Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

New URL Lengthening Service: Binged.It

January 15, 2010

Microsoft is trying to psyche out the shortened url market by launching its innovative new “longer url” url lengthening service for its relaunched search engine Bing called Binged.it.

Binged.It

Binged.It

Typing Binged.it into a browser however takes visitors to Bit.ly – one of the top url shorteners on the web.

With Google having recently launched its own url shortener, it was inevitable Microsoft would launch its own shortener.

Its also natural a url shortener market leader like Bit.ly would be driven into the arms of its new enemy’s (Google) enemy – Microsoft.

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The Attention Wars

October 27, 2009

Now playing on a screen near you – The Attention Wars.

Some time ago I wrote a piece characterizing Microsoft’s offer to buy Yahoo as their attempt at reinforcing and fortifying the habits of computer users to remain on Microsoft owned property.

Not because Microsoft needed Yahoo for additional desktop market share but because Microsoft needed Yahoo’s search audience share and still does.

Why?

Microsoft doesn’t want to lose any more attention, audience or keystrokes to their now main strategic rival and desktop franchise threat – Google.

I also thought Microsoft’s offer was dubious at best – offering just enough money to get everybody’s attention including half Yahoo’s board of directors – but not enough in the end to cause Co-Founder Yang to surrender his baby.

The whole act was really a masterstroke on Microsoft’s behalf.

Because as we all now know, Yang was excommunicated for not agreeing to sell while Microsoft also got to add the latest chapter to their Embrace, Extend and Extinguish playbook.

I digress…

Anyway – as the web has matured every large internet property has become visitor retention focused – ie., motivated to retain what audience and attention they have.

Hence, the recent introductions of new web homepages for each of the three largest internet audience properties – Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

In case you hadn’t noticed, each property has recently introduced a more sticky homepage.

Google has introduced their “fading” home page.

Google Attention

Google Attention

No links are shown on the page until a user mouses over the links.

The Google home page links “fade in” only after a cursor moves onto the page.

This may not seem like much of a change, but over the course of a day and with it 100s of millions of users – the amount of additional time spent collectively by visitors on the Google home page will  increase.

Bing’s Home Page Picture

Bing Attention

Bing Attention

Even before Bing became Bing, Microsoft had added an eye catching image to their homepage with several pop up boxes throughout the image to capture and retain searchers attention.

I am not sure what direct branding effect this will have on the Bing brand, but it will definitely increase awareness and recall for each of the images featured on their home page.

Yahoo My Favorites

Yahoo Attention

Yahoo Attention

Yahoo moved “My Favorites” to their home page’s left rail in the hopes of both  increasing their users attention and keystrokes.

I suspect Yahoo’s efforts will achieve both.

Expect to see every media company with a screen presence whether on the world wide web, television or mobile phone going to ever greater lengths to try and capture the growing more elusive with each passing day audience’s attention.

Microsoft Consolidates Search Market With Yahoo Deal

July 30, 2009

As most everyone in the search industry already knows, yesterday Microsoft and Yahoo reached a long anticipated and rumored search pact.

Microsoft Yahoo Search Deal

Microsoft Yahoo Search Deal

Because of the capital costs of maintaining a competitive global search engine, search engine market consolidation was inevitable.

I have commented about the Microsoft Yahoo search opera on several search industry blogs and wrote a blog post back in February 2008 about the real reason Microsoft needed to do a search deal with Yahoo : Microhoo vs. Google: The Battle for Audience and Keystrokes.

Media Person of the Year: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

June 24, 2009

The Cannes Lions 2009 56th International Advertising Festival has named Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer its Media Person of the Year.

Steve Ballmer Media Person of the Year

Steve Ballmer Media Person of the Year

The following are some gems  from Ballmer’s acceptance speech via the Guardian.Co.Uk

All content consumed will be digital, we can [only] debate if that may be in one, two, five or 10 years.

There won’t be [only traditional]newspapers, magazines and TV programs.

There won’t be [only] personal, social communications offline and separate.

In 10 years it will all be online.

Static content won’t cut it in the future.

Some say that the ad-funded model has not led to profitability. Google’s search site makes money but past Google is there a publisher with an ad-funded or fee-based model that has made lots of money? No.

And finally a definitive response from Steve Ballmer regarding Microsoft’s interest in buying Yahoo:

We have no interest in acquiring Yahoo. What we have said is that we will continue to remain open to a partnership with Yahoo.

Oops, Bing: Just One Thing

June 5, 2009

As we all know by now, Microsoft has launched its highly hyped new search engine called Bing.

Instead of gushing about Bing the product’s attributes or shortcomings, I instead will concentrate on its one glaring strategic flaw – market positioning.

According to Search Engine Land, in developing its marketing and advertising campaign to position Bing as a “decision engine” among other things, Microsoft relied on its own limited perception of what searchers wanted from a search engine ie., Microsoft’s own limited internal search data.

Having a myopic self view of a market may work in segments where your products enjoy an effective monopoly like say desktop software.

However, extrapolating a markets wants and needs from a subset of the search audience can ultimately only produce an incremental increase in search market share at best.

Experienced search marketers understand the differences between the Google, Yahoo, Bing (Live) and even AOL search audiences.

Apparently the same can’t be said for the search technology team at Microsoft, I guess that’s why they work at Microsoft.

Microsoft+Yahoo+Twitter = Microhooter! to the Rescue?

March 4, 2009

While thinking about commenting on another blog regarding all the blather about how this company or that company will kill Google and its lead in the search space, I believe I stumbled upon the perfect Google killer: Microhooter!

Combined or by reputation alone couldn’t Microsoft’s desktop monopoly, Yahoo’s display ad business and Twitter’s mass texting be enough to derail Google’s money making search engine?

Maybe in theory but not in practice.

No, not even Microhooter! will save the day.

The search audience is an army of one – one billion people online that is – an army which will continue to march where it can find and get the answers it needs when and where they are needed.

With or without a Microhooter, for the time being and for the foreseeable future that place will remain Google.

You can go back to work now.

Interview with Dr. Qi Lu; President, Microsoft Online Services Group

December 11, 2008

Microsoft’s PressPass recently interviewed Dr. Qi Lu, the new President of Microsoft’s Online Service Group about his plans for taking Microsoft’s search products to the next level.

Microsoft Dr. Qi Lu

Microsoft Dr. Qi Lu

Source – Microsoft PressPass

Prior to joining Microsoft, Dr. Lu was executive vice president of Engineering for the Search and Advertising Technology Group at Yahoo. Prior to his 10 years at Yahoo, Lu was a Research Staff Member at IBM’s Almaden Research Center. He also has worked at Carnegie Mellon University as a Research Associate and at Fudan University in China as a faculty member. Lu holds 20 U.S. patents, and received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in computer science from Fudan University in Shanghai, and his Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Excerpts from Microsoft’s PressPass interview with Dr. Lu:

PressPass: Where do you see the opportunities for Microsoft in the search and online space?

Lu: First, I think there is a genuine opportunity to take our search products to the next level. I see that Microsoft’s search product quality is improving at a very, very fast rate, that there are great foundations there. And with the technology base, the talent base, the computing infrastructures, I’m confident that we will be in a position to produce a differentiated and compelling search experience.

The second opportunity is to continue building a very powerful advertising platform. Microsoft has made a series of strategic acquisitions, and also built a bunch of internal technologies and products. The key is to put all those assets together to build powerful, highly scalable advertising platforms. The advertising we see today will be very different in the future because of new platforms for it. Ads will be truly relevant and useful, and the experience will be compelling.

PressPass: Whenever anyone talks about competition in search, the target always is Google. Are they catchable?

Lu: Well, we’re here to win, and my view on this is that to win in the search space, fundamentally you build on the strengths of your product. And we know what it takes to build a compelling user experience and winning product, which is to have a powerful infrastructure, great talent and put great processes in place so that we can out-develop, out-market, out-innovate our competitors.

But make no mistake; I think Google is a very, very powerful company. They are definitely ahead in the search space. There are a lot of challenges ahead. We’ve got our work cut out for us.

It will be interesting to see in which direction Microsoft heads with ex-Yahoo Dr. Lu at the Microsoft search helm.

Will Microsoft resume talks to acquire Yahoo’s search business?

Will Microsoft continue developing their own search product?

Or – will Microsoft now attempt to accomplish both (buy Yahoo’s search business and migrate Yahoo search advertisers to adCenter while attempting to improve Microsoft’s search and advertising products) in their quest to catch Google?

and Microsoft Wanted To Buy Yahoo’s Search Business…

November 13, 2008

I have recently had some issues with a client’s account in Microsoft’s adCenter.

When Microsoft first launched adCenter – their search advertising system, I signed up and called in for some reason and realized at the time “customer support” was being handled by a call center.

During my call, I asked the CSR if they were an employee of Microsoft and she replied she wasn’t.

I thought maybe they had outsourced customer support initially because they were just launching their service.

I hadn’t called them since.

Yesterday I called in to investigate why my client’s ads were not being displayed under search queries for their brand name.

After a series of questions about the account from the adCenter customer support representative, I told her all I did was load two new text ads – over a week ago.

The entire account hasn’t generated any impressions let alone clicks since.

I then heard some additional voices on my call at which point I asked “is this call being monitored?”

She said “all calls may be monitored.”

I then asked are you in a call center offsite? Yes.

Are you a Microsoft employee? No.

If you have some free time on your hands, call adCenter’s customer support telephone number to discuss the nuances of pay per click advertising with “Microsoft’s” “customer support” staff.

You might be glad Microsoft hasn’t bought Yahoo’s search marketing business.

Microsoft adCenter Customer Support Telephone Number

Microsoft adCenter Customer Support Telephone Number

2008 Holiday Retail Search Traffic Forecast

November 7, 2008

Microsoft’s adCenter blog has posted their 2008 Holiday Advertising Guide for search advertisers.

Some of the guide’s highlights:

“Online retail shopping increases in November by more than 100 percent.1 Adding promotions like free shipping make an enormous difference—57 percent of consumers stated that free shipping is a reason for them to shop online.2 For search and display advertising, online buying will peak on Black Friday, November 28, followed by Cyber Monday, December 1.”

1. Hitwise Market Share in all Categories, 2008.
2. iCongo/Harris Interactive, April 22, 2008.

Based on the percentage of consumer interest and barring any data suggesting otherwise, shipping costs appear to have become the largest remaining barrier to consumers shopping and buying online.

Can elimination of shipping costs insure and increase internet retailers sales prospects this 2008 holiday season?

As the largest online retailer, Amazon.com demonstrated their understanding of the power of free shipping by offering it during the 2007 holiday season.

Amazon is again offering free shipping this holiday shopping season with some conditions through their Amazon Prime Member program.

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime

In this current economic climate, aren’t internet retailers who don’t follow Amazon’s lead by offering some type of free shipping risking transaction losses to internet retailers – like Amazon – who do?

According to Microsoft’s Holiday Advertising Guide and their traffic data from 2007, Internet retailers can expect four peak search traffic periods during this holiday season:

1. Black Friday

2. Cyber Monday

3. Holiday Crunch

4. Post Holiday

Holiday Search Traffic

Holiday Search Traffic

Important search traffic dates for internet retailers this year will be:

1. Black Friday: November 28, 2008

2. Cyber Monday: December 1, 2008

3. Holiday Crunch: Occurs between December 4, 2008 and December 18, 2008

4. Post Holiday: Begins on December 26, 2008

Internet retailers who advertise free shipping this holiday season can forecast a larger percentage of transactions generated via search from within their market than internet retailers who don’t.

Yahoo Workforce and Market De-Cap-itation

October 21, 2008

I have always found Yahoo related market news ironic when its front and center on the Yahoo Finance site – particularly when the news isn’t so good.

Yahoo Finance

Yahoo Finance

Like today’s news of Yahoo’s plans to fire 1,500 employees or 10% of their workforce just eight short months after receiving and then rejecting a $47.5 Billion dollar purchase offer from Microsoft.

At the close of business today, Yahoo’s stock market capitalization was $16.73 Billion – approximately one third Microsoft’s $47.5 Billion offer.

Yahoo Market Cap

Yahoo Market Cap

In either case, whether you were an employee who was fired – or you still own Yahoo stock – ouch!