Natural Search Blog


Examples of Roof Ads

I thought it might be interesting to do a survey of roof ads from around the country, so here are a number of examples that can be found in online mapping systems such as Google Maps.

Closeup of Amoco Roof Ad Amoco Welcomes You To The Big Apple
Roof Ad in New York City

If you recall, over a year ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about how to optimize rooftop ads for best exposure in online maps, although some of the tips could actually be taken seriously if one did wish to market through advertising in this manner.

Rooftop Ads seen near Miami Airport
Roof Ads near Miami Airport (click to enlarge)

Now, most of the “roofvertisements” I could find were likely done with the intention of targeting promotional messages to airplane passengers, since most of the examples I can find are from buildings located near major airports. In happy serendipity for these companies, these ads are now also visible through the satellite images and aerial photos that have become table stakes for map search interfaces, so they’re getting dual use for them along with extra ad impressions. It’s pretty surprising to me that more companies haven’t painted promotional copy on their roofs, though, since I see tons of expansive, white roof “canvas” that would be ideal for this located near airports.

The Salvation Army rooftop ad, Seattle
The Salvation Army in Seattle – (click to enlarge)

Click through for even more samples. (more…)

Google Dance

Here are some of my pix from the Google Dance last week.

Google Dance
Google Dance 2007 logo & party invite

Google Dance, if you don’t know, is humorously named after “Googledance” a colloquialistic term used by webmasters to describe how the Google search results used to sort of “dance around” for a few days during major PageRank or indexing updates. Google re-co-opted the term, if that’s the right word, and use “Google Dance” to refer to the annual party they throw for search engine marketing experts attending the Search Engine Strategies (“SES”) Conference every year.

Click through to see more pics from Google Dance as well as some from the SES Conference. (more…)

Google Phone – ‘Gphone’ launch rumors

News is abuzz with the report that Google could launch the Gphone within a fortnight. As you may recall, I’d earlier resurrected the rumors of Google working on the “Gbrowser” – their own browser software when I learned they’d recently hired on browser security expert Michal Zalewski. I then reported a confirmation of sorts via a Wall Street Journal report, since Google is apparently working on a mobile phone browser in their Boston offices to go along with a new mobile phone they’re wanting developed.

I have a bit of insider information on this subject that might prove interesting.

Two days ago, at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose, Marissa Mayer commented on the iPhone, highlighting how well Google applications worked on it, and admiring the rich user-interface features: (more…)

Should you buy search ads for your brand keywords?

I confess, as a search engine optimizer, I used to think that buying ads for one’s own brand name was a complete waste of money. After all, all companies should rank in top slots for their own brand name(s), if they’re doing their SEO right, and if you’re ranking tops then people will be able to find you if they’re looking for you. As such, I thought that buying ads for your own name was just paying for clicks that should rightly come to you anyway.

But over time, I’ve heard other experts stating that their research shows that having ad presence for brands along with natural search ranking appears to enhance overall click through rates in a synergistic manner. And, with greater experience, I’ve seen a number of cases when companies really should be buying their own brand name keywords for ads!

I see that George Michie over at the Rimm-Kaufman Group criticized a recent Microsoft study claiming that some advertisers are wasting money by buying their own brands in paid search ads — and I think George was right to criticize this. Read on and I’ll elaborate…

(more…)

Marissa Mayer demos the iPhone at SES San Jose

At this morning’s keynote conversation between Marissa Mayer (Google’s Vice President, Search Products & User Experience) and conference co-chair Danny Sullivan, when asked some questions about Google’s interests in mobile search and wireless applications, Marissa whipped out her iPhone and showed some features and user-interface aspects that she particularly admired by pulling up Google Maps and Google Voice Local Search service on the phone:

Marissa Mayer demos the iPhone
(click to enlarge)

As we recently highlighted Google’s mobile phone development project, they apparently have quite a bit of interest in the mobile space. Obviously, they consider the iPhone to have very good user-interface design, since this very nearly amounted to a product endorsement. From watching this, I’d predict that Google is likely to be in talks with Apple to see if they couldn’t partner with them in some major way in order to get prominent placement through the iPhone platform, or perhaps even to persuade Apple to develop the hardware for the Google phone on their behalf.

(more…)

Keynote Conversation With Jim Lanzone

In my presentation today at SES San Jose, I mentioned that I sometimes take photos at events and then share them with the news media – here’s one of the pix that I shot of the Keynote Conversation with Jim Lanzone. Jim Lanzone is Ask.com’s CEO, and conference co-chair Chris Sherman interviewed him for the Keynote.

Jim Lanzone keynote interview
(click to enlarge)

If you’re writing a news story about this keynote, I’d be happy to supply you with permission to use the photos I took of the Keynote, in return for a credit line and a link back to the photo’s page on Flickr. Here’s some of the other images from this sequence.

I’m tired of this camera with it’s too-slow exposures — I’m planning to ditch it for something that’s more flexible in settings and which performs better in low lighting situations.

SES Session on Universal & Blended Vertical Search

I’m busy attending this year’s Search Engine Strategies Conference (SES) in San Jose, but I thought it’d be worthwhile to pause for half a minute in the flurry of sessions and networking to mention a couple of interesting things I heard from Google in yesterday’s session on Universal and Blended Vertical Search.

(more…)

Google Browser Development Confirmed

At the end of July, I wrote that it looked like the Google Browser might actually be in the works after all, based upon their recent hire of a browser security expert. I now see this in this Wall Street Journal article from August 2nd about Google’s push into creating their own wireless phone that they are indeed working on a browser — built specifically for these proposed cellphones:

“Now it is drafting specifications for phones that can display all of Google’s mobile applications at their best, and it is developing new software to run on them. The company is conducting much of the development work at a facility in Boston, and is working on a sophisticated new Web browser for cellphones, people familiar with the plans say.”

Could this be what they’ll have that browser hacker working upon?

(more…)

Google News comments likely to be panned by major corporations

Google today introduced a new experimental feature in their News – they’ve added story participant comments into their listings of stories.

Google News

I think it’s a cool idea, since it invites more community participation in story threads – sort of an evolutionary step on the old threaded format of the old Usenet layout paradigm. If you’ve ever had a story written about you in news media, and were disappointed to see that the reporter made a mistake or neglected to mention something that you felt was important, this would be a convenient route to mitigating it.

But, from what I’ve seen commonly happening in the contemporary business community, I’d bet that most of the major, publicly-traded companies will not engage in commenting on stories about themselves. Read on and I’ll describe… (more…)

New Breed of People Search Engine Launches: Spock.com

A little startup called Spock.com has moved into public beta today for their official public launch – previously they were only available to a handful of invite-only beta-testers. Spock is to white pages what Google Maps was to yellow pages – Spock is a sort of people search engine that pulls data from many different sites together to automatically form personal profiles of individuals. The service also allows one to search for people who match up with certain criteria like celebrities, kidnapped children, billionaires, sudoku fans, “journalists killed in Iraq”, “Baptist women who love to travel”, etc.

Spock logo

Spock is one of a new breed of people search engines which pulls data in from a variety of online sources including MySpace, LinkedIn, My Yahoo!, Wikipedia, company websites, blogs, and other sources to compose these composite profiles which include photos, descriptions, links to people related to the person in question, and tag lists of common keywords. Check out this search I did for “Danny Sullivan”:

Danny Sullivan search results in Spock.com
(click to enlarge)

And, here’s the profile Spock generated for the search engine marketing “Danny Sullivan”:

Danny Sullivan's profile on Spock.com
(click to enlarge)

This automatic generation of profiles from other data sources, similar to a meta search engine, is not all that new, of course – ZabaSearch has been touted for doing similar stuff to compose info on people out of various public records, sort of like a poor man’s background search. And, ZoomInfo has worked to build a directory of searchable business profiles of individuals. IceRocket also used to have a metasearch engine that pulled in data from a handful of various singles/personals sites.

What makes Spock a bit different is how they’re actively composing these profiles from sources that really haven’t been associated with one another previously, and making them publicly available, for “free” (eventually paid for by ad revenue, of course). While the general public likely hasn’t been aware of it, the CIA or NSA has actually also been working on a similar sort of search engine system which automatically composes secret dossiers of information on individuals from a multitude of sources including credit card information, criminal databases, as well as many of the same online sources used by these web services like ZabaSearch, ZoomInfo, and Spock.

(more…)

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