Top Search Stories – July 2008

Adobe Google unites with Adobe to index Flash files
Earlier this month Google announced its collaboration with Adobe to make Flash files indexable by search engines. Up until now any text appearing in a Flash site could not be read by search engines.

The new development means that Google will be able to index text within Flash files, including that in Flash gadgets, buttons and menus. This latest advance has caused controversy amongst search experts who warn that although Flash sites may be more search friendly as a result of the changes, they can't actually compete with traditional websites as far as SEO is concerned.

As stated on the e-consultancy news blog (04-07-08) Greenlight CEO Warren Cowan says: 'Don't expect Flash sites to start dominating natural search rankings anytime soon. Being able to access content isn't the be all and end all of SEO.' He goes on to say: 'The fear here is that Google's announcement will give the green light to Flash designers, who knowing no better, will now see - and probably advertise - their work as "search engine friendly" when in all likelihood it's anything but.'

Icann ICANN plans Internet domain name expansion

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has recently announced a planned expansion of Internet domain names, following a recommendation made by its stakeholders.

Currently, there are 21 top level domain names in use, including .com, .co.uk and .org. The new proposal means that applicants will be able to apply for a domain name that they believe is suitable to their business and customers. New suffixes could include .nyc, .london and .berlin.
Applicants will have to go through a limited application process before any domain name is granted. It is expected that the final plans will be approved in 2009, with applications being taken in April of that year.

In terms of the consequences of this change, some critics have warned that it may lead to an increase in fraud ,whilst making the net more complicated and expensive for small businesses. As reported in Marketing (01-07-08) Hannah Kimuyu, PPC Director at Greenlight commented: 'From a paid search perspective, the effects could potentially be disastrous as the ruling could lead to an infinite number of domains and if these were handed out to affiliates, the potential to limit competition and hike up costs could be exponential.'

Google Branding through search marketing - new research

New research commissioned by Google shows that search can have a major effect on brand building. The pan-European research project, which looked at both natural and paid search, showed that ranking at the top of natural listings raised a brand's purchase consideration by 4%.

A purchase consideration of 20% could be attained for a brand in the top paid position.
The research showed that search marketing had a positive effect of brand measures including awareness, recall and brand affinity. Google commented that being at the top of both natural and paid listings was the best position to be in as it raised a brand's purchase consideration by 22%.

This research follows the launch of a number of high profile online brand building campaigns. Both Orange and MTV have moved towards encouraging consumers to search for their brands online rather than directing them to their company website.

Yahoo Formal investigation launched into Google / Yahoo tie up
A formal investigation has been launched into competition concerns over the Google / Yahoo search deal, which was finalised in June this year. The US department of justice is looking into whether this tie up is likely to cause a monopoly of the search arena by the two leading search engines.

As part of the deal, Google advertisements will appear alongside Yahoo searches in North America. Although the deal only affects the US, any plans to extend the deal overseas will be closely watched.

The tie up has caused much controversy amongst advertisers both in the US and Europe. Greenlight CEO Warren Cowan was quoted in the New York Times on June 13th as saying: 'It goes in the opposite direction of what marketers want. It means more consolidation with one large partner. If a marketer wants to diversify their risk and spread their risk across multiple channels, that will be harder to do.'

Ipa Consumers and marketers turn to online to combat credit crunch

According to recent data from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) buying goods online has become the third most popular online activity in the UK, after seeking information and communicating with people.

In addition to this, it is no longer just books, music, clothes and tickets that are being bought via this medium, but grocery shopping is also on the up. It has been reported that 44% of Internet users have shopped online, with nearly one out of every two Londoners saying they had shopped that way.

This rise in online spending is mirrored by a reported increase in global Internet ad spend. A revised forecast by media agency Zenith Optimedia suggests growth in Internet ad spend as marketers try to invest more wisely due to the current economic climate. The Internet is an attractive medium as it is less expensive than most other methods as well as being more trackable.

Zenith predicts that online ad spend will account for more than 10% of all advertising in 2008, rising to 13.6% by 2010.

Microsoft Microsoft serious about challenging Google
Following on from a story in our June issue on the potential take-over of Yahoo's search business by Microsoft, the story has taken yet another unexpected turn.

Despite talks going cold, Microsoft has now stated that it would be happy to re-open talks with Yahoo, as long as Yahoo's board members are ousted and replaced by a new board. This decision supports the efforts of Yahoo stakeholder Carl Icahn who has been trying to unseat the search engine's chief executive Jerry Yang.

Microsoft's attempts at rivalling Google are further highlighted by the software giant's recent acquisition of search company Powerset. This new company is planning to develop an innovative technology called 'natural language' to search the Web. This technology aims to 'understand' a consumer's query and web content instead of using keywords to get to the relevant site. It has been reported that the acquisition of Powerset cost in the region of $100m.

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