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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Email Marketing Remains Reliable

hree misconceptions refuted

Keeping up with the latest marketing techniques is a good thing; new stuff can be very useful. At the same time, the process of keeping up can act to prevent a person from ever getting ahead, and an expert recently spoke up to say that email marketing remains effective.

Gail Goodman named three misconceptions about email marketing, with the first being that the inbox is irrelevant. She wrote, "It's true that consumers are getting more e-mail now than ever before. That's exactly why permission-based e-mail marketing is so valuable in reaching customers overwhelmed by inbox overload. . . . [W]hen someone signs up for your mailing list, they're giving you a vote of confidence that your e-mail content is valuable to them."

The second misconception relates to Facebook, Twitter, and all that: "social media has replaced email marketing." Goodman posits that email is a better way of reaching potential customers on a one-on-way basis than, say, a passing tweet that 300 other people may or may not view.

Finally, if you're concerned that young people don't use email anymore, you might simply be wrong, according to Goodman. Many young people use their email accounts to keep track of important, more formal, stuff, including work- and school-related communication.

Unless you've got some serious data to support a switch, then, try not to completely abandon reliable marketing methods for flavor-of-the-moment approaches. More

Microsoft and Yahoo Finally Announce Deal

Well, they've finally gone and done it. Microsoft and Yahoo have partnered to "change the search landscape." The two companies today announced a long-awaited deal, in which Microsoft will power Yahoo search while Yahoo will become the exclusive search advertising provider for Microsoft's search engine, Bing.

You know this history by now. Here's what the companies have to say:

Carol Bartz "This agreement comes with boatloads of value for Yahoo!, our users, and the industry, and I believe it establishes the foundation for a new era of Internet innovation and development," said Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz. "Users will continue to experience search as a vital part of their Yahoo! experiences and will enjoy increased innovation thanks to the scale and resources this deal provides. Advertisers will also benefit from scale and enjoy greater ease of use and efficiencies working with a single platform and sales team for premium advertisers. Finally, this deal will help us increase our investments in priority areas in winning audience properties, display advertising capabilities and mobile experiences."

Steve BallmerMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, "Through this agreement with Yahoo!, we will create more innovation in search, better value for advertisers and real consumer choice in a market currently dominated by a single company," said Ballmer. "Success in search requires both innovation and scale. With our new Bing search platform, we’ve created breakthrough innovation and features. This agreement with Yahoo! will provide the scale we need to deliver even more rapid advances in relevancy and usefulness. Microsoft and Yahoo! know there’s so much more that search could be. This agreement gives us the scale and resources to create the future of search."

Key Terms as highlighted in the announcement:

- The term of the agreement is 10 years;

- Microsoft will acquire an exclusive 10 year license to Yahoo!’s core search technologies, and Microsoft will have the ability to integrate Yahoo! search technologies into its existing Web search platforms;

- Microsoft’s Bing will be the exclusive algorithmic search and paid search platform for Yahoo! sites. Yahoo! will continue to use its technology and data in other areas of its business such as enhancing display advertising technology;

- Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers. Self-serve advertising for both companies will be fulfilled by Microsoft’s AdCenter platform, and prices for all search ads will continue to be set by AdCenter’s automated auction process;

- Each company will maintain its own separate display advertising business and sales force;

- Yahoo! will innovate and “own” the user experience on Yahoo! properties, including the user experience for search, even though it will be powered by Microsoft technology;

- Microsoft will compensate Yahoo! through a revenue sharing agreement on traffic generated on Yahoo!’s network of both owned and operated (O&O) and affiliate sites;

- Microsoft will pay traffic acquisition costs (TAC) to Yahoo! at an initial rate of 88 percent of search revenue generated on Yahoo!’s O&O sites during the first five years of the agreement; and

- Yahoo! will continue to syndicate its existing search affiliate partnerships.

- Microsoft will guarantee Yahoo!’s O&O revenue per search (RPS) in each country for the first 18 months following initial implementation in that country;

- At full implementation (expected to occur within 24 months following regulatory approval), Yahoo! estimates, based on current levels of revenue and current operating expenses, that this agreement will provide a benefit to annual GAAP operating income of approximately $500 million and capital expenditure savings of approximately $200 million. Yahoo! also estimates that this agreement will provide a benefit to annual operating cash flow of approximately $275 million; and

- The agreement protects consumer privacy by limiting the data shared between the companies to the minimum necessary to operate and improve the combined search platform, and restricts the use of search data shared between the companies. The agreement maintains the industry-leading privacy practices that each company follows today.More..

Will Twitter Search Be the Next Wikipedia Search?

After checking out Bing's explanation of how it handles reference searches, it got me thinking how big of a role Wikipedia plays in search. Wikipedia entries are often among the top results in Google, and clearly they are a big part of Bing's strategy as well.

By this time next year, these are the only two search engines we're going to be talking about as far as who has how much market share. Yahoo of course will be using Bing to deliver its results, so essentially the big 3 will become the big 2.

If Twitter plays a significant role in the search market, than Wikipedia sure does as well, because it gets a lot more unique visitors than Twitter. In fact, at this point it gets more than Bing too, although that looks to be on pace to change pretty soon.

Twitter results are useful (can be at least) for timely information. Wikipedia results are useful for reference information. These are two very different niches, yet both important ones. I think it's fair to assume that Google drives a great many of those unique visitors to Wikipedia, and Bing will drive an increasingly large amount too. The question is how many people just go to Wikipedia and search?

Right now, we're assuming that people are and will just go to Twitter to search when they want to see what people are saying "right now" about something. That's why Twitter's homepage redesign is significant. Google and Bing don't have real real-time search offerings in place...yet.

Twitter Search is significant to the industry right now, but that significance could dwindle once Google and Microsoft start incorporating true real-time search into their own results. We don't know exactly how either search engine will handle this, but I think it's safe to assume that it's coming sooner or later. I tend to believe real-time results will eventually make their way into Google's Universal results for example.

Once that happens, Twitter Search may not be as important as it appears to be now. I liken it to the importance of Wikipedia search. You can search Wikipedia when you want, and it is helpful. Users will still be able to do the same with Twitter, but chances are, most will search Google or Bing in the future and get their Twitter results from there (based on relevancy), much like they get their Wikipedia results now.

What do you think?

Note: When I say that Twitter Search's significance could dwindle in the future, I mean with regards to how people search in general. I do think that Twitter Search will continue to be incredibly significant to Twitter itself, and that the new homepage redesign will highlight it and show the public some usefulness that they may not have seen before. More...

Senators Push For Ban On Texting While Driving

A group of Democratic senators are co-sponsoring legislation that would ban texting while driving nationwide.

The four senators co-sponsoring the legislation - Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.). The legislation would force states to ban texting while driving or risk losing all federal highway funds. The legislation is set to be announced at a press conference today.
Charles Schumer
Charles Schumer
New York Senator

Fourteen states currently have bans in place that ban texting while driving, while five states and the District of Columbia, ban all drivers from talking on a handheld cell phone while driving.

Earlier this week, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute released a study that found truck drivers who text while driving are 23 more times likely to be in a traffic accident. The study found talking on a cell phone increased the risk of an accident for drivers of cars, light trucks and heavy trucks, but was most risky for tuck drivers who used texting.

Schumer is also pushing for legislation that would ban bus drivers and train conductors from texting while on the job.

"Texting while conducting a train or driving a bus is not only irresponsible, it's extremely dangerous," Schumer said.

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