances are good you have heard about Google purchasing YouTube for $1.2 billion dollars. Yes, billion. And the natural assumption by many is that Google will somehow monetize this by bringing together their AdWords advertisers with the seemingly zillions of eyeballs watching videos on YouTube.

Unfortunately, it isn't quite as simple as slapping an AdSense ad unit on the page... after all, YouTube has sporadically tried that approach in the past. However, there are some different - and some unique - ways to integrate their advertisers with YouTube in ways that won't necessarily alienate all of those who hate watching commercials before watching what they came to see, an approach used commonly by television networks who show clips or even entire shows online, usually cleverly done so that viewers can't easily skip then without skipping the program they wanted to see in the first place.

Google began experimenting with video ads this year, and has done a great deal to promote them, both to advertisers to begin using them in their ad campaigns, as well as to publishers, encouraging them to use video-ad-friendly ad unit sizes and enabling image ads. And while Google hasn't said just how many videos are running on the AdSense network, there doesn't seem to be a short supply of them.

First, the obvious approach for video ads is what they have experimented with in their MTV video ad beta test - inserting paid commercials within the streaming video. These video ads were 30 seconds in length or less, done in interstitial style, meaning when you'd expect a commercial break if you were watching the programming on the television, you would see one of these video ads instead. Many of these ads were for branding purposes - just as the advertisers would have if you were watching television - rather than something that needed to be clicked on (which many wouldn't do since they would worry about leaving whatever they happened to be watching). This could easily be done on YouTube, particularly at the beginning of short pieces, or during "commercial breaks" of programming, such as in the recently announced deal with CBS that would see primetime shows being shown on YouTube.

But the problem lies that because YouTube's videos themselves are currently ad-free, you could alienate the viewership by suddenly tacking 30 second ad spots at the beginning of every YouTube video. However, there is definitely room for advertisers to create shorter video ad spots, say 10 seconds in length, that users would be much more tolerant of.

There could also be the advertising scenario where advertisers could pick and choose on-the-fly which videos they would like their ads appearing on, meaning the vast majority of videos would remain ad-free, while only those ones "chosen" by advertisers would have ads on them. This could be effective for when videos go viral and get a lot of views within a short period of time. Likewise, perhaps advertisers could select to only have their ads run on the front page "Featured Videos."

Google could also offer the ability for advertisers to pay for better placement of certain types of videos, such as infomercials or longer length commercials about their product or service. This could even be utilized by companies or individuals who want their videos to get better exposure. This could be useful for a network wanting to promote a new television series or a studio wanting to get better video exposure for a movie or video game preview. This could be done very similar in style to the sponsored listings versus organic listings in the regular Google search results, but done with videos instead.

On the non-video advertising front, Google could easily supply contextually targeted ads based on keywords added by members when they upload the video. However, as you have probably noticed, YouTube is also filled with keyword spam, where members stuff a huge amount of keywords into their video descriptions so they show up for terms the video has nothing about (most have something along the lines of "This movie has nothing to do about..." in the descriptions; example - click "more" on the description on the right to see it in action). This could definitely hinder how well contextual ads are targeted on the page, meaning more seemingly off-target ads in a network that is known for its great targeting... especially when everyone will be watching to see how Google approaches the issue of bringing advertising onboard YouTube.

But there would also be value if advertisers could site target their specific text-ads to appear on specific video pages, or for specific video search search results that would target YouTube only, instead of the entire Google or content network. So a snowboarding company could specifically target just YouTube visitors who search for various snowboarding videos by keyword, having them appear only on YouTube and not default onto Google search results or the whole content network

And speaking of the content network, let's look at how the content network could benefit from this YouTube deal. The most obvious would be to allow publishers to monetize from YouTube videos they post to their blog or website. So let's say Matt Cutts does one of his video posts and instead of using just Google video, he put it up on YouTube as well. And say he tied it into something with AdSense ("No, using AdSense won't get your site indexed in Google faster!") so I decide he's worthy enough to embed his AdSense video right into JenSense. As a publisher, it would be nice to have a nice spot to put my publisher ID into that embed code so that if there happened to be a video ad available for the video I put on JenSense (and I suspect there would be a lot of advertisers wanting their ads to appear before Matt Cutts talks shop!) I could make money every time a JenSense visitor viewed Matt's video about AdSense & indexing and saw a video ad first.

An alternative is to allow those who upload original videos to YouTube, to use their publisher ID to make money when someone views their video right on YouTube. Of course, you might have to threaten users with penalty of death (which I figure is definitely evil!) so they don't go on a video upload binge and upload every video they happen to have on their hard drive, regardless of whether they own the copyright or not. But if this had been available, the Numa Numa guy would be rich now.

There are a couple other issues to consider. First there is the whole copyright issue, with people uploading content that they don't have permission to upload, whether it be clips from a favorite show or an illegal recording from a concert or movie in the theatre.

What if someone uploads a naughty video and puts it on YouTube and Mr. Cranky Advertiser discovers his video ad playing at the beginning of the latest celebrity sex tape that has managed to find its way in pixelated goodness onto YouYube? That could definitely happen, even with the flagging system currently in place. That said, it sure isn't practical - or interesting - to have someone review every single video on YouTube, whether it be the latest Numa Numa or the video from someone's cousin's daughter's first birthday that captures all 30 minutes of a one-year-old not opening birthday presents.

USA Today also explores the issue of making money with YouTube in today's newspaper. I also wanted to clarify the quote I made in the newspaper that didn't quite come across as I intended. When referring to the number of websites running AdSense today, I was referring to consumer oriented websites, meaning sites offering things such as product reviews and other types of information-based sites such as content sites, community sites and blogs. I was not referring strictly commercial business sites (ie. sites selling their products or services directly to the consumer), although it seems as though more and more commercial sites are running AdSense these days too! But my thoughts on how AdSense can impact sites directly selling products and services can wait for another day :)

Overall, I think this YouTube deal could really push Google's AdWords video ads to the next level, and be done in a way to allow publishers to earn money (both for placement and for creating the video) as well as allow advertisers the ability to monetize all those YouTube eyeballs. And it gives AdWords advertisers a huge platform of diverse content where Google can control the implementation and overall ease of adding advertising into the YouTube mix to allow advertisers to track just how effective their campaigns are. There will be some interesting times ahead for Google advertisers and publishers.

Posted by Jenstar at 12:36 AM | Comments (11)

October 02, 2006

Google AdSense triggers intrusion attempt alert in Norton Internet Security

Norton Internet Security has long been known to block Google AdSense ads with its default installation of the popular virus protection program that blocks advertising by default. But now, Norton Internet Security is triggering medium risk intrusion attempt alerts, even with ad blocking turned off.

With Norton Internet Security updated, a user would see this warning alert appear.
norton1.gif

Note that there is no option for turning this off, or "allowing" this intrusion attempt to occur.

The intrusion alert reports the intruder as pagead2.googlesyndication.com, the server used by Google AdSense to serve AdSense ads. It also notes the IP address is 72.14.253.104, which their IP lookup traces back to google.com.

So what is so dangerous that it is causing this intrusion alert warning?

norton2.gif

Yes, it is a standard Google AdSense video ad that triggered the medium risk intrusion alert. These are the video ads served by regular AdSense javascript, either with images enabled in the account or within the AdSense control panel. So if you have image ads enabled, your visitors might see this intrusion attempt alert if Google serves a Google AdSense video ad to a user who has Norton Internet Security installed on their computer. And the ad just has to be displayed, a visitor would not even get the chance to play the video ad before the intrusion attempt alert is displayed.

On the upside, regular AdSense ads are no longer blocked with Norton Internet Security with the ad blocking feature turned on, unless one of the ads in question has a destination URL that matches one of the directories or URLs in the ad blocking filter list. However, in those cases, just the individual ad is blocked, not the entire ad unit itself.

If it is a video ad being displayed, however, Symantec ad blocking will block it as an attempted intrusion attempt with the popup warning. And the unfortunate side effect of what Symantec is doing is that it gives users - particularly those who aren't as web-savvy as AdSense publishers - the impression that it is the website they are visiting that is doing something evil and attempting the intrusion, not a third-party ad that is on the site they are visiting.

It is also worth noting that this alert is triggered by video ads appearing through the regular AdSense javascript used by regular publishers. It is not a problem only affecting premium publishers or publishers utilizing some of the special AdSense video ad beta tests.

It seems to be only with a recent update that Norton Internet Security began blocking video ads with this intrusion attempt alert. While the video ads have been out for several months, it is only recently that these alerts began appearing to users viewing pages with AdSense video ads. However, AdSense could have changed something on there end in how these ads are shown within the iframe that is now resulting in these intrusion attempt alerts. If this is the case, hopefully AdSense will revert back once aware of the problem. If it is solely Symantec who is to blame, hopefully Google and Symantec can come to an arrangement where a future Norton Internet Security update will allow Google video ads to display without causing these alerts.

Posted by Jenstar at 02:39 AM | Comments (2)