Top search stories – March 2008

By Greenlight | 01 Apr 2008

Google launches free ad management service

Google has recently launched a free ad-serving service called Ad Manager. The new service works by serving ads on unsold spots on publishers web sites, with Google earning commission from the revenue. As well as facilitating the placement of ads on web sites, Ad Manager aims to provide reports on how successful ads are in reaching consumers.

The new technology will be available to publishers for free so that more publishers will use the technology, thus increasing Google's revenue. Ad Manager allows publishers to sell their own advertising. They can opt in to Google's AdSense to fill any slots that remain unsold. The news of the new service follows Google's acquisition of DoubleClick, which was approved earlier this month (see below).

Popularity of travel websites soars
According to a recent report by internet measurement firm ComScore, travel and career websites achieved the greatest increase in visitor numbers in January 2008. Within this sector, car rental websites experienced the biggest jump, with an increase of 80% since December 2007. Visits to hotel and resort sites went up by 54%, whilst those for airlines rose by 46%.

A further report by Denmark's Centre for Regional Tourism and Research showed that European online travel sales are on the up, increasing by 24% in 2007. This accounts for an overall market share of 22.5%, compared to 16% last year. The report suggests that online sales will continue to rise in 2008. As Southern Europe sees the largest increase, with users in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy accounting for 14% in 2007, the UK's 30% share was at its lowest since 1999.

Microsoft tests internet advertising measuring tool
Microsoft Corp announced earlier this month that it would test a new way to measure the effectiveness of online advertising in a challenge to the current industry standard which ties sales, leads and traffic to the last ad that a user has clicked on online.

Microsoft's "Engagement Mapping" began in beta form on March 1 and attempts to take into account all online interactions that lead a consumer to buy a product. The aim is to give advertisers a more accurate assessment of how to plan an integrated campaign online.

Microsoft's new ad initiative follows its purchase of online marketing company aQuantive for £3 billion last year in an effort to capitalise on the fast-growing online ad market and better compete against Google.

Brian McAndrews, senior vice president of the advertiser and publisher solutions unit at Microsoft said: "The 'last ad clicked' is an outdated and flawed approach because it essentially ignores all prior interactions the consumer has with a marketer's message."

"Our Engagement Mapping approach conveys how each ad exposure, whether display, rich media or Search, influenced an eventual purchase,"

Engagement Mapping was unveiled at an Interactive Advertising Bureau conference in the US earlier in the month.

Yahoo! joins Google -led social networking forum
Yahoo! has delivered another snub to Microsoft as it bids to take over the company, by joining forces with Google on social networking initiative, OpenSocial .

Yahoo! has so far declined Microsoft's $45 billion cash and shares offer, saying that it undervalues the company. It further hampered the software giant's takeover plans this month by signing up to OpenSocial, the Google-led consortium which aims to make it easier for software developers to create applications for social networking sites such as Bebo and MySpace.

Under the terms of the OpenSocial agreement, Yahoo! will join the alliance and collaborate with other internet companies such as MySpace, to develop a set of standards that developers can use across all social networking sites.

Many social networking sites have said they welcome applications written by third-party developers that can be downloaded and used by their members, but at present there is no easy way for applications to be shared with other sites. The OpenSocial alliance aims to facilitate the sharing process.

The addition of Yahoo! to OpenSocial means that Facebook and Windows Live Spaces, Microsoft's portal, are now the only major networking sites not to have joined the project.

Google finalises DoubleClick acquisition
Google recently completed its $3.1bn acquisition of online advertising group DoubleClick, after being given the go ahead by European competition authorities. The decision comes almost a year after the announcement of the proposed acquisition and follows a ruling by The European Commission that the transaction is not expected to have any negative effects on consumers.

Following the news, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt predicted that Google would now be able to 'dramatically improve the effectiveness, measurability and performance of digital media for publishers, advertisers and agencies, while improving the relevance of advertising for users'. The acquisition of DoubleClick will launch Google into the online display market, a sector which is likely to grow to $28.6bn by 2010.

Web inventor says Google could be superseded
The man credited with the invention of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, claims that Google may eventually be replaced as the pre-eminent brand on the internet by a company that harnesses the power of a new generation of web technology.

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