Keyword 'Pirates' Sunk by Carnival Australia

September 20, 2013: Carnival Australia is taking a hard line with its paid search marketing on Google, threatening to cut off agents who bid on any of its brand names including P&O Cruises, Cunard, Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises.

Agents were initially told "if they refuse to comply we will restrict or suspend access to marketing benefits" before Carnival stepped up the rhetoric last week and said it would cut access to its Polar res system for five day to any agent found flouting the new policy.

The aggressive stance has caused much angst in the cruise community which, on the supply side, is dominated by Carnival and Royal Caribbean International.


Strong Online Ad Growth Continues

September 11, 2013: Australia's online ad expenditure continues to grow at a rapid clip – 14.6% in the year to June 30 – surpassing the propaganda dollars spent on TV for the first time, according to the latest PWC – IAB online ad report.

Search grew fastest and along with directories is by far the biggest focus for online advertisers with 53% market share. Advertisers are also flocking to mobile, sending spend up by 161% in the June quarter to $45.9m (out of $910m total spend).


Search Drives Online Spend

December 11, 2012: Online advertising in Australia grew 10%  in the September quarter to $813.25m – and is on track to exceed both newspaper and TV advertising spend in 2013, according to the latest IAB/PwC report. Search and Directories is the dominant online advertising sector with 53% share of spend, and also the most dynamic with 15% growth.



More pain at Spreets, Living Social

December 11, 2012: Tough times in Australia's group buying space with Spreets and LivingSocial cuttting jobs and restructuring. Why? They are not making money - never have. The whiff of failure even hangs over local and international market leader Groupon, the share price of which has crashed since its listing in the US. See full Sydney Morning Herald story.


Strong Growth Continues for Digital Advertising

Aug 31, 2012: Digital ad spend in Australia cracked the A$3bn barrier for the first time, increasing a robust 21% in the 12 months to June 30 to $3.133bn. The fastest growth came from Search, which is for political reasons (Google does not want its results broken out) paired with directories in survey, conducted by PWC for the the Interactive Advertising Bureau.



Merger - Ouffer and

June 18, 2012: Two of Australia's daily deals sites, Ouffer and, have announced they will merge later this year. Jeremy Same, a director of, told the Sydney Morning Herald: "We're very excited to be working with an amazing team ... that will make the new company a force to be reckoned with". The new company will have 1.4 million subscribers and combined revenue of A$38m.


Spreets Founders Leave Company

Spreets Founders Leave Company
Dean McEvoy & Justus Hammer
June 1, 2012: The founders of the Spreets daily deals website, which they sold to Yahoo!7 last year for a reported $40m, are leaving the company. Dean McEvoy finishes today, Justus Hammer at the end of June while sales director Damien Andreasen will stay on a couple of months to bed in a replacement.
Dean McEvoy explained in an email announcing the departures that: "Its been a hell of a fun ride starting Australia's first group buying site and being acquired by Yahoo!7 just 11 months later.



Group Buying Loses Momentum, Dollars and Customers

May 8, 2012: Further evidence has emerged that Australia’s so-called Group Buying sector peaked last year and is struggling to regain momentum after significant falls in interest and transaction volumes. Hitwise analyst Tim Lovitt told Group Buying Summit delegates in Sydney that visits to the Top 10 GB websites maxed out last September and are now back to April 2010 levels. “This suggests to us that everyone interested in the current group buying/daily deal model has been touched,” Lovitt said. The Hitwise findings support transaction based research from Quantium released in March.


Lessons From Daily Deals Summit NYC

By James Kitchener, Jack MediaThe euphoria of 2010 and the unbridled optimism of early 2011 has now turned into a little dose of scepticism. Call it collective holding of the breath, where many in the space have had to spend more time defending their business than operating them. The Race for this trillion dollar space is still on but proving a harder nut to crack than initially thought by most. What is next? Where are we heading? Is the Industry experiencing growing pains or does the model need to shift? Here's what I learned at the Daily Deals Summit NYC. More...


Rift Signals End of Biggest Travel Deals

A "major rift" between the partners has led to the end of, a daily deals website launched six months ago by travel industry identity Adrian Caruso with entrepreneurs George Papaioannou, Nicholas Stavropoulos and Evan Balafas, who run Excite Holidays, Adlux and Excite Digital Media. More...


Groupon Gets Serious About Travel

The travel division of Groupon, Groupon Getaways, has this week obtained a travel agent licence in NSW, meaning it is part of the Travel Compensation Fund. "This affirms our commitment to providing security for our consumers," said Lisa Maroun, Groupon Getaways GM Australia.


Group Buying Under The Spotlight At Group Buying Summit

A POWERFUL speaking lineup headlines Australia’s first Group Buying Summit in Sydney on May 7. The program is packed with industry leaders from all the major brands set to debate the opportunities and challenges presented by the atomic growth of the Group Buying sector.
Group Buying is an industry that barely existed three years ago yet is expected to generate more than $1 billion in Australian sales by 2015, according to analyst Telsyte. The sector has generated enormous consumer interest, though not without controversy, in its short life and all will be open for discussion and comment at Group Buying Summit. More...


Shaun Cornelius New CEO of OurDeal

Shaun Cornelius New CEO of OurDeal
March 28, 2012: Shaun Cornelius has replaced founder Julian Holman as CEO of OurDeal, a group buying business owned by media companies News Limited and Network Ten. “OurDeal has a real competitive advantage within the market and a great opportunity for the future,” said Cornelius, the  former CEO of, and Choosi. No mention was made in today's release on why Julian Holman left the company he started two years ago.


TravelCandy Closes Down

March 27, 2012: Travel deals site TravelCandy, launched in late 2010,  has closed. Founder Sam Friend said: "I've scaled it right back and we are not doing any more deals. It's disappointing but we gave it a good shot." Friend said TravelCandy, marketed as a members only travel club, could not attain the scale to make it viable, growing its database to just 5000.



Groupon Becoming Travel Agent In Europe

Groupon is evolving into an online travel agency in Europe. It has set up separate tour operating companies in France and Germany enabling it to legally package tours. Gregory Linn, director of hotel and travel – Europe, told Tnooz that Groupon is "little by little becoming an OTA with a difference ... We want to give them a second choice to go to a more traditional mode but still with more interesting packages.”’ See Tnooz story. Buys Stake in Torpedo7

March 20, 2012: has paid $7.2m for a 15% stake in Torpedo7, owner of New Zealand's biggest shopping and daily deals site,, which attracts 3.3m unique browers a month. It also owns, a major online retailer of outdoor action sports gear. CEO Greg Roebuck says the deal is "a natural extension of the business" and that the stake may be increased should certain conditions be met. According to the announcement, "Torpedo7 is a profitable business wirth strong revenue growth. In the past 12 months and 1-Day have sold more than four million products to consumers in Australia and NZ.


Group Buying Peaked Already - Report

Group Buying Peaked Already - Report
March 19, 2012: A story in the Sydney Morning Herald claims "it looks like the group buying novelty has worn off", quoting a report from Quantium that shows February’s group buying activity down 34% from the August peak." The story says while "February activity did pick up from January" growth was slower year on year.  See story.


Would You Like A Coupon With That?

Would You Like A Coupon With That?
March 15, 2012: Hungry Jack’s has reportedly  offloaded 675,000 discount vouchers through daily deal website Scoopon in less than two days. The vouchers were free to print, but cost $2 to redeem in store for a Whopper and fries. Appears to be a great promotional use of the medium by the burger giant to get more people to test its product. It's also generated massive PR.


Daily Travel Deal Too Good To Be True

Daily Travel Deal Too Good To Be True
Pool at The Elysian, Bali

March 13, 2012: The deal sounded too good to be true –  and in the end it was. Just $889 for a five-star villa with private pool at The Elysian in Bali, 73% off the standard $3245 weekly rate, bought by 71 people through (WPFP). But now they can't redeem their vouchers because The Elysian is telling them it has not been paid by Villas Indonesia, which apparently negotiated the deal. More...


Discounting Drives Australian Online Sales

March 8, 2012: Discounting is driving online sales in Australia, which analyst Telsyte claims reached $15.9 billion last year, 64% more than in 2010.

"The main driver is demand for discount offerings," analyst Sam Yip said. Telsyte says strong online shopping growth will continue with spend to exceeed $30 billion by 2016.

"Retailers have spent the past few years trying to find the best way to drive their online strategy and it is now evident that offering discounts is the main lever to get Australians to spend," said Mr Yip. More...


Jump On It Bought By LivingSocial

March 3, 2012: LivingSocial has reportedly bought the 65% of Australian group buying site Jump On it didn't already own for more than $40m. Meanwhile, Adam Rigby, of the three Jump On It founders, has been named CEO. Colin Fabig will remain chairman while the third founder James Gilbert has left the company. Mr Rigby claimed Jump On It is Australia's "number one" group buying site.


Groupon Buys Uptake, A Social Travel Site

March 2, 2012: Groupon has bought Uptake, a social travel research site for between US$13m and US19m, apparently for its staff and sector expertise. "We’re excited to continue to build the Palo Alto engineering team with an all-star roster of startup founders and experts in the mobile and social space,” a spokeswoman for Groupon told All Things D. Groupon already has a social travel product, Groupon Getaways, in partnership with Expedia. See story.


F-Commerce Takes A Back Seat

Feb 29, 2012: Interesting story today by retail analyst Michael Baker that "so-called F-commerce, or selling on Facebook, has at least temporarily gone into the too-hard basket, with a number of high-profile retailers, including Gap and upscale US department store Nordstrom, terminating their Facebook storefronts. For a retailer to test and then abandon a particular channel is not unusual.  The difference with F-commerce is that Facebook is a social site, so trying to market and sell products on it is a bit like someone making a sales pitch to his friends at a Christmas barbecue." See article.


Scoopon Offers Air Australia Refunds

Sydney, Feb 22, 2012: Leading group buying site Scoopon is offering refunds to stranded Air Australia customers who bought an estimated $1m in discounted tickets through the site last July. Air Australia collapsed late last week leaving passsengers stranded in various destination such as Phuket. Scoopon ran two deals in July offering flights to Phuket from Melbourne and Brisbane for $599. See story.


Mobile Takes Off On Valentine's Day

Feb 16, 2012: Google reports that "a whopping 62% of of total US searches or popular national chain restaurants occurred on high-end mobile devices or tablets". That is huge - and, I was going to say, a sign of the future. But, really, it's about where the online world is right now. And that is mobile. See post.


Travel Staff Leave Living Social and OurDeal

Sydney, Feb 15, 2012: There's been some churn of late in the sales teams of the Daily Deals sites. Glenn Andrews is no longer National Sales Manager of Living Social Escapes. He posted on LinkedIn: "They closed the Bangalow Office that I launched, so currently exploring opportunities." Meanwhile, Sam Lindner left OurDeal, where he was Head of  Travel, in late January. Lindner had only been in the job for five months and was reluctant to comment.


Online Advertising Grows 17% In 2011

Sydney, Feb 13, 2012: Feb The Australian online advertising market has continued to record double digit growth reaching $2.66bn for the 2011 calendar year, driven by search and directories.   The results, announced today by IAB Australia in its Online Advertising Expenditure Report (OAER) compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), reveal overall market growth of 17 per cent, almost $400 million, year on year. More...


Groupon Loss, Shares Slide

Groupon has disappointed investors with a loss in its first financial results since it became a public company, hitting its share price. But CEO Andrew Mason remained bullish: “We’re very excited about what we’re building.”Groupon  reported December quarter revenues of US$506.5m, above the US$475m analysts were expecting, but reported a net loss of $42.7m. Financial Times story.


Million Daily Deals A Month Sold In Oz

Sydney, Feb 6, 2012: Australian Daily Deal sites are now selling an average of one million deal vouchers each month with industry turnover for 2011 hitting $498 million, analyst Sam Yip from Telsyte said today. Telsyte expects the group buying market to grow an additional 30 per cent in 2012, exceeding $600M and reaching $1 billion no later than 2015. More...


Living Social Loss Double Its Revenue

The world’s 2nd largest group buying business, Living Social, lost US$558m on revenues of US$245 million. This financial nugget was contained in the latest results of Amazon, which owns 31% of Living Social.

Market leader Groupon will report its annual results next week. In the nine months to Sept 30 Groupon recorded a net loss of $238 million on revenues of $1.1 billion. Full story in All Things D. Enters Daily Deals Market

Australia's largest holiday house site, has entered the "Daily Deals" market on a trial basis. It is offering 50% off five properties a day through the ‘Great Stayz Get-together’ promotional website.  If successful, it may become a permanent feature of the Stayz product offering.


Should Groupon Have Joined The Conversation?

Social media has been central to the database and community building efforts of Group Buying sites. A few of the bigger operators employ social media or community managers to foster good will and also keep tabs on what people are saying. But you have to take the right tone and be very careful about the guise you adopt. Otherwise it can blow up in your face, as 'Sheree' from Groupon found when she joined the conversation sparked by this this comment piece questioning the marketing practices of her company on Mumbrella.


Google's Biggest US Advertisers Revealed

Kantar Media estimates that InterActiveCorp is the biggest search advertiser in the United States, spending a massive US$174m in the nine months to September 2011 with Google. Other big spenders include Amazon (US$118m), AT&T (US$115m), Expedia (US$92m) and Experian Group (US$79m). See AdNews story.


Online Christmas Shopping Spree Forecast

Online retailers and analysts are forecasting a record Christmas. IBISWorld analyst Ian MacGowan predicted that online sales will grow almost 10% this festive season while eBay Vice President Deborah Sharkey is tipping an early rush. Meanwhile Australia Post boss Ahmed Fahour said package volumes are already up 13% this year - "a figure which can be directly linked to Australians taking up online shopping in record numbers". Read full story.


Best Flash Sale Ever? Spreets Sells $2m in Discounted Tahiti Packages

Best Flash Sale Ever? Spreets Sells $2m in Discounted Tahiti Packages

Daily deals site Spreets says it sold almost 1000 packages worth more than $2m at the Hilton Bora Bora in Tahiti in just a few days. "It was crazy – we think it is the biggest group buying deal ever (in dollar terms) in Australia," says Spreets CEO and founder Dean McEvoy. The six-night package cost $2275, included all meals and was sourced through Singaporean wholesaler Travel Smoove.


FirstClick Acquires MediaMax

FirstClick Consulting has acquired two-person shop  MediaMax, a digital performance agency with clients including STA Travel. MediaMax founder James Tait joins FirstClick as Client Services Director. FirstClick has also added Medibank, Fuji Zerox and Amaysim to its client roster, which includes ANZ,, news Digital Media and seek. Sept 28, 2011


Amplify Sold To Ventures in Digital Media

Amplify Sold To Ventures in Digital Media
Tom Petryshen

Amplify Services, one of Australia's orginal search marketing agencies, has been sold to Ventures in Digital Media for a reported $1m. ViDM is a new company headed by former Yahoo and Amplify exec Willie Pang. Current COO, Tom Petryshen, has been appointed to the role of VP International, based in Vancouver. Petryshen will continue to be a significant shareholder and has been appointed to the Board of ViDM. Former co-owner David Dale will also stay involved in the business and work from his new home in the UK. Amplify clients include Telstra,, Webjet, Europcar, Australian Unity, News Digital Media, Fairfax Digital, ninefold,, Crazy Sales,, DealsDirect, Boardroom Radio and James Hardie. September 22, 2011.


Baartz Leaves Yahoo As Search In Decline

Carol Baartz has been sacked, reportedly by phone, as CEO of Yahoo after overseeing the decline of the company's position as a search engine market leader. Baartz didn't see search as a core discipline and instigated the deal that now sees Microsoft, via Bing, effectively running search for Yahoo under a revenue share strategy that is faltering quite badly. In the second quarter Yahoo reported search revenue after traffic acquisition costs of US$371 million, down 15% over the previous year. September 7, 2011.


Google Tweaks Home Page, Revisits Past

Google Tweaks Home Page, Revisits Past

You're not dreaming, Google has been tweaking its home page with a new black strip across the menu bar introduced this week plus a few other things you probably haven't noticed. Google says more changes are on the way in a blog post that also carried a copy of its original 1997 home page, right. Hasn't really changed that much. July 1, 2011.


Google Australia's Irish Tax Bonus

Hard to believe but Google Australia paid tax of $1 million last year on its near-monopoly online search business, which Frost and Sullivan estimates generated almost $750m in 2010, according to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald. How did they do it? Find out here. May 2, 2011


Management Changes at FirstClick

Founder Grace Chu has stepped aside from the daily management of FirstClick Consulting Pty Ltd and promoted Mark Armstrong to Managing Director. Chu will become CEO and focus more on the strategic direction of FirstClick, which she started in 2005. FirstClick clients include ANZ Bank,,, Foxtel, Trading Post and February 21, 2011.


Nick Leeder New Google Australia Boss

Nick Leeder New Google Australia Boss
Nick Leeder
GOOGLE has raided the senior ranks of News Ltd for its new managing director as the technology company looks to boost its share of the $2.2 billion online ad market and meet the possible threat of regulatory intervention, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. 
Nick Leeder, 41, deputy chief executive of The Australian, joins Google Australia and New Zealand as managing director at the end of March, 2011, replacing Karim Temsamani who left in October for a senior role at its Californian headquarters. Read full story...


Larry Page Takes Over as Google CEO

Larry Page Takes Over as Google  CEO

Google co-founder Larry Page (pictured) is taking over the company's CEO role from Eric Schmidt, who will remain an adviser to the company. The shock announcement was made in concert with Google's 2010 fourth quarter results, which exceeded analyst expectations.  

Net income rose 29 per cent to $US2.54 billion, or $US7.81 a share, from $US1.97 billion, or $US6.13, a year earlier, Google said on its website. Search ad spend rose 23 per cent in the US, according to Efficient Frontier. Sales, excluding revenue passed on to partner sites, were $US6.37 billion, topping the $US6.06 billion average of estimates. 


Google Places Survival Guide

By Martin Kelly

Use Google Places, don't complain about it. Sure, Google Places has thrown the web world - especially travel -  into a whirl but do something about it. Get yourself a free map listing and take it from there. Optimise the hell out of it. If you haven't twigged that Maps (core of Google Places) has been on the rise for the past 18 months, certain to dominate organic search, then you've been living in cave. You should take this as a signal that more attention has to be paid to world around you. Get out more, read more, educate yourself, attend conferences, talk with people, get out of that rut. Change is the only constant.

Always put your business first. That's what Google does, continually placing its business needs ahead of everything else. Why not? Business is about making money, something many believe these latest changes are designed to do by driving more traffic to Google properties or paid links, for which growth rates have been declining. Then in the Google order comes consumers ("We built Google for users, not websites," Google told the Wall Street Journal recently). Somewhere after that are its paid search customers. To put it another way – never ever rely on Google.

Diversify advertising spend. Or as granny used to say, never put all your eggs in one basket. It's basic business maxim but one which many online companies – some of them huge – have ignored, focussing everything on the web. TripAdvisor is a good example, its visitor growth is predicated on search engine visibility, something that is no longer guaranteed. Its Google traffic has fallen 10% since Google Places was launched. Who's fault is that? Other big websites are in a similar predicament, having spent years living off Google they must now start spending marketing dollars elsewhere.

Build brand. I believe that you can't build brand by relying only on Google, which naturally says otherwise. In my opinion, building a genuine brand comes by marketing through different mediums, in different ways, though based around a simple core concept, a tagline, a look, a feel. But the omnipitence of Google has made a lot of businesses lazy. For many, marketing consists of employing a bunch of maths geeks to crunch numbers, flunkies to build links  and others to optimise copy. No magazines, newspapers, TV, banner advertising, direct mail etc. Just search engine ads responding directly to a query, back to a landing/booking page and, hopefully, a transaction. But no relationship with the brand.

Wean your business off search adddiction. The irony is that spending money in other mediums to build brand cuts your search marketing costs and dependance on paid search, as Webjet has demonstrated in the Australian market. Webjet made a commitment years ago to billboard, television and cable advertising while maintaining a significant search spend with a strong focus on optimisation. The ads are cheesy but they work, driving traffic direct to its website and also encouraging consumers to key in 'Webjet' to the Google search box. And this is one area you can rely on Google, a brand search will always return the brand. This has allowed Webjet to significantly reduce it search spend but most importanty lessen its vulnerability to the whims of Google.

Decide if you're a website or a business. If you've made the correct choice, and ticked the business box, start acting like one.


Kate Vale and Lars Rasmussen Leave Google

Kate Vale and Lars Rasmussen Leave Google
Kate Vale

Google, slow and clunky? Yes, but not the search engine. It's the Google bureaucracy people are complaining about, including two recent high profile departures from its Australian office - Kate Vale and Lars Rasmussen. Vale started Google's Australian office in her lounge room; Rasmussen is a co-founder of what became Google Maps.

"I think Google has become more corporate over the years," Vale told the Sydney Morning Herald. "When I started and when Lars started it was a much smaller company and it was a lot easier to get things done but companies change as they grow." Rasmussen is heading to Facebook and there's speculation Vale will do the same. See full story.


Google Instant - Another Money Making Ploy?

THE industry buzz around Google Instant - which throws up suggested search terms as users type in their query - is becoming increasing sceptical. The growing consensus is that it's designed to drive people into selecting the most popular - and therefore most expensive - search terms.

Research by Dr. Siddharth Shah, Director, Business Analytics at Efficient Frontier, shows that: "Of the 26 letters in the alphabet, 21 have brands as the first suggestions. Further, most of the other suggestions have brands too! If we are to accept Google’s statement about the logic behind Google Instant’s suggestions, most of us are searching for brands all the time."

Matthew Varley from last week said despite suggestions Google Instant would broaden consumer search "we are not seeing that at the moment" and it's resulting in "more hits for the 'head' (popular search terms) and more money for Google." October 26, 2010.


Rob Marston Joins Amplify

Rob Marston has left Starcom MediaVest Group to join Amplify Services as Commercial Director. His main responsibilities are ... "to refine the sales and strategy processes, drive product and innovation as well as increasing the value and depth of relationships with existing clients."


Yahoo Bing Integration Getting Closer

Yahoo Search Marketing has advised advertisers that integration work started this week on "transitioning the back-end technology for Yahoo! Search over to the Bing platform ... an important step toward improving the overall relevance of Yahoo! organic search results and attracting a larger audience to Yahoo! Search... We are currently testing it with a limited number of accounts." Yahoo warned there were no guarantees on timing. "As we've stated all along, our primary goal is to provide you with a quality transition experience in 2010, while protecting (Christmas shopping). We continue to make great strides .... however we may defer the transition to 2011." August 20, 2010.


Temsamani To Head Google Mobile Sales

Karim Temsamani, Managing Director of Google Australia and New Zealand, has been promoted to Head of Global Mobile Sales for the company. Based in Mountain View, Temsamani will have responsibility for building Google’s mobile advertising business. Google claims 200,000 new Android-powered devices are activated every day. No replacement has yet been announced for Temsamani. August 20, 2010.


Google Wave A Closeout

REALITY beats hype every time and Google has abandoned its Wave product after less than 12 months. The reason - not enough people were using it despite a tsunami of geek-generated publicity on launch. Wave was supposed to be a breakthrough combining email and instant messaging to facilitate sharing of rich content like documents, maps, images and video. More...


Willie Pang Joins Amplify

Significant changes at search marketing agency Amplify. Willie Pang, former MD of Yahoo Search, has joined as CEO allowing founder and co-owner Tom Petryshen to move into the Director of Search role. Meanwhile, former Head of Sales Brent Eaton has left to form his own company, Sales Sauce.July 14, 2010.


Google Reveals AdSense Revenue Share

Google has finally revealed that it shares 68% of AdSense revenue with its publisher partners. Thus endeth a mystery that's been around since the product was launched back in 2003. And so another veil is lifted as the big (brother) web brands strive for "greater transparency" while at the same time harvesting data many consumers consider personal. Contradictory? Not at all. This is business. More...


Search ,Classified, Directories Grow

ONLINE advertising now accounts for up to 50% of total ad budgets, according to IAB Australia.  Search, classified and directories remain the strongest online sectors while online display suffered a seasonal decline of 11% over the December quarter.  The Online Advertising Expenditure Report (OAER) compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said online ad revenue grew 17% in the first three months of 2010, totalling $512.5 million. Search Engine Room, May 11, 2010.


Google Tweaks Search Display

Google has tweaked the look and feel of its search results. The biggest change is adding left-hand navigation to the results page. "This new side panel highlights the most relevant search tools and refinements," wrote Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products and User Experience at  Google. "Over the past three  years, we've launched Universal Search, the Search Options panel and Google Squared, and it’s those three technologies that power the left-hand panel. We’ve (also) updated our look and feel in terms of our color palette and our logo. These changes are slight, keeping our page minimalist and whimsical, but make our overall look more modern." See blog post. Search Engine Room, May 7, 2010. 


AdLux Signs Group M and Gumtree

New search advertising network AdLux has signed Group M and Gumtree as clients. The Group M win means AdLux could run campaigns from clients of its subsidiary companies Mindshare, MediaCom, Mediaedge:cia and search agency Outrider. Exisiting AdLux advertisers include Telstra and Reprise Media. Adlux claims to be the third largest Aussie search marketing network behind Google and Yahoo. SER, April 30, 2010.


Account Wins For e-Channel and FirstRate

INCUMBENT agency e-Channel has retained the massive Flight Centre paid search account, estimated to be in the region of $10m. Meanwhile, FirstRate has had a few wins. Financial derivative provider IG Markets has contracted FirstRate to handle its search marketing and it's also won the SEO work for online auction outfit Grays Online and online comparison site Search Engine Room, April 22, 2010 


Google Gets Into Hotel Meta-Search

By Martin Kelly

AFTER years of speculation Google has finally made its move into travel meta-search by offering hotel price comparison on Google Maps. "Today we started experimenting with a new feature, visible to a small  portion of users, by showing specific prices for selected hotel listings," the company said. "When you search for hotels on Google Maps you'll be able to enter the dates you plan to stay and see real prices on selected listings. You can click on the price to see a list of advertisers who have provided pricing information for that hotel, indicated by the "Sponsored" text, and click through to reserve a room on the advertiser’s site." Search Engine Room, March 24, 2009.


Flight Centre Paid Search Up For Grabs

Flight Centre Paid Search Up For Grabs

Story update: e-Channel has retained the account.

The massive Flight Centre paid search account – which covers several sites and worth in excess of $10m a year – is up for grabs with a decision expected over the next couple of weeks. Several agencies are fighting it out, including the incumbent, e-Channel.  Flight Centre is renowned as an aggressive marketer no matter what the platform. has been consistently ranked in the top two travel agencies by Experian Hitwise due to its strong brand and heavy paid search spend, which is probably only second to the airlines – Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Blue – and maybe some accommodation sites such as 

Flight Centre’s other sites, Escape Travel and Student Flights, also rank well. Meanwhile, Sydney company Switched On Media has won Flight Centre’s Search Engine Optimisation business and reports good early results. Search Engine Room: March 9, 2010.


European Courts, Legislators Turn Against Google

GOOGLE, and social media for that matter, is under legislative attack in Europe. The contentious conviction by an Italian court today of three Google execs for allowing the download of a video in which an autistic boy is bullied came just a day or two after news broke that the European Commission has started an anti-trust (abuse of power) investigation. That’s not all. According to, the company is also the target of an anti-trust action initiated by Italian newspaper publishers who say Google unfairly keeps them from making money from online advertising; Germany has a similar case ongoing, while a government-commissioned panel in France recently began a related inquiry.  See Google's response to the Italian verdict here. Search Engine Room, February 25, 2010.


First Rate Signs With Ignite Search

First Rate Signs With Ignite Search
Jon Ostler

Leading search marketing agency First Rate has made a move into the technology space by signing a regional licensing agreement with US company SearchIgnite which has developed a suite of advanced paid search bid management and campaign tracking tools.

SearchIgnite software optimises US$400 million in campaigns and manages more than 50 million keywords for some of the world’s leading marketers.

First Rate is an Australian search industry pioneeer with clients are spread over 50 industries including retail / e-tail, financial services, education, energy, travel, and software solutions. Search Engine Room, 11 February, 2010


Bumper Results for Google

Google has just announced another massive result driven almost entirely by plain old AdWords and AdSense. The official announcement focused on 2009 fourth quarter revenue - US$6.67 billion, up 17% on 2008 ... 66% of which came from Google-owned sites and 31% from networked ads; 53% of revenues were generated outside the US. Average cost per click is up 5% year-on-year while the company has hoarded an extra US$10bn in cash with some US$25bn in the bank at Dec 31 compared with US$15bn the previous year. Staff numbers were also down - 19,835 compared with 20,123 due to measures such as closing its Melbourne office in Australia, which cost 15 jobs. Search Engine Room, January 25, 2010.


China Fight Good Not Bad For Google

Google's threat to pull out of China following some recent large-scale cyber attacks on its sites there is proving to be a PR masterstroke that has completely changed coverage of the company. Suddenly Google is a freedom fighter rather than Big Brother reincarnated. Google as David in a fight against Goliath. Pretty funny I reckon, especially when you consider that Google was so eager to get into China it agreed to censor its results and has been accused of passing sensitive information to very government it is now "rebelling" against. Suddenly Google has found its conscience regarding freedom of speech. More...


Social Web Goes Mainstream

THE real time web has now moved into the mainstream with Google results set to incorporate certain status messages from users of Facebook and News Corp's MySpace in addition to Tweets from Twitterers (which have been appearing since at least March this year). "I would say that real time search is the natural evolution of universal search," said Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience. Google is also set to update its search algorithm to reward sites that download quickly. No word when but speculation is after the online Christmas rush. Search Engine Room, December 9, 2009. 


Display On Ropes As Search Sets Agenda

DIGITAL display advertising appears to be in steep decline – or at the very least suffering an identity crisis. Over the past week a major analyst has claimed publishers were cutting their own throats by discounting and switching to Click Through Rates (CTR) over space rental , while the Flossie Media Group, which counts a number of female-skewed sites as network members, will no longer offer its publishers display advertising.



Paid Search Content May Become A Reality

THE paid content debate – ignited by media warlord Rupert Murdoch – has taken an intriguing twist with reports that Microsoft’s Bing search engine may pay News Corporation and other major publishers for exclusive crawling access to their sites, thereby locking Google out and giving Bing a major point of difference.  Very, very interesting. Search Engine Room, Nov 26, 2009.


Photo Wrap on Search Engine Room 2009

Some of the action from Search Engine Room 2009, held in Sydney recently. It was a great day with plenty of relevant content, entertaining speakers and excellent networking. See more pix...


A Year Is A Long Time In Search

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room

This coming Christmas, the Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates that Australian advertisers will splurge $500m on online advertising.

Of that, based on IAB market share figures, around $250m will be spent on Search advertising - far more than any other sector - and significantly more than last year.

Clearly, as will be revealed at Search Engine Room on November 18, 2009 has been a definitive year for search.

Search has won the online advertising war and its domination is set to continue through 2010.

So it seemed like the right time to post a personal overview about the industry that is defining online advertising.

Search Works, There’s No Mystery

The reason Search is winning is simple – it works better than the alternatives, even though old school advertising hacks (and the odd romantic) insist otherwise. You see, there is no real scope for creativity. Just a relentless focus on numbers and results measured through Return On Investment. Despite increased competition, it also remains relatively cheap. That said, it’s not unusual for companies to spend $20m or more a year on search advertising.
The Google Machine

It’s the definition of efficiency, a numbers driven juggernaut with no room or time for sentimentality; creator of amazing technology that defines how we see the world, a hard-core business that makes billions.

Welcome to the Google Machine, which through its absolute domination has changed the rules on how to do business – and how business is done. Yet 2009 has been a testing year for Google Australia,.

While it has more than 90% market share, and probably made more money in Australia this year than last, fair to say it is no longer uniformly revered.

People love the core product and add-ons like Maps and Earth but are becoming increasingly leery of Google’s power and ubiquitousness – Google is everywhere, there’s nowhere to hide.

Here in Australia Google’s approach remains reserved but friendly, isolationist rather than expansionist. Over the past 18 months there’s no question the business has turned inward, away from the industries it serves.

The Google halo also slipped a little this year when 15 staff lost their jobs after the Melbourne and NZ offices were closed as part of a global cull which shed 200 sales and marketing people.

Yet sales of its products have continued to rise and automation now does the work of the dearly departed. What a business!

Return On Investment

Advertisers love search because it is measurable. Publishers hate search because it is measureable. No contradiction here.

The harsh financial climate has seen a shift to ‘performance based advertising’ where results can be clearly measured.

This is probably the start of a fundamental long-term trend that is already causing serious angst among big publishers such as Jack Matthews from Fairfax Digital who likes nothing better than a big, flashy and very expensive branding campaign.

“Direct response is easy to measure and clicks represent the low hanging fruit of measurement,” Matthews said. “While direct response advertising can be effective, the over emphasis on the last click is undermining ... effective brand building.”

Surprisingly, Matthews has some support for this point of view among the search marketing community.

No question though that the Return On Investment mentality is here to stay.

The big issue is how major digital publishers adapt their ad models yet maintain revenue.

Growing Pains

The massive growth in paid search advertising has created a few issues for search advertisers.

A big one is search inflation thanks to increased competition for important keywords.

Depending on who you speak with, the cost of popular keywords on Google has increased by up to 300% in the last three or four years.

This is a worry but evolving ROI metrics ensure the companies can always find a way to justify the Cost Per Click.

Aligned to this is a swing back to popular, more expensive terms (because they work) away from the so-called Long Tail.

Sure, Search might be expensive but it’s still cheaper than the alternatives.

Where is Yahoo!

Yahoo! has been quiet. It’s had a tough year with job losses and poor results.

As in the United States search is very much a secondary priority to display advertising on the Yahoo!7 portal.

For example, of the 17 press releases Yahoo!7 has issued in Australia this year, only one was about search.

And even that was something of a mopping up operation that pretty much summed up its Search woes.

It concerned the launch of Yahoo!7 Local, a joint venture with News Digital company

Both were both jilted when Google and Sensis hooked up.

Business listings from the massive Sensis-owned Yellow online business directory displaced True Local listings on Google Maps.

Yahoo! Search Marketing, the long-term supplier of ad content to, was also brushed, shoved aside by the rampant Google AdSense.

AdSense is now on most major Australian publishing sites - Sensis, News Digital Media, Fairfax – leaving YSM with Yahoo, Ninemsn and Bing.

Exactly how things are progressing at YSM is difficult to know. A couple of emails to local boss Willie Pang have gone unanswered.

Bing Bong – Is Anyone There?

There’s been no discernible impact of the Aussie search market by the arrival of Bing, the new search engine developed by Microsoft.

No-one talks seriously about it, only in the abstract.

One day Bing and Yahoo hope to unite and take on Google. But that’s subject to US Government approval and could take more than a year.

Consequently, each company is now entwined in some kind of search twilight zone.

Certainly Bing’s local approach is hard to read.

It is being run by Alex Parsons at Ninemsn who has no enthusiasm to connect with the trade.

Based on available evidence, it’s unlikely this approach will change any time soon.

What’s Happening in Agency Land 

Overall it’s been a pretty good year for search marketing and optimisation agencies, though there have been redundancies – especially among sale staff that don’t hit their targets.

But the work is still out there and the better agencies are growing strongly as more companies get involved.

Agencies report increased focus on Search Engine Optimisation strategies among advertisers intimidated by rising PPC costs on Google.

But as the economy has improved, paid search has made a comeback.

There is also increasing specialisation among agencies with many of the bigger ones now solely focussing on paid search, where technology rules.


Amplify Wins Major Travel Account

Search marketing company Amplify has won another major travel account - AOT Holidays, which includes, Need To Escape, Sunlover Holidays, NSW Holidays and Travel Mate. Amplify will manage search across all brands with a focus on lifting conversions and revenue. Amplify already has a strong travel presence, working with Webjet, Europcar and Mondial Assistance. In other news, Amplify was also recently appointed to do the SEO for Crazy Sales, a fast-growing online retailer from Melbourne.


Bing Maps To Nowhere

Funny story from Aussie blogger Tim Hughes on Bing Maps. Hughes, who is also a well respected online industry exec, wanted to pinpoint a Sydney location, typed in an exact address but ended up on an aboriginal reservation in the middle of nowhere. Then he tried again... Full story.


Sorting SEO Hype From Reality

There’s plenty of hype and half-truths surrounding SEO, which some see as something of dark, semi-secret art rather than an often straight forward strategy of raising a website’s organic profile. Here is a list of the top 10 SEO myths compiled by Michael Estrin from iMedia Connection:

1) SEO is all about secret tactics; 2) SEO means optimizing only for Google;  3) Submitting your sites to thousands of directories helps; 4) SEO is free;  5) Keywords need to appear everywhere; 6) SEO is a one-time event for a website; 7) SEO will take years to return results; 8) Page Rank is the critical measure of a site’s success; 9) Accessibility doesn’t really matter; 10) Google has an adversarial relationship with web masters and publishers.  See full story.


Social Threatens Search For Most Popular

THE status of search as the most popular web sector in Australia is under threat from social media media sites. "The overall trend we are seing is social networks catching up very quickly to search as being the most visited sector online," Alan Long from Hitwise said. "Facebook's growth over the past three months has been quite extraordinary ... since June this year its share has increased by almost 40%, so they're on quite a steep incline." Search Engine Room: October 19, 2009


Social Media Can Drive Search

Social Media Can Drive Search
Chris Copeland

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room

New research reveals that savvy brand marketing through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can have a significant positive influence over search behaviour. The GroupM study shows that searchers who had engaged with “brand influenced” social media are 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand’s product than those who saw only paid search, while click through rates (CTR) increased 50%.

“This research clearly shows a direct correlation between social media and paid search,” wrote research author Chris Copeland, CEO of GroupM Search – The Americas. “This is an important learning because it helps situate social media in the marketing landscape – not as a conversion or direct response channel, but rather as an exposure and awareness vehicle."



Search Engines 'Content Kleptomaniacs'

Search Engines
Rupert Murdoch

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room

YET more harsh words – but little or no action – from media baron Rupert Murdoch about “content kleptomaniacs” – aka search engines such as Google. "The aggregators and plagiarists will soon have to pay a price for the co-opting of our content,” Mr Murdoch told the World Media Summit in Beijing last week. He warned that unless publishers started charging for stories “it will be the content creators who pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs who triumph."

Interesting and aggressive but somewhat of an empty threat, I think. Whether online publishers like it or not, search engines probably do them more good than harm, sending huge numbers of visitors to publisher websites, thereby allowing them to charge high advertising rates and make more money. Another point worth noting is the fact that irate publishers already have the power to stop search engines crawling their sites but most (as in 99.9%) don’t. Why? I think you know the answer. Search Engine Room, October 10, 2009


Auction Model Dumped in Local Search Trial

IN an interesting move, Google has dropped its ad auction model and is trialling set monthly rates for local advertising in two key US markets, San Francisco and San Diego. The rate is set by Google based on appropriate keyword averages and is designed to make the decisions simpler for businesses – such as plumbers, carpenters, hairdressers - used to the classified advertising model, which is in this case is the competition. No plans to extend it at this stage.Search Engine Room, October 15, 2009. Full story at Ad Age.


Searchworld Raises Quality, Lowers Profits

Australian search advertising network, Searchworld, had a “fickle” 12 months to June 30, losing $322,749 compared with a profit of almost $600k the previous financial year. Management said the poor performance (revenue was down 14%) was partly attributable to the company trying to improve its search traffic. This meant “forgoing traffic from low quality sources” with the aim of making more money from higher conversion rates over time.

“The search advertising industry, whilst growing and representing significant opportunity, is also an immature industry that is evolving and consolidating, and as such Searchworld remains an exciting but relatively speculative business,” owner Webfirm said in its recent annual report. Searchworld delivers search ad feeds to search engines, portals, directory publishers, parked domains, downloadable applications and ad networks. It also owns the and search engines. Search Engine Room: September 21, 2009


Carol Bartz The 'Sarah Palin of Search'

Carol Bartz The
Bartz: 'Sarah Palin of Search'

Search guru Danny Sullivan has taken a big swing at Yahoo! boss Carol Bartz, describing her as the “Sarah Palin of search. “I watch her do these TV interviews, and she’s got this “aw shucks” and “straight shooting” delivery that makes you want to believe in the things she’s saying, regardless of how they’re being spun. I just find it irritating.

“I also find it amazing. Bartz is working so hard to marginalize search (last I looked, the second most popular internet activity after doing email). She’s working so hard to say that Yahoo has to give things up to Microsoft. What if she can’t dump search? What’s the Plan B? How do you recover running search on your own after having chopped off your own legs?”


Search Drives Digital Ad Spend in Australia

Search Drives Digital Ad Spend in Australia
Paul Fisher, IAB

SEARCH continues to drive Australia's online marketing industry, latest IAB Australia research reveals. The IAB's new digital marketing report also shows that Australia’s online advertising market recorded strong, double digit growth year on year of 18.5% for the full financial year.

The report, compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), showed that online advertising expenditure in Australia for the financial year ending June 30 2009 exceeded $1.8 billion and totalled $453 million for second-quarter 2009 (three months ended 30 June 2009).

For the full financial year, Search and Directories accounted for 49 percent of the total advertising expenditure, while General Display accounted for 27% and Classifieds 24%. Search and directories grew 25% for the full financial year; general display grew 19.6% and classifieds 6%.

Overall Q2 activity showed an increase of 9.8% from Q2 2008, with Search and Directories increasing 19% quarter on quarter, while General Display increased 10 percent and Classifieds decreased 5.9%.

“Search continues to drive the growth in the industry, with display advertising also well supported," said Paul Fisher, CEO of IAB Australia. Search Engine Room, August 10, 2009


Yahoo and Microsoft Join Forces in Search

Yahoo and Microsoft Join Forces in Search
Carol Bartz, Yahoo, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft

The big news, in case you’ve been living under a rock: Yahoo! and Microsoft have signed a 10 year deal under which their search businesses will unite and become one, in theory better able to compete with Google.“In simple terms, Microsoft will now power Yahoo search while Yahoo will become the exclusive sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers,” the companies’ said. Most interesting that Yahoo has effectively conceded Microsoft can do a better job on the search technology front. It seems less an admission of defeat than recognition of reality. “This agreement gives us the scale and resources to create the future of search,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement. The deal works on a revenue share basis and will take at least a couple of years to gain proper traction. Search Engine Room, July 30, 2009


News, Fairfax Angry at 'Google Real Estate'

News, Fairfax Angry at

GOOGLE’S entry into the Australian real estate listings market has reportedly angered two of its biggest advertisers, News Limited and Fairfax Media.

They dominate the sector, worth an estimated $144m each year in ad revenue, through (Fairfax) and (News). Around 30% of their traffic comes from Google, according to Hitwise.

Greg Ellis, Chief Executive of Real Estate Australia, told the Sydney Morning Herald that Google wanted to have it both ways.

Lloyd Whish-Wilson from Fairfax said: “We are looking at our options at the moment. We are obviously not keen to support a would be competitor with our revenue.”



New Blood At FirstClick

Respected search industry executives Mark Armstrong and Stuart Bartram have joined Sydney agency FirstClick. Armstrong will be based on Melbourne and focus on growing FirstClick’s presence in that market while Bartram has been appointed Head of Business Development based in Sydney. Both men have extensive industry experience. Armstrong started his online career at LookSmart in 1997 and for the past three years had been working in a senior role with Google. Bartram joins FirstClick after most recently heading up business development for Doubleclick. Search Engine Room: July 22, 2009


Twitter Having A Big Impact on Web Traffic

Twitter Having A Big Impact on Web Traffic

TWITTER now having a real impact on search. Tweets are starting to show strongly in results while users are increasingly deploying the medium to highlight web items of interest. The shift is well summed by Steve Johnson in an article for Time. Here's an edited highlight:

Skeptics might wonder just how much subversion and wit is conveyable via 140-character updates. But in recent months Twitter users have begun to find a route around that limitation by employing Twitter as a pointing device instead of a communications channel: sharing links to longer articles, discussions, posts, videos — anything that lives behind a URL. Websites that once saw their traffic dominated by Google search queries are seeing a growing number of new visitors coming from "passed links" at social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This is what the naysayers fail to understand: it's just as easy to use Twitter to spread the word about a brilliant 10,000-word New Yorker article as it is to spread the word about your Lucky Charms habit.



Bingo - New Microsoft Search Engine

MICROSOFT has launched a new search engine called Bing that's not too bad at all. The search results appear fast, acurate and - most importantly - relevant. Lot of publicity surrounding it as well so may get some consumer traction. It does a few things differently and is well worth checking out. The search space certainly needs some competition.


Google Cries Poor, Loses Money in Oz!

Google Cries Poor, Loses Money in Oz!

GOOGLE claims to be operating at a loss in Australia despite having 90% market share.

The reason, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, is that Google's Australian earnings are sent to Ireland where it is taxed at 12.5% before a service fee is reptriated back.

Anomaly 1: Google says it grossed just $A90m in Australia last year. Yet it has more than 90% share of the paid search market, which is estimated by leading industry figures to be worth $A870m in 2008. Do the math.

Anomaly 2: Google reported a loss of $A6.2m in Australia for 2008. It also lost money in 2007. Meanwhile the search market is going ballistic and everyone’s complaining about search inflation. Huh?

Anomaly 3: Google paid Australian tax to the Australian Government of $A3.9m in 2008 – less than some of its Australian clients would pay them each year for search advertising, and also less than its “travel and entertainment” bill of $A4.6m.

The industry reckons Google will take more than $1 billion from Aussie advertisers this year.

Wonder what Google will report?

Meanwhile, the company refused to comment on the discrapancies.

See full story in Sydney Morning Herald.

Search Engine Room: May 25, 2009


Search Stays Strong As Market Weakens

SEARCH strong, classifieds weak, display ok. That’s a quick snapshot of the latest online advertising expenditure figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Australia. The IAB estimates Australian businesses invested A$440m in online advertising during the March quarter – 14% more than the previous year.

Search and Directories, now the biggest category with more than 50% share of spend, was up 23% (A$225m), Display 16% (A$110m), while the classified sector fell 1% to A$105m. Encouraging results given economic conditions but the picture’s not so pretty when comparing March with the December quarter, revealing a 5% overall drop. Click for full story


Old Clients Pay for New at Yahoo, Google

SEARCH inflation could be fuelled by massive advertising giveaways from Google and Yahoo! Google started the ball rolling by offer new clients $75 in AdWords advertising. Soon after Yahoo! up the ante to $150 with the same proviso – that current clients were not eligible. Supposedly there are 1.5m eligible businesses in Australia.

Justin Hind, from search marketing agency Downstream, told The Australian this means existing customers are effectively paying for their rivals to trial the medium. "There's marginal cost (to Yahoo and Google) because they're not producing anything," Mr Hind said. "They could reap all of their revenue back just from 3-5 per cent price inflation.” And get a lot of free PR. Search Engine Room: May 5, 2009


Behavioural Issues for Google 'Frenemies'

Behavioural Issues for Google
Rupert Murdoch ... suspicious

By Julian Lee, Marketing Editor, SMH

HOW much longer can Google maintain its ambiguous status of "frenemy" is a question many in the media are asking. As the behemoth moves into other areas of advertising it will inevitably come into further conflict with already combative media owners such as Rupert Murdoch who have every reason to be suspicious of its motives.

At the moment the quid pro quo is that Google serves up a relevant search and the media owners get the traffic; about a billion clicks a month to news websites globally. Google also places its text ads to appear on web pages on its content network. But that you-scratch-my-back-and-I-scratch-yours could end later this year when Google moves into behavioural targeting. Full Story in Sydney Morning Herald.


Paid Seach Doubles In Past Year for Accom

Paid Seach Doubles In Past Year for Accom
Sean Smith, HotelClub

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room 

PAID search advertising volumes have doubled for the accommodation industry in the past year. Latest Hitwise stats for the Australian market presented at No Vacancy show the most dramatic increase came from suppliers struggling to gain visibility in an increasingly crowed market place.

“There’s been a dramatic shift in the past six months – bidding is a lot more aggressive,” says Sean Smith from HotelClub.“We have a very heavy spend on Pay Per Click and our ability to maintain profit has been massively reduced.”

But it still works and, like other big search advertisers, rather than reducing PPC spend, HotelClub is developing better strategies to extract better value from the medium which can chew up thousands of dollars for no return if bidding approach is flawed.



New Head of Search at e-Channel

New Head of Search at e-Channel
Guy Wayland

Guy Wayland has left the uncertain world of consulting to join e-Channel as Head of Search. Wayland will be based in Sydney.

The company said Wayland’s focus is on marketing messages and copy writing.

Wayland is well known in Australia’s search industry, working at Decide Interactive before starting WMS Consulting. Search Engine Room: April 7, 2009


Advertisers Shift to Performance

Advertisers Shift to Performance
Rohan Lund, Yahoo!7

TRADITIONAL banner advertising is coming under pressure with advertisers increasingly switching to performance-based payment arrangements.“There’s been a massive shift to performance in this quarter,” Yahoo!7 Chief Executive Rohan Lund told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Meanwhile, research by Eyeblaster suggest consumers are reluctant to click on banners because they want to stay put. “People just don’t look at a banner and convert,” Mick O’Brien, director of operations for EyeBlaster APAC, told The Australian. “You are really looking at five steps leading to a conversion.” Search Engine Room: April 3, 2009


Microsoft Tests New Search Engine, Kumo

Microsoft Tests New Search Engine, Kumo

Microsoft is testing a new internet search engine. Code-named Kumo, it is reportedly based on semantic technology, theoretically enabling it to understand sentences and relationships between words. Current search engines simply match words typed into search boxes with those found at websites. At this early stage it’s unclear if Kumo will replace Microsoft’s existing search engine,, or launch as a fresh entity.

Right now it’s being tested by Microsoft employees. "We believe we can provide a better and more useful search experience that helps you not just search but accomplish tasks," Microsoft senior vice president Satya Nadella told staff. He claimed people using search engine online often don't find what they seek and that Internet hunts take more than 20 minutes in nearly 50% of cases. "During the test, features will vary by country, but you'll see results organized in a way that saves you more time." Search Engine Room, March 5, 2009


Oz Search Spend Up 27% in Dec Quarter

Search and directories advertising spend in Australia for the December quarter increased 27% over the previous year, according to the latest research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. It is by far the fastest-growing advertising sector and now has a 48.5% share of Australia’s digital advertising market. The IAB estimates $806.5m was spent on search and directories advertising throughout 2008, 30% more than 2007, a slower growth rate than in the past but still extremely impressive. Sector spend has increased from $45m in 2002 to $806.5m in 2008 – annual growth of 63%. Search Engine Room: 10 Feb, 2009


Shopping Search Surge Over Christmas

Shopping Search Surge Over Christmas

Google Australia reports a 20% increase in search volume for shopping search during January compared with the previous year.This follows a pre-Christmas surge of 36%. Booze, food, clothing, camera and video were the fastest-growing categories during the annual December frenzy. Other key findings include:

  • Clothing retailers made up the largest set of the top 100 searches, followed by electronics retailers, multi-category retailers, and jewellers
  • Own-label retailers (e.g. Sportsgirl, Country Road) are the most popular clothing retailers -- they make up 40% of the clothing searches
  • The Most popular searches for catalogues were for Target and Kmart
  • "Westfield", "Chadstone" and "Doncaster" were among the most searched shopping centres

Research from the Monash Cente for Retail Studies last year claimed 50% of shoppers researched online before heading out. Search Engine Room: February 5, 2009


Search Strong, Google Growth Continues

Search Strong, Google Growth Continues
Eric Schmidt

GOOGLE’S growth has continued despite the global recession. Highlights of its December quarter results include excellent growth in paid clicks - 18% more than the previous year, and 10% up on the September quarter.

“Search query growth was strong, revenues were up in most verticals, and we successfully contained costs,” said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

“It's unclear how long the global downturn will last, but our focus remains on the long term, and we'll continue to invest in Google's core search and ads business as well as in strategic growth areas such as display, mobile, and enterprise.”

On another note, it appears that Google’s helter-skelter staffing frenzy has come to an end with the company reporting it “employed 20,222 full-time employees as of December 31, 2008, up from 20,123 full-time employees as of September 30, 2008.”

Search Engine Room: January 23, 2009


Display Gives Search The Edge

Display Gives Search The Edge

Search marketing performs much better when supported by digital display advertising. That’s the clear conclusion from recent research into what has historically been a very hot topic. A Specific Media study of comScore data showed that brand- and segment-related searches (for cars, automakers and vehicle classes) jumped by more than 100% in several categories after consumers were exposed to display ads for those brands.  Meanwhile, a study of Microsoft’s Engagement Mapping system by Atlas Solutions showed that search clickers exposed to display advertising were 22% more likely to produce a sale. David Hallerman, senior analyst at eMarketer, agreed and commented: “Often it’s not the search ad alone that gets consumers to act, but the context of all the marketing that preceded it.” Search Engine Room: January 15, 2009


Google US Domination Increases

GOOGLE increased its US market share to 72.1% of all search engine queries for December, a year-on-year increase of almost 10%, according to new research from Hitwise. The Google juggernaut took market share from all competitors, most notably Yahoo – a distant second with 17.8% share, almost 15% less than the previous year. Yahoo’s former suitor, Microsoft, finished third with 5.6% (down from 7%). came next 3.4% (down from 4.1%). According to a recent IDC study, Google now has 54% of US search advertising spending. Search Engine Room: January 14, 2009


True Local, Yahoo Jilted by Google, Sensis

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room

True Local and Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) have been sidelined by the new Google-Sensis alliance.

The partnership will see business listings from the massive Yellow online business directory displace True Local listings on Google Maps from January. The True Local-Google agreement was non-financial with the News Digital Media owned company supplying the data in return for profile.

NDM has made no official comment, although the unofficial spin, carried in The Australian, is that the Google arrangement was providing less than 1% of True Local’s traffic. It’s interesting to note that uses Google Maps while NDM news sites carry Google AdSense content.

Yahoo! Search Marketing, the long-term supplier of ad content to, has also been displaced. From early 2009 Google AdSense will replace YSM as the co-supplier (with the Sensis-owned BidSmart search marketing platform) of contextual advertising on and the BidSmart network.

A Sensis spokesperson said no changes were currently planned to BidSmart and that its Click Manager product, which buys ads for clients on Sensis, Google and Yahoo!7, would also be retained. Search Engine Room: November 10, 2008


The Dumbest Affiliate Request Ever?

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room

I HAVE  a couple of websites and, like everyone, get crap through my inbox all the time, but rarely is it as silly as the following.

Hi, I  liked your site being both Hebrew related sites  I was hoping we could collaborate and help you increase your monthly incomes... I invite you to earn a share of the revenues, generated from your referrals, by driving traffic to Looking forward to hear from you…

Best Regards,
Kathy Raytsin

How dumb is that? 


Google Walks Away from Yahoo Ad Deal

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room

GOOGLE has walked away from its controversial advertising distribution deal with Yahoo. Under the proposed arrangement, which aroused immense regulatory suspicion, Google ads would have been served on Yahoo and its network sites in a move that many believed would effectively end competition between the formerly fierce rivals.

The resulting outcry has prompted Google to reassess the value of such a relationship. In the end the search giant decided the potential damage to its brand wasn’t worth the money it could make.

“It's clear that government regulators and some advertisers continue to have concerns about the agreement,” said David Drummond, Google’s Senior Vice President Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer. “Pressing ahead risked not only a protracted legal battle but also damage to relationships with valued partners. That wouldn't have been in the long term interests of Google or our users, so we have decided to end the agreement.”

The Google decision is another blow for Yahoo, the target of an aborted takeover by Microsoft earlier this year. “Yahoo! is disappointed that Google has elected to withdraw from the agreement rather than defend it in court,” the company said. Google pulled out after the Department of Justice said that it would seek to block it, “despite Yahoo!'s proposed revisions to address the DOJ's concerns.” Analysts estimated the agreement could have generated up to US$450m for Yahoo in the first year alone. Search Engine Room: November 7, 2008


Sensis, Google Sign Massive Search Deal

GOOGLE and Sensis today announced Australia’s biggest-ever search marketing agreement. Under the deal, Google will power web search and text advertising for and partner sites such as Big Pond. In return, listings from the Sensis business directory, Yellow, by far Australia’s largest, will be integrated into Google Maps.

Both initiatives are scheduled to start early next year and the implications are significant. The biggest is that after many years of attempting to develop its own search engine, Sensis has decided to let Google do the job. It means that from early 2009, Australia will have only two search engines – Google and Yahoo! – and that Google’s market share will increase even further to well beyond 90%. Search Engine Room: November 3, 2008


No Comparison In Search War of Words

No Comparison In Search War of Words
Apples with Apples...

By Martin Kelly, Search Engine Room

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Or at the very least they start looking for value.

Fresh Hitwise research shows that consumers are increasingly focussing on the bottom line when searching for product or services online.

A new study reveals that search variations on ‘compare’, ‘discount’ and ‘prices’ have increased by the largest margins over the past two years, growing in volume by 119.4%, 83.33% and 79.13% respectively.

Insurance, financial services, travel and retail are the most popular industries for comparison searches.

The same report – Maximising Search During an Economic Downturn – also advocates the use of strong, offer-specific landing pages. Some tips include:

1. Use images to create strong messages.
2. Include a call to action.
3. Be as targeted as possible – don’t be afraid to create different landing pages for each offer.
4. Avoid using extended signup forms and collecting too much personal information.
5. Use PPC to test everything, including buttons, sizes, positioning and colours.
6. Keep your design consistent with the rest of the website.
7. Design with Search Engine Optimisation principles in mind.

“The key to figuring out what type of landing page works best for your business is constant testing and tweaking,” Hitwise advises. “Start with simple changes and measure the effect these have on your conversion rate.

“You may also want to consider trying more radical changes such as making the landing page free-standing and not part of the main site to avoid leakage; this results in people staying engaged with the offer and not getting sidetracked.” Search Engine Room: October 23, 2008


It's Over, Finished, Obsolete, Redundant ...


By Frank Grasso, e-Channel

Automated bid management is dead – now let's bloody well bury it!

I publicly challenge anyone to tackle me on this debate. I am ready and waiting! I have been saying that Automated Bid Management is the root of all that is evil in Paid Search for years to anyone that would listen - but not too many have to date. 

One of the reasons for this is that bid management is perceived to control budgets and cost per acquisitions. This could not be further from the truth! Automated Bid Management came about shortly after the birth of Paid Search and was useful at the time. 

Overture (now Yahoo) and Google were nothing more than an auction system where one advertiser bid against another and the one with more money won the battle.

Automated Bid Management was innovative then but the world has moved on. In fact, if you are using automated bid management as a search solution it could be driving up your cost per acquisition and killing off your opportunity to grow market share. Let me explain why.



Lookle Discovers No Charity In Business

AUSSIE search engine is shutting down it patented donation system due to high overheads and low advertising income. In an email to users, Lookle management said it could no longer afford the technical expenses required to keep the donation system “100% accurate”. The email also said there had been “minimal growth in the number of core users actually performing searches” over the past 18 months.

“We suspect this is due to the sheer dominance and extra features of other search engines,” the email said. “We would sincerely like to thank those users that were dedicated and loyal to the Donations System, and advise that those charities eligible to receive amounts raised will certainly be paid.” The donation system allowed people to nominate a charity that received income from their searches. will continue to operate with search powered by Yahoo! Search Engine Room, September 26, 2008


Top 10 or Bust - The Rest Don't Matter

Top 10 or Bust - The Rest Don
Karen Grinter, Global Reviews

How important is it to get in the Top 10 listings on search engines? A recent study of almost 100 internet users by Global Reviews showed that not a single person went to the second page of Google if they didn’t find what they wanted on the first page; they simply did another search.

Senior Analyst Karen Grinter also revealed that when set two specific online tasks - find the cheapest flight from Tullamarine Airport Melbourne to Perth, and the cheapest Brisbane hotel near the Botanic Gardens –half the users went straight to a search engine.

Once there, Grinter said 37% entered the actual website name rather than a search term. “Some behaved as if search engines are the web,” Grinter said. In other search engine findings, Global Reviews found that 18% clicked on the paid search advertisements. Search Engine Room: September 10, 2008


Search News Briefs

WEBJET SPENDS A$2m ON SEARCH: Search is big business – any doubts about that were erased by the annual report from online travel retailer Webjet, which revealed that it had spent around A$2m on search marketing during 2007/08, about 25% up on the previous 12 months. Pretty much all of that would be going to Google. Not bad, eh, A$2m from a single client.

SENSIS OPTIMISES YELLOW LISTINGS: Listings in Australia’s biggest online business directory,  are now able to be crawled and indexed by search engines for the first time. Sensis GM Online Search and Directories, Chris Smith, said: “This initiative takes Yellow a giant step further by taking adavantage of he popularity of search engines and using them as another channel through which Yellow listings can be found”.

PRIME NOW FEATURES YAHOO! The websites of regional broadcaster Prime Media Group now feature Yahoo!7 Search, Maps and Answers content. Prime has websites focussed on the major regional centres of Canberra, Wollongong and Newcastle. It will launch new sites in the next two months.

PUBLICIS GROUPE BUYS PERFORMICS: Google has sold the Performics search marketing business to one of the world's largest advertising groups, Publicis Groupe. Google had always intended to sell the operation after buying parent company DoubleClick. Performics employs 200 staff in all major markets.


Controversial Google Search Feature Launched in Australia and NZ

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room

GOOGLE has introduced its contentious ‘search within a search’ feature to the Australian and NZ markets. The feature was first rolled out in the US and UK earlier this year, where it met strong opposition.

The secondary search box only appears when users search for a major brand such as the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age or Qantas. Using The Age as an example, the box appears below the primary listing with a button that says: ‘search’. Type in ‘jobs’ and the organic listings will be from The Age website.

But the paid results are from any advertiser who has bid for that search term. So someone who actually wanted to go to The Age may end up at a rival site, denying The Age potential revenue. The same thing happens with Qantas, which has also been blessed with one of these boxes. Type in 'airfares' and you’ll get plenty of Qantas organic results but also several paid ads from competitors such as Virgin Blue.

Of course, any revenue generated by people clicking on these paid ads goes straight to Google. No surprise this feature created real issues in the US when introduced and many e-retailers including Amazon protested and opted out. Seems it’s just been launched here, so no real reaction yet. Be interesting to see what transpires. Search Engine Room: July 29, 2008


'Pathetic' Yahoo! Fights For Credibility

Jerry Yang ... Under Pressure

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room

ANOTHER day, another negative headline about Yahoo! – the company which once defined Search and the Internet but is now under attack on all sides after rejecting various approaches from Microsoft. The latest broadside comes from billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens who yesterday dumped his Yahoo! stock and told the San Francisco Chronicle that management is “pathetic”. Other investors will get a chance to have their say at the company’s annual meeting this Friday.

The past six months have been a nightmare for Yahoo!, which runs one of Australia’s most popular Internet portals plus a search network struggling to maintain its already anorexic market share. Not much news of out the Aussie bunker recently, but non-stop chatter from the US where there have been a slew of senior staff departures, while its search monetisation deal with Google has gone down like a lead balloon with sections of the search marketing and advertising community.

Meanwhile, the decision by Yahoo! senior management to rebuff the Microsoft takeover bid looks … wrong. MSN was offering US$33 for shares now worth US$22.50 give or take, which goes a long way to explaining investor ire, though key agitator Carl Icahn appears to have been placated for now. Yahoo! also rejected a couple of more complex approaches for its Search business.

Since then, lots of senior executives have left, among them Search honchos Jeff Weiner, Vish Makhanji and Qi Lu. Other departures include Bard Garlinghouse (author of the infamous Peanut Butter manifesto), its best-known blogger, Jeremy Zawodny and Flickr founders Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield.

As for Search, Yahoo! has signed a 10-year agreement with its former arch-enemy to run Google paid ads on its US and Canadian sites. These ads will be mixed in with Yahoo’s own paid advertising. This means Yahoo! Search is no longer competing with Google. The enemies have become partners in a deal that Yahoo! – so desperately craving stock market credibility – claims will generate an extra US$800m in revenue in the first year.

Yahoo! President Sue Decker says Google content will be used to backfill paid search inventory for less popular and lucrative terms.

That may be the case, but there’s little doubt which company benefits most in the long term from the deal. And it doesn’t start with a Y.

Search Engine Room July 30, 2008


Search Marketing Returns Improve Despite Increased Competition

SEARCH marketers are reporting better Return On Investment from their Pay Per Click campaigns despite rising costs, according to a new survey from Marketing Sherpa.

Researchers believe this is due to better marketing and use of analytics – trends that are also contributing to improved ROI for Search Engine Optimisation.

“For years, Sherpa has asked marketers to gauge the ROI of search,” the company said. 

“Recently, there has been an expectation that the needle for PPC would drop because of rising costs. That hasn’t happened so far."



Fairfax Digital Deal For Dynamic Creative

Fairfax Digital Deal For Dynamic Creative

Fairfax Digital has agreed to use the DynamicCreative search marketing software developed by Adelaide company e-Channel across three of its biggest websites -Domain, Drive and MyCareer.

The decision comes after extensive trialling of the product which reduced Fairfax Digital’s cost-per-click ratio by 30 per cent. e-Channel boss Frank Grasso says the days of pure bid management software are over with the increased emphasis on ad relevance over price (to determine positioning) by major search engines.

“Bid management software is quickly becoming old technology,” says Grasso.



Hawking - Chief Scientist At Funnelback

Hawking - Chief Scientist At Funnelback
Dr David Hawking

Australian search pioneer, Dr David Hawking, is now fully committed to his role as Chief Scientist with enterprise search company Funnelback after resigning from CSIRO.

Its the logical culmination of his leadership of a CSIRO project that became so successful Funnelback Pty Ltd was founded in 2005 to commercialise the technology.

Prior to his July 1 career change, Hawking had been juggling his CSIRO and Funnelback roles.

Funnelback search technology is used by the Australian Government, Westpac, the ABC, ASX, CareerOne and ninemsn. Search Engine Room: July 8, 2008


Searching For Answers at Ninemsn

Searching For Answers at Ninemsn
Tony Faure leaves in August

THE boom in search and pay-per-click advertising is playing a role in the implosion at ninemsn, which has lost five senior ninemsn execs, including CEO Tony Faure, over the past three months.

Online display advertising and the ninemsn model is under pressure as ad preferences shift toward niche websites, performance advertising networks, Google and Yahoo! Ninemsn is also losing eyeballs – one report said during April the site had 7.8m unique users, down from 8.2m in March.



War, Famine and Google on the Evening News ... Can It Happen Here?

War, Famine and Google on the Evening News ... Can It Happen Here?

By Martin Kelly

THE United Kingdom search market has been thrown into turmoil by Google’s decision to change its AdWords trademark policy and allow rival companies to bid on each other’s brands – a decision that generated such controversy it was covered on the TV news.

The UK previously had a policy similar to the one that exists in Australia (which there are no current plans to change, according to Google Australia) where major brands can apply for trademark to prevent others from capitalising on their popularity.

Study after study has shown that well-known companies get more traffic from searches on their brand than any other keywords. So the UK change, which is being keenly watched in Australia, has had massive implications.



Microsoft ... Terrible Poker Player

Microsoft ... Terrible Poker Player

In no surprise to anyone, Microsoft has re-opened talks with Yahoo! just a few weeks after refusing to increase its rejected takeover offer for the company. In a piece of classic corporate gobbledegook, it said: "Microsoft is considering and has raised with Yahoo an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo."

This was followed by an even more oblique statement from Yahoo. The company said it will "evaluate each of our alternatives, including any Microsoft proposal, consistent with its fiduciary duties, with a focus on maximizing stockholder value". Yep, that says it all. The best quote came from Kim Caughey, a senior analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group: "Microsoft walking away from Yahoo was a total fake. Microsoft is a terrible poker player if it thought people were going to believe that the deal was dead." Stay tuned for more of nothing. Search Engine Room: May 22, 2008


Are You a Digital Web Developer Who Has Moved Into The SEO Space?

Are You a Digital Web Developer Who Has Moved Into The SEO Space?

Do you have experience with .net applications? Would you like to join one of the largest and most successful online marketing companies around? LaVolta is excited to be working closely with one of the largest and most successful diversified marketing companies in the Asia Pacific region to find them a Senior SEO Specialist. This company has been in operation for over 20 years and has over 400 employees working in a fast-paced dynamic team environment.

They currently manage 65+ websites across a range of industries including Rewards and Loyalty, Travel, Entertainment, Gifts and Direct Sales. Their websites are managed for internal businesses and a number of major Blue Chip clients. This is a newly created role that will work across all website verticals, (Travel, gifts, shopping, entertainment, and loyalty).



Search Market Share Stabilises in Oz

Search Market Share Stabilises in Oz

THE spectacular market share growth of paid search marketing has levelled out, while online display advertising continues to lose ground against other digital alternatives, albeit much more slowly than in the past, according to the latest ad expenditure report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Among the key findings:

  • Display ads fell from a 25.5 per cent share for the three months to March 2007 to 24.6 per cent this year,
  • Classifieds lifted from 27 per cent to 27.7 per cent
  • The Search category rose from 47.4 per cent to 47.7 per cent.

Overall the digital advertising market remained extremely buoyant, growing 30% over the same period last year – up to A$384.5m for the quarter.



Web Analytics Manager - Blue Chip Online Banking Opportunity

Web Analytics Manager - Blue Chip Online Banking Opportunity

Lavolta Consulting has been engaged by one of Australia’s leading banks to identify exceptional candidates in the web analytics space. Our client has significant plans to transform and re-establish their position as leaders in online banking and consider this position as a key role to drive this change.

The successful candidate will lead the discipline across the whole organization, ensuring the business adheres to industry best practices. Working across a number of business units, you will use your detailed knowledge of web trends and analytics to optimize the bank’s online output through identifying online business measurement requirements, defining web metric requirements and overseeing analytic tool deployment to ensure optimal data collection.



Outrider appoints Marcelo Silva as General Manager, Australia

Outrider appoints Marcelo Silva as General Manager, Australia
Marcelo Silva, new GM Australia for Outrider

Australia’s largest search marketing company, Outrider (formerly 24/7 Real Media) has appointed Marcelo Silva as General Manager, Outrider Australia, replacing Robbie Hills, who was recently promoted and is moving to Asia.

Silva joins Outrider in June from PayPal Australia, where he has been Head of Marketing since July 2005. He has also worked for Career One and Yahoo! Australia Search Marketing. Hills is now CEO Group M Search Asia Pacific, and will be based in Singapore. Search Engine Room: May 21, 2008


New name for Travel Search Engine

New name for Travel Search Engine

THE travel search engine formerly known as Bezurk - which News Digital Media recently invested in - has changed its name to It’s also launched a website with improved functionality and search capability. New features include inclusive pricing on airfares and hotels, specific business and first class airline search and a travel research section. CEO Martin Symes said the Bezurk brand had weaknesses. “It was quirky, fun and had a certain irreverence … but it was also hard to remember and spell, particularly if English was not your native language,” he said. “We wanted a new brand and domain name that was easy to recall, type and readily associated with travel.” Symes said will launch localised, multi-lingual country sites over the next few month to ensure greater relevance for Asian travellers. Search Engine Room: May 12, 2008


Excite Corporation Signs Deal With LookSmart

The LookSmart search engine has signed a sales deal with Excite Corporation to sell its pay per click advertising in the Australian market. Excite Corporation runs around 15 small local search engines such as which basically feature paid search results provided by Yahoo! Managing Director Evan Balafas said: “Exite is thrilled with the success of our network’s expansion into the US and UK markets with LookSmart.” Search Engine Room: May 22, 2008


Googles Likes Colour of Aussie Money

Googles Likes Colour of Aussie Money
Schmidt in Sydney

Australia is a Top 10 revenue market for Google and “makes a lot of money for us" company CEO Eric Schmidt told local media during a visit to announce a couple of deals and speak with APAC staff during their annual conference.

“We are making lots of profits in Australia and we're reinvesting those," Mr Schmidt told The Australian. He said Google's international division contributes 51% of revenue. The remainder comes from an increasingly depressed North America. "International is now the majority revenue generator and (that) will continue," he said. "Our international operations are going strong, so we will be able to weather the storm."

Google now has more than 200 employees in Australia and plans further expansion with a new regional HQ scheduled to open next year in Pyrmont, Sydney. "It will have as many good people as we can hire. They will be involved in more partnerships, more revenue, more customer service and more innovation in engineering." Search Engine Room: March 19, 2008 Targets Female Market Targets Female Market, one of the original search engines, has pulled out of general search instead refocussing on the female market, providing answers to America’s housewives about things like recipes, hobbies, kid’s homework, entertainment and health. Founded in 1996 as AskJeeves, has struggled to make headway in the US search market despite good technology and a hefty marketing budget. It had 4.5% of the US search market during January, according to comScore Media Metrix. This meant it was #5 in a US market that is fast consolidating. Pundits reckon that it may soon just be Google and Yahoo! (assuming #3 MSN succeeds with its takeover of Yahoo and the slide of #4 AOL continues). Google has around 60% of the US search market. Here in Australasia, it claims more than 90% market share. Search Engine Room: March 7, 2008


BlueFreeway Loses Money, Fourth Director

BlueFreeway Loses Money, Fourth Director
Another One Bites The Dust

Warwick Smith, former Macquarie banker and politician, has become the fourth director to leave the the board of digital marketing conglomerate BlueFreeway in the past five weeks. The company, which recently sacked its management team, has just reported a $4m loss for the first half “resulting from high corporate costs, significantly lower than forecast corporate sales and reclassification of items previously capitalised on its balance sheet.”

It also raised $3.5m from investors and is looking to slash annual corporate costs from $12m to $4m.  On his departure, Smith declared without trace of irony: “I am confident I am leaving the company in a stable position.” Search Engine Room: March 7, 2008


Digital Dream Teams Not So Sexy After All As Money Talks and Executives Walk

Digital Dream Teams Not So Sexy After All As Money Talks and Executives Walk
Richard Webb - Going, Going Gone..

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room

ALL is not well in the so sexy world of digital marketing where a couple of the bigger companies are learning that it is much easier to spend money than earn it.

The best (or worst) example is BlueFreeway, where the executive body count is beginning to resemble a bad day in Iraq. January saw the departure of three directors including smooth-talking CEO Richard Webb. In August Webb said the company was on track for $8m profit before interest and tax for 2007.

Yet by late January Chairman Greg Daniel had discovered spending blow-outs of a magnitude that required executive departures and immediate cost-cutting… Hmmm, something not quite right here. More will be revealed in today's postponed results.

Meanwhile, another amalgamator, Q Limited, which has also cobbled together a slew of digital outfits including search marketers First Rate and Freestyle Media, is also having problems earning more than it is spending.



Poor Performance Sparks Search Overhaul

Poor Performance Sparks Search Overhaul

By Martin Kelly, Search Engine Room

SENSIS will next week announce a series of initiatives it claims will vastly improve the search performance of its much-maligned White Pages site, which has come under vitriolic attack from frustrated consumers.

Spokeswoman Danielle Horan acknowledged the user issues and said the site will soon be overhauled to ensure improved relevancy to search queries. “The majority of search issues on White Pages are concerned with business search,” Horan says. “We are about to upgrade the site and move it onto a new platform to improve the search results.” Horan said the changes would occur “over the coming months”. 

The search relevancy issue, which has been festering for the past couple of years, was brought to a head by an article earlier this month in the Sydney Morning Herald, sparking a frenzy of feedback on its MashUp Blog. Emotion has been running high with many saying they prefer to use Google over White Pages for business searches despite Sensis having by far the superior corporate database. Following are some comments taken from a single page of the blog:



Paid Clicks Slump But Mystery Why...

Paid Clicks Slump But Mystery Why...

By Martin Kelly, Search Engine Room

SOMETHING of a search sensation in the US this week when a private client report by ComScore suggested that the number of paid clicks on AdWords was flat for January compared with the previous year and actually down on December (which would include Christmas shopping). Google stock got hit by fears that American consumers are cutting their internet spend due to the maybe-it is, maybe-it-isn’t US recession.

However, ComScore later said it believe the number of clicks was flat because Google is actually serving less ads as it increasingly focuses on relevance (although that should lead to a greater click-through rate and more clicks...).

ComScore Senior VP. James Lamberti  said: “I'm not saying that Google isn't experiencing macroeconomic issues, but I just don't think that report reflected that." Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney concurs, speculating that the drop in paid clicks is a combination of Google's attempts to improve the "lead quality for advertisers and the user experience for searches" and "a macroeconomic dampening of commercial queries by searchers." Google has yet to comment.

Search Engine Room:  February 28, 2008


Micosoft-Yahoo: Make Yourself Comfortable, This Could Take A While

Micosoft-Yahoo: Make Yourself Comfortable, This Could Take A While
Jerry Yang, Galvanised...

By Martin Kelly, Search Engine Room

Waiting, waiting, waaaaaaaaiting for something to happen in the Microsoft-Yahoo! brouhaha... You may recall that Microsoft made a $48b offer in early February for Yahoo! which was eventually rejected by the Yahoo! board. Then – nothing. And still nothing.

It seems certain that this takeover attempt, so far a “friendly” one, could drag on for an awfully long time, perhaps all year, not a good thing for either company, particularly Yahoo! despite co-founder Jerry Yang describing it as a “galvanising event”.

And the longer nothing happens, the more distracting it will become, the silence of nothing rising to a crescendo – a corporate version of Chinese water torture: drip, drip, drip, drip.

Meanwhile, Google has stayed quiet after an initial, bitter attack on Microsoft through a blog post by company legal boss David Drummond which characterises Google (and Yahoo!) as champions of “openness and innovation” while depicting Microsoft as a monopolist with dark intentions.



Global Changes, Local Impact: GroupM Flexes Search Muscle

Global Changes, Local Impact:  GroupM Flexes Search Muscle
Susan Zabeti, GroupM Search Australia

Outrider is the new brand for 24/7 Search in Australia following a global shake-up by parent company GroupM – the world’s biggest media buying group – of its search operations. The restructure also includes the creation of paid search brands within existing GroupM companies – Maxus Search, MediaCom Search, Mediaedge:cia Search and Mindshare Search.

Overseeing these new businesses is Susan Zabeti, Director, GroupM Search, Australia. Susan reports to former 24/7 Real Media MD Robbie Hills, who has been promoted to CEO Search, Asia Pacific, GroupM. In addition to his regional role, Robbie will also have responsibility for the day-to-day operations of Outrider in Australia, where the new brand will be phased in over the next few months.

Outrider Australia will handle all aspects of search engine marketing and optimisation. However, the continued development of core search platform Decide DNA, will be done separately, under the 24/7 Real Media brand. Sydney will remain the global HQ for all things Decide DNA and all GroupM companies will utilise its technology.

Search Engine Room: February 28, 2008


Expert Advice on Linking Strategies To Boost Search Engine Rankings

Melbourne SEO Ash Nallawalla from was at Webmasterworld in Las Vegas. Not only did Ash present, he also took notes. Here’s his take on the linking session, which features the thoughts of Greg Hartnett, Rae Hoffman, Roger Montti and Jim Boykin, who kicked off proceedings with a "1000 day linking plan":

  • Day 1: Submit to good directories, such as Best of the Web, Yahoo and industry verticals;
  • Day 2: Submit comments on blogs and write forum posts;
  • Day 3: Buy ads in industry portals;
  • Days 4-20: Write ‘link bait’ articles, give away tools, widgets;
  • Days 21-31: Analyse competitors' backlinks and solicit for your site. Use tools such as Hubfinder by Aaron Wall, or by manually using Yahoo. Check the site's PR, check the Google cache and decide if it is a good link.
  • Days 32-1000: Search for related web pages. Prove you are a human - phone the other site's owner or email with something more than a link request. Why is a link beneficial to them?

And that's only the start. For further words of linking wisdom from the speakers name above, please use the link below:



Coffee With Matt Cutts (and a few hundred other people)

Coffee With Matt Cutts (and a few hundred other people)
Ash Nallawalla with Matt Cutts

By Ash Nallawalla,

At Webmasterworld, there was an early session with Matt Cutts which covered everything from his time at university to his present work as an anti-spam engineering at Google. For those of you who don’t know, Matt is something of a legend and his blog is avidly read by search marketers for clues into Google’s thinking on various ranking practices.

To start the session, Matt told the audience when he was at university (in 1999) in North Carolina, he took a course on search engines and after applying to Google, he asked how much they would pay him. He thought he might not hear from them, but they did, and the rest is history (editor’s note – who cares about the pay, what about those early share options…).

Not surprisingly, paid links was a hot topic. Someone asked what was the borderline? Matt replied if a paid link passes PageRank, it can come under suspicion. If a link manipulates search results, it is suspicious. But aren't AdWords paid links? No - they do not pass PageRank, so they are not.

How about directories that charge for a link? There is a detailed Google Webmaster Central blog post about paid directories. Signs of a directory to avoid - no contact information, private registration, poor data in whois, expired domain redirected to the directory site, uncustomised phpLD script, requires a reciprocal list or takes only paid submissions, no quality links.

Asked about sites sharing the same IP address, such as on a virtual private server (VPS), Mat said that spammers drop an IP address when it has been banned, but the new occupant need not worry. When a whole subnet in a C class is doing strange things, only then do innocent sites have something to worry about.



GOOGLE - SER Special Report

What is Google? Probably the world's most powerful company. Also one of its most secretive and profitable. It's importance is even greater for those of us working in Search Marketing with Google capturing up to 90% local market share in terms of both eyeballs and revenue. Trying to get a fix on the beast is nigh on impossible, however that is what I have tried to do through the following stories, which if nothing less highlight the ambition of a modern phenomenon that makes all its money from the Internet but will not be contained by any industry boundaries. Witness its move into alternative energy production. Huh? Read on to find out more...

  • Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room  


Garage Where It All Started

Garage Where It All Started

Here is the garage where it all started for Google just eight years ago. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin rented it for five months after getting their first round of funding. Google recently bought the Menlo Park, Silicon Valley, property (and the house that goes with it) but has not decided what to do with it. Turn it into a museum, perhaps. Tour buses are already driving by. As for Page and Brin, they have traded up. "We plan to preserve the property as a part of our living legacy," said Google spokesman Jon Murchinson.



PR(A) = (1-d) + d(PR(t1)/C(t1) + ? + PR(tn)/C(tn)) ... GOT IT?

PR(A) = (1-d) + d(PR(t1)/C(t1) + ? + PR(tn)/C(tn)) ... GOT IT?
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin

OK, say it in hushed tones: The Google Algorithm. Say it again: The Google Algorithm. Let it become a mantra: The Google Algorithm. The Google Bloody Algorithm - got it?

Too late, it’s changed … again. I could say that the web world was abuzz with the recent tweak by Google of its infamous algorithm, developed by founders Sergey Brin and Larry page, but that would be telling a lie.

More accurate is that a few thousand search professionals got excited because Google had apparently changed the way PageRank, its core site ranking system, evaluated websites.

This minor online frenzy got me thinking: what a strange business this is due to the dominance of a single company...



The Money-Making Machine

Google is much more than a money-making machine but there can be no disputing its effectiveness when it comes to pulling in profits hand over fist, while staff numbers are also going through the roof.

Just look at the figures. 

  • Google currently clears almost US$11 million every day after costs and allowing for tax.
  • Google has got cash on hand of more than US$13 billion, about the same as last year.
  • Net September quarter income was up 45% over the previous year to US$1.07 billion,
  • Total paid advertising clicks was up by a similar amount.
  • Another 2130 people joined Google in the three months to September 30.
  • The company’s total head count is now 15,916 employees.

That last stat is intriguing because it's damned hard work to get a job at Google.

I know of one Australian guy who had at least eight interviews but didn't get the position because the US-based Google recruiters (ignoring local advice) ultimately judged him on an ancient academic record rather than a very strong recent work history.


Why Links Are Important to PageRank

Why Links Are Important to PageRank

LINKING remains at the very heart of Google ranking success for websites – and probably always will. If in any doubt about this statement, just read the following 'official' explanation of PageRank, the core website evaluation system of a company largely controlled by very serious, very intelligent, very private, very ambitious engineers who refuse to publicly comment on its machinations.

“The heart of our software is PageRank™, a system for ranking web pages developed by our founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University (which)  relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value.

"In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. Google also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important.

“Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search."

Search Engine Room: December 6, 2007



Paid Links Boom Despite Google Ire

The importance of links to Google’s website page ranking system PageRank (see above) has created a booming trade in paid links, with website paying hundreds and even thousands of dollars for ‘ranking juice’.

Google hates this and does everything in its power to punish perpetrators.

Some in the local SEO industry think this is a little pointless, since Google has created the linking monster it is now apparently trying to contain, and people being people will always try to rort the system.

But there’s no question Google will persist in its vigilance - setting the scene for an intriguing nerd v nerd battle royale in which neither side will ultimately emerge victorious.



Google Hits Bottom on Accountability

Google Hits Bottom on Accountability

THE Financial Times reports that Google is bottom of a league table on openness and accountability and needs to sharply improve transparency towards customers and staff.

The ranking is part of the Global Accountability Report 2007 by One World Trust, which examines the accountability standards of 30 companies, intergovernmental organisations and civil society pressure groups.

"We were surprised about Google's result,” said author Robert Lloyd.

Google "is not addressing the privacy and other issues that are concerning many customers," he added.  “They did not co-operate [with the report] and on some policy issues, such as transparency towards customers, they have no publicly available information at all."



'Latest' Google Statistics

HERE are some Google stats.

They were taken today from the ‘company profile’ section of ithe Google website, last updated more than two years ago in mid-2005.

While they provide an interesting historical perspective on Google, it has to be said that out-of-date information is not what you expect from the world’s most important website.

  • “Google is the #1 search engine in the Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K., U.S. (Nielsen//NetRatings 6/05)
  • “Global unique users per month: 380 million (Nielsen/NetRatings 8/05)
  • “112 international domains”

As we know things have changed a lot since then, not least the number of employees.

  • “Google's staff includes some of the most experienced technology and business professionals in Silicon Valley and around the world
  • “Number of employees: 4,183 as of June 30, 2005, many of whom are technical/engineering”

Staff numbers have since increased by 380% to more than 16,000 in just over two years. According to the latest figures, around 23 people join Google every single day. I guess they're all busy doing other stuff.

Search Engine Room: December 7, 2007


Founders Dreams Turns To Smoke

Founders Dreams Turns To Smoke

What do you do after conquering the Internet? Go into the alternative energy business of course.

In a left-field decision, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will be pumping hundreds of millions of Google dollars into a new company called RE<C which aims to produce electricity from alternative sources at a lower cost than coal-fired power stations. 

Page commented: "Our goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal (and) are optimistic this can be done in years, not decades.  If we meet this goal … we expect this would be a good business for us."



Google Paid Search Revenues To Rise

A LEADING Google executive claims “there is still substantial headroom in monetisation” as the company’s paid search technology increasingly delivers more relevant results and increased consumer click-through rates.

Google Director of Advertising Product Management, Nick Fox, also told a media briefing that “the quality of ads is still quite low” with plenty of scope for further relevancy improvements to ads served on its AdWords and AdSense programs.

The high Quality Score campaign has already had a dramatic impact, cutting the number of ads Google is running but strongly bumping revenue per click. 

“We’re showing a very low number of ads relative to what we were historically,” Fox said.



Wireless Network Next On Google Hit List

Wireless Network Next On Google Hit List
Wireless world for CEO Schmidt

Google wants its own wireless network and is prepared to spend billions doing so by participating the US Government’s January auction of wireless spectrum in the 700 megahertz (MHz) band.

A reserve of US$4.6b has been set for the ‘spectrum’, which is coming onto the market as part of the nationally mandated US transition to digital television.

Announcing its intention to bid, Google characterised itself as a consumer champion.

"Consumers deserve more competition and innovation than they have in today's wireless world,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chairman and CEO.

Schmidt sportingly added: “No matter which bidder ultimately prevails, the real winners of this auction are American consumers who likely will see more choices than ever before in how they access the Internet." Search Engine Room: December 6, 2007


Google Embraces Android, Goes Mobile

Google Embraces Android, Goes Mobile

GOOGLE has gone mobile in a very big way as a key member of the Open Handset Alliance, which recently launched Android, described as “the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices”.

Andriod is the centrepiece of a drive by the Open Handset Alliance (other members include T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm and Motorola) to lower the cost of developing and distributing mobile devices and services.

A major goal is to make mobile devices more internet-friendly.

Android is open-source and the Open Handset Alliance has released an early access software development kit to provide developers with the tools necessary to create innovative and compelling applications for the platform.

The first phones based on Android should be available in the second half of 2008. Google boss described Android as “far more ambitious than (the) 'Google Phone' ... our vision is that (this) platform will power thousands of different phone models."

Google is offering of $US10 million in developer design incentives to propel innovation on Android.

Search Engine Room: December 7, 2007


ninemsn - No Space in Digital Future For Search

ninemsn - No Space in Digital Future For Search
ninemsn boss Tony Faure

By Martin Kelly, Search Engine Room

EVER wondered what the people at ninemsn, Australia’s most popular online portal, think of the role Search does and will play in its business?

Didn’t think so, but for the record the answer is – not much.

In a speech on the where the web is heading over the next 10 years, ninemsn boss Tony Faure foresaw an online future dominated by personalisation, video, social networks and mobilisation.

Search was only mentioned in passing twice.



NZ Marketers Defy Global Search Trends

Fresh research reveals that New Zealand’s online advertising industry is marching to a different beat, potentially creating major opportunities for savvy marketers prepared to buck local trends and embrace search engine marketing and optimisation.

A new study from IAB New Zealand and Pricewaterhouse Coopers shows that Kiwi marketers are putting most of their online dollars into classified and display advertising with just 25% being spent on Search.

This defies global trends where search engine marketing heads the online pack. IAB figures show Search leads online advertising spend in Australia (46% share) the United Kingdom (57% share) and the United States (41% share). Why is NZ so different?



Universal Search Changes SEO Forever

Universal Search Changes SEO Forever








Google has started rolling out Universal Search across its Australian and NZ sites, a move that is already having major SEO ramifications. Universal Search means that people who use the main Google search engine will potentially not just get text links but also maps, images, news and video results in response to their query.

This is having a major impact on the natural and paid search results. A classic example is for search term ‘Sydney hotels’ (see above) where the top three natural results are for hotels marked on an adjacent map, which immediately draws the eye away from everything else, including the paid ads.



Offline Drives Online Corporate Search

Offline Drives Online Corporate Search
Get 'em Young - he'll have a laptop soon...

NEW research claims that 67% of search users are influenced to visit corporate sites by offline channels. The survey of more than 2000 Americans by Jupiter Research for iProspect shows that TV advertising and word of mouth are the dominant drivers.

These findings echo the thoughts of many local media industry leaders who say offline channels can have a major impact on online behaviour - witness the Big Brother phenomenon. In this instance, those surveyed were asked which offline channel “prompted you to look for a particular company, product, service or slogan”.

Their options were severely limited: TV ad (37%), word of mouth (36%), Print ad (30%), radio ad (17%), billboard (9%), transport advertising (19%).  About one-third (33%) said none of these influenced their search patterns.



Hot Goanna Sold to TPP Internet

Hot Goanna Sold to TPP Internet
One Hot Goanna - Mark Tull

GOLD Coast Search Marketing company, Hot Goanna, has been sold to TPP Internet, a privately-owned domain registration, web and email hosting business based in Sydney. Hot Goanna was founded in 2005 by Mark Tull and Andrew Coates and now manages more than three million pay-per-click Google ads each week. Tull says the deal was the best way for Hot Goanna to grow with its services now marketed via the TPP customer base and its 1700 affiliates. Tull and Coates will stay with the company. They declined to comments on financial aspects of the deal. Meanwhile, BlueFreeway has bought 27% of Clear Light Digital with the remainder to be acquired over the next five years. BlueFreeway now has stakes in 22 companies.

Search Engine Room: September 26, 2007


Google Case A Tough One For ACCC

Google Case A Tough One For ACCC
Graeme Samuels, ACCC

WHY? That’s the question I ask every time coverage emerges of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ‘misleading and deceptive conduct’ action against Google for allegedly blurring the lines between paid and organic search.

To me the difference between paid and sponsored links is clear, and a vox pop I did in Martin Place, Sydney, earlier this year clearly indicates the public is also aware that there are two distinct ad types on Google.

But the ACCC is pressing ahead and in the Federal Court last week expanded its initial concerns about paid ads across the top of the search results page to include those down the side.

It also clarified that its action will now be against parent company Google Inc, and not Google Australia.

May as well, got nothing to lose – except maybe credibility on a global scale, because it looks like an exceptionally difficult proposition to prove.

The ACCC action also focuses on a 2005 paid search campaign in which Trading Post allegedly used a rival’s business name to deceive people into visiting its site.

It may have more luck there but has taken on an incredibly powerful adversary that will do whatever it takes to win – or at least ensure the matter is stuck in legal limbo for many years to come.

Search Engine Room: October 8, 2007


Top Speakers At Search Engine Room NZ

Top Speakers At Search Engine Room NZ
Aaron Shear

LEADING North American search marketing expert, Aaron Shear, has confirmed as a speaker at Search Engine Room NZ in Auckland on November 13. Aaron is based in San Francisco, where he recently joined Boost Search Marketing after working as the Global Director of SEO with - an eBay Company. He will address the topic - Using Search To Drive Your e-Commerce Strategy.

Aaron is just one of many great speakers driving a dynamic program that highlights innovation through the likes of world-leading NZ search companies such as Eurekster and SLI Systems, while mixing industry issues with search marketing and optimisation techniques. The speaker roster includes some of the most respected names in the Australasian search industry. For preliminary program details please click on the link below.



Lookle, Blackle - Aussie Search Engines Try Something Different

Lookle, Blackle - Aussie Search Engines Try Something Different

THE brands may have a certain familiar ring, and their primary search technology was developed by the industry’s biggest names, but two Aussie search engines have developed strong points of difference that may give them an edge in the increasingly crowded online world.

For it is a new donation system that allows people to nominate a charity that will then receive income generated by their searches.

Lookle, which has been around since 2000 and only searches Australian websites, recently patented technology to facilitate this service. The site is powered by Yahoo! search technology., developed by Heap Media, is powered by Google and markets itself as an energy saving search engine that reduces the amount of electricity required for each search by displaying results in light grey text on a black background. It is current claiming almost 200 million ‘watt hours’ saved.

Search Engine Room: September 2, 2007


LookSmart? Look Elsewhere...

LookSmart? Look Elsewhere...
LookSmart Founder Evan Thornley

The original Aussie search engine, LookSmart will be delisted from the Australian Securities Exchange next month, completing the company's withdrawal from Australia.

Many of the biggest names in the Australian search started their careers at LookSmart, which was once valued at US$7b but is now worth less than US$80m. It will remain listed on the Nasdaq, where it has been publicly traded since 1999.

LookSmart has withdrawn from all markets apart from North America, where it has not turned in a net profit since 2003. Chief Executive and President, David Hills, resigned in early August and has been replaced by Ted West.

Founder Evan Thornley, who started LookSmart with his wife Tracey and made a fortune out of listing it, returned home five years is now a Victorian Labor politician. A Malcolm Turnbull of the Left.

Search Engine Room: September 2, 2007


Search: Big Business and Results

Search: Big Business and Results
Adam Johnson - TVL

YOU hear a lot about how important search is for online businesses these days, but rarely do you get the level of insight provided by a couple of speakers at TRAVELtech recently. Managing Director, who is moving on early next year, told delegates SEM and SEO consumed 80% of the company’s A$2.5m marketing budget during the 06/07 financial year, while  total marketing spend will likely increase to A$3.5m this year.

Meanwhile Yury Shar from, which lifted visitors from 61,000 in January to 450,000 during August, says 34% of this traffic was driven by paid search and 20% by free search. The biggest contributor, however, was affiliate marketing with 38%.

Search Engine Room: September 2, 2007


New 'SEO Friendly' CMS from Amplify

Tom Petryshen, Amplify

THE biggest test of Amplify’s new SEO-friendly Content Management System (CMS) will come over the next few days when it is deployed on one of Australia’s most popular websites, CEO Tom Petryshen said Webjet has already tested the system, which Amplify developed over the past 12 months, on three smaller country sites (UK, NZ, US) and is satisfied with the results.

Petryshen claims “one of the main points of difference for our system is that it was developed by Search Engine Optimisation experts from the ground up. We do not know of any other SEO company in Australia or worldwide that has gone down this route. Most existing CMS have been developed by programmers with no SEO experience and have to be hacked to be search friendly.” Amplify is a Search and Web Development company based in Sydney.

Search Engine Room: September 2, 2007



FIve Easy Steps To Improving Conversions

FIve Easy Steps To Improving Conversions
Rod Jacka, Panalysis

By Rod Jacka

I am sure that you are expecting a few little musings on how to improve conversions; and these will come in a minute, however let's start with a simple hypothesis:

Most websites don't work

There, I said it. A provocative statement, yes, but surely it can't be true.

If we were to assume that this statement is false, then how do we prove it? Some might start by saying something along the lines of "but our site gets lots of visitors".

This may be true, but is this really an indication of success? I am sure that you are in business to make money and not just win a popularity contest.

Others may say but "visitors are viewing lots of content" or "the people that I ask think the site looks good" or "visitors are buying (or contacting us) and some mention that they found us on the web" and other similar statements.

But still there is not enough evidence to prove that your website works.



Legal Limbo Could Last 12 Months Or More

Legal Limbo Could Last 12 Months Or More
Could Be Year Or More...

IT could be more than a year before the sensational legal action brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against Google and Trading Post actually gets tested in court.  The ACCC alleges the companies engaged in "misleading and deceptive conduct" during a Trading Post campaign on Google AdWords.    

While the matter has been listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Court on August 21, this is merely expected to set the terms of engagement - legal experts say the real legal battle will not occur until the second half of next year. Google has promised to "vigorously defend" the ACCC's allegations, which would have global ramifications if proved upheld. The ACCC also claims Google does not provide sufficient differentiation between paid and organic lisitings.



Panama Migration Now, Ad Rankings Soon

YAHOO! Search Marketing (YSM) says the migration of existing clients onto its new Panama ad creation and booking system in Australia and New Zealand will be finished within a couple of weeks. The new system includes a range of features such as geographic targeting. Yet to be incorporated is the ‘Visible Quality Index’ which ranks ads on relevance in addition to the bid amount. YSM declined to say when this feature, which needs decent conversion data to work effectively, will be switched on in the Australasian markets but if history is any guide it should be operating here by October.

Search Engine Room: 31 July, 2007


Vanishing Up Each Other's Google

Vanishing Up Each Other
Alan Kohler

By Alan Kohler, Eureka Report

IF YOU Google the phrase "Alan Kohler", the top link in the main, unpaid search results is one of my articles on Next is Eureka Report. But above that, against a beige background, there are two other links - one is to Eureka Report and the other is a link to Australian Stock Report, one of our competitors.

Australian Stock Report has bought the Google phrase "Alan Kohler". Eureka Report's link only sits above it in the section headed "sponsored links" because we have paid more for it (to Google) in the auction system known as search engine marketing (SEM).

I hasten to add that we are also playing this rather brutal little game: we have bought, among things, the phrases "Rivkin Report" (another newsletter) as well as "Australian Stock Report". Each of those newsletters ensures that its link is at the top of the Google sponsored links by paying the highest price. But Australian Stock Report's search result, for example, is crowded with 10 competitors that have also bought its name.



Alkemi Sells 15% To Future Now Inc.

Alkemi Sells 15% To Future Now Inc.
Brian Eisenberg, Future Now

Search Engine Marketing agency Alkemi International has sold 15% of the company for an undisclosed amount to the New York based corporation Future Now, founded by best-selling authors Jeffrey and Brian Eisenberg.

“Obviously they saw potential in both the Australian market and Alkemi, and this investment is recognition of that,” said Alkemi owner Nathan Stewart.

Future Now developed ‘Persuasion Architecture’ and specialises in customer conversion enhancement.

Stewart says Alkemi has been using Future Now methodologies for the past three years with impressive results and "this investment paves the way for futher regional growth".

Search Engine Room: July 31, 2007


Search Marketing: Do As I Say Not As I Do

Search Marketing: Do As I Say Not As I Do
A real 'Guru'

Opinion By Martin Kelly, Search Engine Room

Listen to the experts at any search conference and they’ll all tell you that one of the basic rules of paid search is to bid on brand names, including your  own. Yet much of the industry does not follow this conventional wisdom. This issue has been bugging me for some time and came to a head today after seeing a story on a (non-search) company called Digital Loop which had just gone to the press with a new product.

But you reckon I could find the company’s website by typing ‘Digital Loop’ into Google? Not a chance – and there wasn’t a paid Google ad to cater for this organic black hole. So I revisited and updated some research I’d done in the past, which was typing in the brand names of many leading search and digital marketing agencies to see if they were bidding on their brand.

The answer is that many are not. The research also revealed less than satisfactory SEO work by a few well-known companies whose own sites are not featuring in brand search results.



Snow Industry Leaves SEM In Cold

Snow Industry Leaves SEM In Cold
Good Luck Finding This Place In NZ

SEARCH marketing appears to have been largely left out in the cold by Australasian snow tourism businesses during a key booking period bolstered by good early season snow falls, especially in Oz.

However this opens up significant, cost-effective opportunities for those that are willing to have a go and look beyond high-demand terms such as ‘snow accommodation’ – 18 ads on Google (three on Yahoo!7).  

Other popular search terms such as the resort names elicits a generally sparse paid search response, with generally two or three ads appearing next to the names of major resorts.  There are even less ads running next to the NZ resorts...

There are even less ads running next to the NZ resorts – generally one or two. In each instance, the service towns are much more popular – Jindabyne (8 ads), Bright (8 ads), Wanaka (6 ads), Queenstown (5 ads).

No doubt this is a reflection supply and demand, but if businesses looked further up the hill, they’d gain great reach at potentially less cost while still maintaining consumer relevance.

Search Engine Room: July 5, 2007


Hot Opportunity! Head of Search - Digital Advertising Agency - Beijing, China

HOT OPPORTUNITY! Do you want to join a leading world renowned agency in China as Head of their Search Marketing business and experience the wonders of living in Beijing!?  Then this is the job for you. It represents a truly unique opportunity to join a fabulous, forward thinking agency as their Head of Search and would suit an experienced senior search exceutive looking to further their career within the Asian market. Intersested? Then click on the link below for further details.



Why Work? That's The Question for Google's Millionaires

Why Work? That
Think I'll Go To The Office Today - NOT!

By Martin Kelly, Search Engine Room

JUST read an interesting story on the Google millionaires in Forbes Asia, the magazine for rich people, forecasting a mass exodus from the company’s California headquarters. The reason is quite simple – money, lots of it.

Forbes estimates there are now more than 700 Googlers worth at least US$5 million. Lots of those would be worth plenty more thanks to a couple of exceedingly generous options schemes that lucky employees can now vest.

The first in 2002, when Google had just 350 staff, granted employees share options at an exercise price of just 30 cents. The following year’s options had a trigger rate of US$4.

Google shares now sell for more than US$500 – do the math. So why work?

Craig Silverstein, Director of Technology and the first hire by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, now holds more than $US100 million in Google stock and admits “economically, you are volunteering to be here”.



Facilitate Digital Lists, Looks Overseas

Facilitate Digital Lists, Looks Overseas
Ian Lowe from Facilitate Digital

Facilitate Digital, which recently listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, is rolling out an overseas expansion plan that targets smaller, sophisticated online advertising markets.

CEO Ian Lowe said international growth is an important part of the future for Facilitate Digital, well-known in media land for its display and search ad serving capabilities but increasingly moving into site and business analytics.

“This is really a key part of our vision,” said Lowe, claiming that the ability to cross-reference data from different ad channels means its services are akin to a “business intelligence machine”.

It’s a vision the stock market is buying. The Facilitate Digital share price has reached highs of 68 cents after the company achieved a back door listing through a ‘merger’ with Purus Energy. Shares were offered at 20 cents.



Ansearch Buys Webfirm, Appoints Ridge

Ansearch Buys Webfirm, Appoints Ridge
Glenn Ridge, back in the day

Ansearch has paid $3.5 million cash plus around $1.5 million in shares for Perth-based web development and search engine optimisation company, Webfirm, from owner Norman Asch, who reportedly bought the business from its founder three years ago for $700,000. Webfirm has 45 employees and was ranked the west’s 12th biggest web developer according to the WA Business News Book of Lists.

Meanwhile, former Sale of The Century host, Glenn Ridge, has been appointed Chairman of Ansearch, a company which he says now has the “sole focus of helping enterprises do more business online whether this is through advertising, site marketing, e-commerce, site optimisation, hosting, maintenance or online strategy”.

Search Engine Room: July 5, 2007


Ciao Baby! Fernandez Joins 24/7 Real Media

Ciao Baby! Fernandez Joins 24/7 Real Media
David Fernandez

David Fernandez has joined 24/7 Real Media as Head of Business Development, a newly-created senior management role.

Fernandez arrives at 24/7 after launching digital research solutions company Ciao in Australia.

Meanwhile, 24/7 MD Robbie Hills said it is ‘business as usual’ after the company’s sale to advertising giant WPP Group for US$649 million.

The deal gives WPP a strong digital marketing technology platform as demand for online advertising soars.

Search Engine Rom: July 5, 2007


Search Engine Room NZ : November 13

The date for Search Engine Room New Zealand has been shifted from mid-July to November 13 due to a crowded winter events calendar. It will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Auckland and should be a great day. Further details will be released shortly.


Found Agency Tumbles in Google Rankings

Found Agency Tumbles in Google Rankings

The Found Agency’s website has tumbled down the Google rankings for key phrases it used to dominate after the search giant apparently invalidated the vast majority of the site’s inbound links.

“The site has taken a big hit, that’s for sure, although we were surprised it lasted so long where it was – it should have happened a long time ago,” said Found co-Founder Zak Asani. 

Why? “Because we had just started our business on a shoestring budget and we pushed the boundaries a little bit on that site with linking” to rank highly in the Australian market for phrases such as Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing.



Growth Only Constant At Hitwise

Growth Only Constant At Hitwise
Hitwise founder Adrian Giles

HITWISE, recently sold for US$240 million, has changed an awful lot since it was founded as a search marketing consultancy by Adrian Giles and Andrew Barlow 10 years ago.

But there has been one constant – growth; Hitwise just keeps getting bigger. It now has 200 staff and is forecasting sales to increase by 40% over the next 12 months, leading to pre-tax profit of US$12-15m.

It has become one of the great success stories of Australia’s Internet industry, ruling its niche in numerous markets, including the UK and USA.

Present management will remain intact and be largely left alone by new owner Experian to run the business, according to co-founder Adrian Giles, who put A$5000 into the company, then known as Sinewave Interactive, back in 1997.

“Our first products were SEO products then in ’98, ’99 we started research and development into Hitwise, which was launched in 2000,” he said.



Yellow Signs ninemsn Distribution Deal

Sensis and ninemsn have joined forces on Local Search. From September, the Sensis database of some 1.8 million businesses – marketed under the Yellow brand – can be searched by users of, ninemsn’s low-profile local search brand.

Yellow’s online business directory has an estimated 98% share of the local business search market, and this initiative will consolidate its position while dramatically improving the database. The ninemsn distribution deal follows the recent alliance between Google Maps Australia and News Digital Media’s

Ninemsn CEO Tony Faure told The Age: “Our strategy is to do things we are really good at and partner in areas where we think someone else probably does a better job than us. We think we can do a better job partnering with Yellow than we could have done on our own.” The two companies will revenue share.

Search Engine Room
May 9, 2007


Evidence That SER07 Actually Happened

Evidence That SER07 Actually Happened

Finally, finally, finally... here are a couple of hot links containing photographic evidence - lots of it – of the great time had by all at Search Engine Room in Sydney a couple of months ago.

Search Engine Room 2007: Day 1 Photographs 
Search Engine Room 2007: Day 2 Photographs

Have a good look through and if you like to buy any of the excellent images, please contact Chris Gleisner via the details provided.


Google - World's Most Powerful Brand

Google - World

WHAT’S in a name? A lot of money, according to the experts. For example, Google has just been named as the world’s most powerful brand with an estimated value of US$66.5 billion – an increase of 77% over last year.

It’s the second-biggest increase of any company in the Millward Brown ‘Brandz’ survey (retailer Marks & Spencer increased 192%) and reflects Google’s global dominance. Apple was another big mover – up 55% to US$24.7 billion.

The brand equity of Yahoo! is estimated at $13.2 billion, a fall of 6%, while Microsoft’s estimated brand value slumped 11% to a mere US$55 billion.

The Top Ten brands are in order: Google, General Electric, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, China Mobile, Marlboro, Wal-Mart, Citi, IBM and Toyota.

Search Engine Room
May 9, 2007


Bid On Brands, Says Travelocity

Bid On Brands, Says Travelocity
Bid On Qantas, Not 'Flights'

MARKETERS using paid search should focus their keyword strategy on product brand names, according to one of the world's biggest online travel retailers. Travelocity research revealed that 96% of its booked trips were the result of branded key word search (eg Qantas flights), while just 4% of bookings were generated through non-branded general search terms such as “Hawaii vacations”.

According to Hotel Marketing, the research also showed that 65% of people only interacted with paid search once, via a single keyword. The company found 27% interacted with paid search multiple times - but just searched repeatedly on the same term. Only 8% searched multiple times with different terms.

Search Engine Room
May 9, 2007


In Case You Hadn't Heard...

  • E-CHANNEL has has received a A$750,000 cash injection from four investors led by Playford Capital to ramp up sales of its Dynamic Creative keyword and bid management software, which took two years to develop. According to the company: "Dynamic Creative enables large, database-rich websites to automate, creating keyword lists and optimising the performance of ad campaigns." 
  • GOOGLE has won a bidding war with Microsoft to buy DoubleClick, a world leader in ad serving and related technology, for US$3.1 billion. The acquisition dramatically expands the Google advertising footprint well beyond Search advertising into mainstream digital media, an ad sector DoubleClick dominates in many of the world's largest markets.  
  • SYDNEY will be among the cities hosting a Google Developer Day, starting at 9am on Thursday, May 31.  Based around the theme "Building Blocks For Better Web Applications", the day will explore "innovative uses of Google developer products to create and enhance appplications". Visit
  • A  TOP marketer has been recruited inhouse to lead Yahoo!Xtra in New Zealand. Kevin Bowler, currently GM Consumer Marketing at Telecom, starts as CEO at Yahoo!Xtra in July. Yahoo!Xtra is a joint venture between Telecom and Yahoo!

Search Engine Room
May 9, 2007


Search Job Market Moves Into Overdrive

Search Job Market Moves Into Overdrive
Not On The Breadline
INTEREST in search optimisation and marketing among major advertising agencies and corporates has exploded, resulting in unprecedented demand for skilled staff, according to a leading recruitment agency. Sally Mills from LaVolta said she has been inundated with staffing requests and has a slew of search jobs on her books. “Over the last three months in particular there’s been a lot more requests for people with a search skill set.”  She said interest has been especially strong among media buying agencies, while inhouse search specialists are increasingly being recruited as part of the marketing team by major companies. LaVolta is currently recruiting for the following jobs:



1.6 Million Reasons To Start A Search Marketing Business In A Lounge Room

1.6 Million Reasons To Start A Search Marketing Business In A Lounge Room
Tim Macdonald and Zac Asani

THREE years ago, Tim Macdonald and Zac Asani started their search marketing business in a Bondi lounge room using second-hand equipment. Yesterday they announced the sale of 51% of The Found Agency to Photon Group for just over A$1.6 million.

Macdonald said it was one of three serious offers the company – which now has 15 staff - had fielded in recent times, hinting at the weight of money chasing online opportunities but "we thought long and hard about it before we came to this decision."



Google Overtakes Sensis As Top Digital Earner With 108% Growth

Google Overtakes Sensis As Top Digital Earner With 108% Growth
Richard Kimber from Google
GOOGLE has become the biggest earner in Australia’s digital marketing industry, increasing its paid search revenue to $206 million during 2006 – an increase of 108% over the previous year.

A special internet edition of BRW Magazine, in which this estimate has been made, also reveals that eight million Australians – or 76% of the online audience - now use Google every month. BRW believes the company has an even larger share of the paid search market at 89%.



Get the Spin on SEO Public Relations

Get the Spin on SEO Public Relations
Lee Odden

There’ll be a special focus on PR and blogging at Search Engine Room this year.  US expert Lee Odden, who owns both an offline PR agency and a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) firm, will be delivering two must-see sessions: ‘SEO and Public Relations’ plus ‘Blog Marketing and Optimisation’.

Lee is one of the world’s leading exponents of SEO PR, while his marketing blog is consistently among the most popular of its type in the US. SEO PR is now an essential skill in a world where irate bloggers can take over search engine rankings on key issues – dominating ‘share of voice’ with researching media and ultimately influencing story content.



Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust, Two NZ Portals Arise, In Business We Trust

Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust, Two NZ Portals Arise, In Business We Trust
AN “amicable divorce” in New Zealand has seen two new digital media and search portals emerging from the ashes of previous market leader, XtraMSN. Most of the hype has surrounded the Yahoo!Xtra partnership, while the launch of MSN NZ on the same day was low-key affair.

No doubt that’s because Xtra initiated the breakup with MSN to take up with Yahoo!, which now has a dedicated NZ platform for the first time. One implication of this new alliance for Australian search marketers is that they can choose whether or not to appear in the New Zealand market.



Briefs: 24/7 Grows But Suffers Shrinkage, Funnelback Gets Flustered

  • 24/7 Real Media boosted its revenues during 2006 by 43% to more than US$200 million. But the US-based company – which owns Australia’s largest Search Engine Marketing business – recorded a loss of US$8.6 million for the year and warned its first quarter results would be slightly less than expected. As a result, its share price has fallen by almost 20% in the past few days. Looking ahead, the company raised its guidance for the full year 2007, anticipating revenue of between US$255 million, around 30% up on last year. March 6, 2007

  • Enterprise search software vendor Funnelback has lodged a provisional patent application for a product called Fluster, which groups search results into themes based on document content “to reveal how the search keywords have been used and in what context”. Fluster’s results are presented beside the standard ranked search results. Fluster was developed by Brett Matson, who said: “Fluster enables users to drill down into more focused queries … this offers users the ability to choose the most effective combination of search and navigation.” March 6, 2007


Search Will Take Over The World (Wide Web)

Search Will Take Over The World (Wide Web)
Great Debate action
Or will it? Sometimes it seems that way but it appears an outrageous concept, or conceit, all the same. One thing is for sure, it will make a great topic for this year’s Great Debate at Search Engine Room, sponsored for the first time by DoubleClick, who are also putting on free drinks for Search Engine Room delegates.

The big news is that teams have just been announced for this epic encounter. Arguing the point will be: Affirmative: Michael Edwards,; Paul Fisher, Total Travel; Mark Armstrong, Google. Negative: Monique Talbot, Tempest Media; Andrew Lockwood, PostClick; Ella Morton, CNET Networks. The Great Debate is always a lot of fun and will be held at 5pm on Tuesday, March 20.


Search Stars As Online Advertising Cracks $1 billion

Search Stars As Online Advertising Cracks $1 billion
Search Takes Off
The Australian digital advertising market cracked the $1 billion sales barrier for the first time during 2006 with Search the star performer, according to the latest Online Advertising Expenditure Report from the Audit Bureau of Verification Services (ABVS).

The report said the Australian online advertising market grew 61.5% in 2006. Search and Directories Advertising was up 81.4% to $399 million, giving it 39.9% market share and online spend leadership. General Advertising grew 56.2% to $303 million, while Classifieds Advertising was up 45.1% to $299 million.



Spending Boom To Fuel Growth But Skills Crisis An Issue

Spending Boom To Fuel Growth But Skills Crisis An Issue
Darryl Nelson

PAID search and online directories spend will quadruple over the next four years to more than A$1.5 billion as new advertisers “flood” the market and incumbents boost their spending.

But Frost & Sullivan analyst Darryl Nelson said skills within SEM agencies are failing to keep pace, threatening the quality of paid search advertising services in a sector where 85% of the money is spent on Google products.

Nelson, who is speaking at Search Engine Room, said paid search revenues “exploded” during 2006 and swept past online directories in terms of revenue market share - 43% (Search Engines) compared with 41% (Directories).



Panama 'Live' At Search Engine Room

Search Engine Room will feature the first live demonstration in Australia of Panama, Yahoo! Search Marketing’s new paid search advertising platform. Panama is being localised for the Australian market and will premiere at a special SER breakfast on Wednesday, March 21.

Head of Marketing Janet Shi said YSM has started briefing its top Australian clients on the new platform with a high level presentation using screen grabs from the US version. “Search Engine Room is the first place we’ll be giving a live demonstration,” Ms Shi said. YSM is hopeful Panama will be available in the Australian market by the middle of this year, pending a successful rollout in Japan.


Read All About It - Google Maps Australia Links With TrueLocal

Read All About It - Google Maps Australia Links With TrueLocal
Nick Leeder

Local search just got turbo-charged with the relaunch of Google Maps Australia – which features not only greater functionality but also business listings from News Digital Media property,

It’s being seen publishing quarters as a legitimate competitor to the Sensis-owned Yellow online business directory, which has an estimated 98% market share.

News Digital Media COO Nick Leeder, who is speaking at Search Engine Room, said the entire business listings database, both paid and unpaid, will be utilized by the Google database. Businesses can also list for free, direct with Google Maps Australia.



New Technologies Change The Measurement Game

New Technologies Change The Measurement Game
Loyalty Best?

Loyalty and willingness to click on advertisements may be better indicators of website success than “truckloads of page views” with the increased deployment by developers of Ajax and RSS. That’s the view of Yahoo!'s chief of insights, Peter Daboll, the former chief executive of comScore Media Metrix.

“These technologies have outgrown the metrics”, Dobell told the Associated Press. “It's really important as an industry to come back down to earth and off this chest-thumping about who's biggest." Dobell’s comments follow the release statistics from his former company, comScore, that MySpace has usurped Yahoo! as the busiest website in the United States by page views.



Briefs - And A Funny Bit

  • Nielsen//NetRatings is searching for a new Australian Managing Director following the defection of Andrew Reid to BlueFreeway. Reid takes up his post as MD of BlueFreeway in March.
  • Incidentally, a search for BlueFreeway on Google reveals the top listing going to blog Brisbane Window with some snide words about the stockmarket play. On this site you’ll also find articles with titles such as “I’m Now Officially a Lesbian”.
  • For evidence Search is booming, look no further than Google’s record fourth quarter result – net income for the three months to December 31 of US$1.03 billion, 40% up on the previous three months. Paid clicks increased 61% year on year.
  • News Digital Media has appointed Gary Cox to the newly-created position of Chief Executive of Cox was previously MD of Lexmark in Australia and also spent 14 years at Microsoft. He reports to Nick Leeder.


Major Google Appointment Rumoured

Major Google Appointment Rumoured
Alan Noble

AUSTRALIA’S search and technology industry is awash with rumours that Google has appointed Alan Noble, a self-described serial entrepreneur with strong Silicon Valley contacts, as its local Chief Technology Officer.

Noble, currently CEO and Chief Technology Officer of local computer networking company NetPriva, has spent most of his working life in northern California, getting a Masters degree in Computing Science from Stanford University after earlier graduating from Adelaide University.

He is well-respected, both in Australia and the US, having founded or run a variety of companies, including NetMind and Foursticks. Google, meanwhile, has around 45 local job vacancies still to fill, many of them in IT.



Andrews To Drive Launch of Dynamic Creative at e-Channel

Andrews To Drive Launch of Dynamic Creative at e-Channel
Glenn Andrews

RESPECTED Adelaide company e-Channel has opened a Sydney office, appointing Glenn Andrews as National Sales Director to drive the global launch of Dynamic Creative, its new SEM product.

e-channel Managing Director Frank Grasso said: “His initial focus will be to expand our operations in Sydney and build a sales force and account management team.”  

Andrews was most recently regional director Australia and New Zealand for DoubleClick. He has also worked at LookSmart and Media Monitors.



New Funding, Tech Platform for Downstream Online

VENTURE capital firm Netus has taken a significant stake in search marketing company Downstream Online, allowing it to boost staffing and bring the Efficient Frontier pay per click bid management platform to Australia.

Efficient Frontier is used by some of the world’s largest search marketers, including Expedia and Amazon. Downstream has exclusive rights for Australia and New Zealand.



Yahoo! Launches New Rankings System in United States

Yahoo! Launches New Rankings System in United States

Yahoo! will launch its new search marketing ranking model in the US next Monday, February 5, when paid ad placement will be determined by “quality” in addition to keyword bid price. To date, search ads on Yahoo! and its partner sites have been ranked solely by price - the bigger the bid, the higher an ad appears within the search results. But now a combination of the bid amount and ad quality will determine placement (similar to the Google system) ensuring greater relevance and potentially better conversion rates.



Party Rave Becomes Reality

Party Rave Becomes Reality
Mark Rimmer
A CONVERSATION at a party just a few months ago has led to the creation and launch of a local business search engine revolving around user reviews – Rave About It. The site, which is at this stage focuses on Sydney but will potentially go national within three months, is a collaboration between founders Tim Griffin and Mark Rimmer.

“We were regular users of reviewing sites in Australia such as Eatability (where users review restaurants and bars) and thought it would be great to have a site where a whole range of services could be reviewed,” Rimmer said. “We’d also seen the growth of similar sites (such as Yelp) in the States.”



No 'Miserable Failure' as Google Defuses Bomb

"I'm not a miserable failure!"

THE so-called ‘Google Bombs’ - nerdish web pranks that led to such infamous search results as the George Bush biography when ‘miserable failure’ was searched for - have been defused. The search giant has changed its algorithms to ensure that Google Bombing is no longer effective.

Google Bombing is a technique in which a website will rank higher if the sites linking to it all use consistent anchor text such as ‘miserable failure’. A post on the ‘Offical Google Webmaster Central Blog’ explained the change:



Aussie Expansion On The Cards as First Rate Sold To Q Limited

Aussie Expansion On The Cards as First Rate Sold To Q Limited
Jon Ostler
THE rapid growth of NZ Search, Performance and Email Marketing company First Rate is set to continue with Australia the major expansion priority following its sale to ASX-listed minnow Q Limited.

First Rate fetched an initial $A2.32 million cash plus incentives up to 2009 in a deal that marks the emergence of Q Limited as the latest mover in the race to acquire digital marketing assets (think BlueFreeway).

It also gives First Rate’s “angel investor” Sparkbox an ideal exit opportunity and provides the company with a powerful Australian network via the Q Limited Board, which counts former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett as a director, and sister companies such as 3 Dimension Interactive.



Hills, Leuchars Promoted at 24/7

Hills, Leuchars Promoted at 24/7
Hills, new 24/7 MD

Robbie Hills has been promoted to Managing Director of 24/7 Real Media in Australia, replacing incumbent Ian Leuchars who is joining the company’s head office in New York as Senior VP in charge of Search across North America.

Hills arrived 24/7 from Sensis just six months ago as Sales and Marketing Director and takes up his new position in March. He will report to Leuchars, who joined the fast-growing company in 2004 as General Manager.

24/7 is Australia’s largest search marketing company, best known for its benchmark DNA campaign management software. It employs almost 500 people around the world, with about 50 staff in Australia. Hills said a major goal will be for 24/7 to further increase Australian market share.



Microsoft Boosts Oz Search, Teams With YSM In India

Microsoft Boosts Oz Search, Teams With YSM In India
India Imminent
Billy Tucker, formerly Director of Strategic Partnerships at ninemsn, has shifted into the newly-created role of Head of Search and Portals in Asia Pacific for Microsoft based in Sydney. One of his first jobs will be to oversee the launch of the Yahoo! Search Marketing (YSM) ad platform onto the Indian version of the Microsoft search engine,, which is expected to happen before the end of March.



SEO Benefits From Blogs

By Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing* 

Is blog optimization part of search marketing? Absolutely! Blogs are web site content management systems with additional functionality such as comments, trackbacks and RSS. Blogs are really no different than web sites.

If you can optimize a document and that document gets indexed, categorized and ranked by a search engine, it’s part of search marketing in my book. As such, marketers should be aware of how these kinds of channels can be used within the overall online marketing mix. Blogs are one of many platforms that benefit from optimization.



Death, Taxes and Search Engines

Death, Taxes and Search Engines
Mr Death and Taxes

MODERN consumer search engine users are giving a fresh slant to a phrase coined by Benjamin Franklin more than 200 years ago.

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes,” Franklin wrote to a friend in 1789. 

The Australian public is clearly fascinated with both subjects, along with illness and tragedy, with dead people dominating the Yahoo!7 hot search lists for 2006.

Steve Irwin, fatally stung by a stingray, was the most popular search of the year. Three other recently deceased men could also be found on the most popular male searches, while a similar pattern emerged with females,and taxes also got a look in.



Ansearch: Rapid Sales Growth

SEARCH and digital display advertising company, Ansearch, dramatically lifted sales during the December quarter to A$1.87 million – a 60% increase over the previous three months. The Melbourne outfit, which owns local search engines and, sells text and display ads across a range of sites in Australia and overseas.

Listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, Ansearch has agreements with both Google and Yahoo! to distribute their ads across its partner network in Australasia. When contacted for comment, CEO Dean Jones was happy to talk up the recent results but would not go into detail about the Ansearch distribution network or business model.



News Goes Local 2.0 -

News Goes Local 2.0 -
Local 2.0 Target

Leader Newspapers, the Victorian community publication arm of News Limited, has started a Melbourne local search site with a Web 2.0 twist - – that squarely targets young people moving from print media.

The site, created by Feedcorp, has been live for a week or so and will officially launch early in the New Year with, ironically, print support.

Feedcorp is also behind the Aussie blog search engine, Co-founder Ben Barren said mixes elements of the booming social search sector with local search.

More... Signs New Partners Signs New Partners has announced it is now providing the online retail function at, a Fairfax Digital site, and, owned by Haymarket Publishing.

Part of eBay, is an online shopping search engine that features user reviews and allows consumers to compare prices at different retailers. currently features more than 500,000 products from around 300 retailers including RM Williams, Dick Smith, Swarovski, Deals Direct, Apple, Dell and Amazon.



Sensis Test Drives Car Search Site

Sensis Test Drives Car Search Site
Buying Cars The Old Way

Sensis has just launched a beta version of a car search site called that allows consumers to compare the models and prices of brand new vehicles.

It will leave used car consumer searches to sister company Trading Post with Sensis Automotive Category Manager Tony Hatton telling The Australian: 

“New and used-car buyers have totally different requirements – 70% of new car buyers start their search online."



Yahoo!7 Boosts Answers But No More Questions for Google

Yahoo!7 Boosts Answers But No More Questions for Google
Brett Poole, Yahoo!7

Australian search engine Yahoo!7 integrated its free ‘Answers’ facility into organic search results late last week, rapidly following the lead of US-based Yahoo!.

The move comes less than two weeks after Google announced it was shutting down Google Answers – a paid service that never found traction with consumers either globally or in Australia – after four years.

Latest figures from Nielsen//NetRatings show that Yahoo!7 Answers ranks third in the ‘Research Tools’ category with 365,000 unique visitors for October, while Google Answers is in 45th place with 45,000 unique visitors.

A key difference is that Yahoo!7 Answers is free and that answers are provided by the ‘community’ rather than paid, screened experts as is the case with Google, which will stop taking new questions in the New Year. 



Louie The Fly Has Nothing On Quotify

Louie The Fly Has Nothing On Quotify
Paul McCarney at SER

TWO of Australia’s most experienced search engine marketing professionals, Paul McCarney and Peter Crowe, have started a new business that connects consumers with trade and professional service providers. launched with a pest control offering and has just rolled out a second vertical covering home and business security.

Chief Executive Officer Peter Crowe, formerly Head of Local Search at Yahoo!, said Quotify has plans to launch up to 40 verticals over the next couple of years.

Revenue is generated through delivering qualified leads to trade and professional service companies.



BlueFreeway Hits Global Highway

BlueFreeway Hits Global Highway

IPO to close oversubscribed, more targets on radar...

BlueFreeway CEO Richard Webb, who has orchestrated the purchase of stakes in 10 Australian digital media outfits, says the company has “another 18 acquisitions in the pipeline – half of them offshore”. Webb told Search Engine Room: “Primarily we are looking at best-of-breed distribution technology whether it’s mobile, email or some future innovation."

He believes there is scope for a “huge technology play” in the digital marketing space and that search will have a “big role” as the company evolves. Meanwhile, Webb said the IPO of BlueFreeway, scheduled to list on the Australian Stock Exchange on December 22, looks like closing at least three times oversubscribed.



Bookings Open For Search Engine Room

Bookings Open For Search Engine Room
Martin Kelly

By Martin Kelly, Director, Search Engine Room

Bookings are now open for the third Search Engine Room conference in Sydney next March 20 & 21. Around 40 senior speakers - essentially the leaders and innovators of Australia's search industry - plus several international experts have already confirmed, while more are on the way. Search Engine Room 2007 will cover issues, innovations, new and evolving business models while focussing on the latest, most effective SEO and SEM techniques. 

Search Engine Rooom 2007 will also have an exhibition featuring Google, Yahoo! Search Marketing,, 24/7 Real Media, Amplify, First Rate, Hitwise, Panalysis, Trellian, Facilitate Digital, while the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau Australia are supporting. A 'Silly Season' rate of $699 applies up to December 22.  Anyone who books now will receive a copy of the marketing book 'Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?' courtesy of Alkemi International. The full program will be revealed early next year.

More on Search Engine Room 2007


Calls To Action, Points of Resolution and Resolving Doors

By Nathan Stewart, Managing Director, Alkemi International

One of the most simple facts about the way the web works that is often overlooked by website owners and managers is that nothing happens on the Internet unless a user ‘clicks’ through your site.

Hyperlinks that persuade action are one of the key elements to building persuasive momentum. Hyperlinks that answer the questions your visitors ask by providing relevant information. Hyperlinks that allow buying to co-exist happily with selling. Hyperlinks that establish and sustain persuasive momentum.

So let me introduce you to the hyperlinking strategy that is the backbone of a persuasive Web site.



MySpace Makes Space For AdSense

MySpace Makes Space For AdSense
Rebekah Horne

MySpace Australia boss Rebekah Horne has confirmed that Google AdSense will start appearing on the uber-popular social networking site in the first quarter of 2007.

It's part of a global deal announced by Google and Fox Interactive Media (FIM), which owns MySpace, in August.

Under the agreement, Google became the exclusive provider of text-based advertising and keyword targeted ads through AdSense program on the FIM network, and also has first right refusal on FIM display advertising sold through third parties.



Parsons Leaves Sensis For ninemsn - Pridmore Lands In Hot Seat

Alex Parsons has resigned his job as Group Manager,, take up the newly-created position of Head of Search at ninemsn. In other developments, Judy Pridmore has replaced Donald McBain as General Manager of at News Digital Media.



Cogentis Sells to BlueFreeway

Cogentis Sells to BlueFreeway
Chris Dimmock Lays It On The Line

Chris Dimmock, owner of search engine optimisation and marketing outfit, Cogentis, has sold 20% of the company to BlueFreeway in return for 70,000 shares.

BlueFreeway is scheduled to list on the Australian Stock Exchange next month and shares in the Initial Public Offering are being marketed for $1.

The company is a stock market play orchestrated by advertising heavy Greg Daniel, former CEO of Clemenger Sydney and The Campaign Palace.



Job Alert! BDM Role at First Rate

  • Leading Internet Marketing Agency
  • Sydney Office (Neutral Bay) 
  • +$150k OTE

First Rate is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing companies (40th Fastest in the 2006 Deloitte Fast 50) and the market leader in search, email and performance marketing. Clients include successful ecommerce entrepreneurs and top corporations. Our Australian client base already includes ING, Sydney BridgeClimb and AppliancesOnline. Other clients include Vodafone, Yellow Pages and Flight Centre.

This is an exciting role and opportunity for a proven achiever to promote online marketing services and products for a leader in internet marketing. This year we opened our Australian office and we are now looking to build on our initial success by adding an experienced Business Development Manager (BDM) or Sales Manager to the Sydney based team.



Eureka! No, It's Eurekster & SLI ... Search Happenings From NZ

Eureka! No, It
Stephen Spencer

By Stephan Spencer

Google's launch of their Custom Search Engine, based on Google Co-Op, may make things a bit more interesting for Eurekster, which carries out its R&D in Christcurch. Or not.

Eurekster is a social search engine that launched their "Swicki" service last year. With a swicki, a blogger / site owner can add to their site a search box along with a "buzz cloud" that shows -- in a "tag cloud" sort of way -- the hot search terms that are relevant to that swicki.

Over 36,000 swickis have been created so far. Eurekster's impressive traffic improvements over 2006 as seen on are a testament to Eurekster's success.



Search And You Will Find - Maybe...

Search And You Will Find - Maybe...
Tuesday Island?

In the good old days – you know, like three years ago – you could get a white label travel site happening supported by a basic Search Engine Marketing campaign and live very nicely off the proceeds. That's the legend.

But now, so the story goes, you’ve got no chance of doing it with new travel sites facing major difficulties in getting the traffic and links they need to scale the organic listings, while high Pay Per Click costs render an SEM campaign uneconomic.

Search engine marketing expert Frank Grasso, boss of E-Channel Online, has set out to test that theory with a new accommodation site he has launched using product from Octopus Travel called TuesdayIsland.



Totally Teetotal on Technology

Totally Teetotal on Technology
Making Do In Myanmar

Can you survive a week without your mobile and Blackberry? Yeoh Siew Hoon goes cold turkey in the golden land of temples - Myanmar. 

I've just been reading a report about what it takes to keep the 21st century business traveller happy.

Apparently, the four top requirements are a direct flight, a flat bed, a Blackberry and being met at the airport - so said 1000 business travellers who were surveyed at the Business Travel Show in London.



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