January 2007 Quick Links

By Eric Goldman

* Marketers (including Microsoft) are paying authors to write Wikipedia entries. Surprised?!

* Also on the topic of Wikipedia and marketers, Wikipedia has tagged all of their pages NOFOLLOW so that there’s no way a marketer or website can get PageRank credit from inserting a link in Wikipedia. A reporter emailed me to ask “Do you think this move staves off the potential demise you have predicted?” My response: “No. This was actually raised in the comments to my initial post on the topic in Dec. 2005. Two points: (1) People who recycle Wikipedia content on their own site (such as Answers.com) may not use the nofollow attribute, so there still may be a PageRank payoff by inserting links on Wikipedia pages. (2) More importantly, marketers may want Wikipedia traffic directly (rather than the indirect boost in search engines). Wikipedia is already highly placed in the search engines, so it is a big traffic source in its own right.”

* Speaking of my prediction of Wikipedia’s future, NPR picked up on it.

* Now that MyBlogLog is owned by Yahoo and thus increasing its traffic, Greg Linden reports that it’s getting spammed.

* I previously reported that ICANN was thinking about retiring some TLDs. The first casualty? .um (for US Minor Outlying Islands, such as the Midway and Johnston Atolls), which got chucked because the registry operator didn’t want to continue operating it and there were no registrations in the TLD.

* “The Search Tax: Are Search Engines Leeches?” This article discusses the role of search engines as intermediaries between consumers and marketers, able to charge marketers for access to consumers (hence, the “tax” reference). The article also discusses the value of buying trademarked keywords:

What’s difficult for marketers to swallow, however, is the clear evidence the search engines (and affiliate marketers with good organic rank on brand terms) have the power to insert themselves between the consumer and the brand, even when consumers clearly have an interest in the brand (as indicated by their search query containing the brand or trademark).

Marketers’ temptation may be to refuse to pay for brand keywords, sticking instead to the generic keywords that are also clearly aimed at any given target audience. In every case we’ve tested (and I have tested many and will likely test many more), that would be a mistake, even when the marketer has high organic rank on his brand. The results of every test we’ve executed indicate the incremental gain received when paying for traffic on a brand term has a very high net ROI (define) because: [1] Significant additional screen real estate on the SERP is gained. [2] The total control over title and description allows for greater offer control. [3] Top positions on one’s brand usually aren’t very expensive due to the engines’ relevance algorithms. [4] The ability to control and tune the landing page results in a conversion rate percentage in many cases is higher for the combined pages than for one alone.

* We might consider the contrast between the prior post and this one: “Should Google Pay Off Brand Owners With Cut Of Keyword Sales?

* Brand advertisers resist using Google because Google doesn’t allow third party ad serving technology. But compare a BusinessWeek article reporting that big brands are buying up CPC inventory and pricing out small- and medium-sized advertisers.

* Google revised its algorithm to eliminate most of the famous Googlebombs (like “miserable failure“). Danny’s recap. Google hasn’t specified details, but I’m assuming that Google has somehow reduced the weight given to anchor text.

* A search engine marketer predicts the death of SEO with the emergence of personalized search. I agree! (HT: Greg Linden).

* eBay is blocking the auction of virtual assets due to the “legal complexities” of such sales. Because of its differentiated EULA, Second Life virtual assets can still be auctioned. The News.com article suggests that these transactions will move from eBay to other trading fora. Even so, this might inhibit the liquidity of these secondary market transactions, which could reduce the return of virtual asset speculators.

* According to Jakob Nielsen, about 1/2 of online giftcard recipients either junked their email notification or didn’t trust it (i.e., thought it was phishing).

* HER, Inc. v. Re/Max First Choice, LLC, 2007 WL 43747 (SD Ohio Jan. 5, 2007). Competitor 1 registers domain names containing Competitor 2′s trademarks, Competitor 2′s principals’ names and the principals’ home address and phone number. The domains roll over to Competitor 1′s website. Competitor 1 then sends a couple of gripe spam to Competitor 2′s employees from some of the registered domain names bashing Competitor 2′s business practices. The court isn’t sympathetic, granting a PI based on ACPA and trademark infringement. While this type of competitor-bashing isn’t permissible (and, frankly, registering domain names with the target people’s home address and phone number is bizarre), Competitor 1 should have been able to find ways to deliver the same content without running afoul of the law.

* Google has lost an appeal at the OHIM in Europe over the rights to use the trademark “Gmail” for its email services.

* Does a “lactivist’s” t-shirt saying “the other white milk” infringe the Pork Board’s trademark in “the other white meat”? No, and what a dumb question!

* The RipOffReport.com has appeared on this blog several times (see here and here, among others). The Phoenix New Times (the local Phoenix alternative weekly) runs a lengthy and interesting story about the Ripoff Report and its principal, Ed Magedson. Worth reading.