Google Changes to Help Advertisers

In a move which they hope will be of huge benefit to advertisers, Google have unveiled two major changes to their AdWords interface.

Firstly, they intend to offer three additional components to the quality score and secondly, they have introduced account labels to improve the ease of grouping together keywords, ads, ad groups and campaigns.

Speaking about the changes, Jonathan Alferness, the direction of product management at Google said “This is going to give advertisers a deeper look into where they might spend more time focusing and optimizing,”

Quality Score

Quality score is one of the most important tools for marketers, advertisers and the firms which employ them to online-market their websites. They give a clear indication of how relevant and how well seen keywords will be and enable the proposed keywords to be changed if necessary. The changes will allow uses to see their proposed keywords being ranked as “average” “above average” and “below average”.

From this, it is hoped that they will be able to get a much better indication of how the keyword is likely to perform in the “real world” and make any changes they need to before they run with a particular keyword or SEO strategy.

Alferness commented that although it was difficult to “quantify the impact it may have on Quality Score improvements, feedback from marketers had been positive.”

Labels

The theory behind labels is that they will help advertisers group and compare elements of a campaign which could not traditionally be grouped together. For example, ads and keywords might be an integral part of a campaign but might “live” in different parts of an account.

However, adding a label which dragged them all together and allowed them to be seen and compared at the same time could enable the marketer to assess how they worked separately and together. This could also allow different labels to be trialled for a better idea of their effectiveness.

This new technology is likely to be rolled out to advertisers very shortly and all eyes are on Google to see how it performs and the effect it has.

 

Zuckerberg Goes Behind the Boards’ Back

When Facebook announced their $1bn takeover of Instagram, many IT watchers and industry insiders were surprised, as were the board. Accounts reporting how Zuckerberg neglected to discuss the purchase with the Facebook board have now surfaced and suggest that no bankers or lawyers were involved in what has been called a “sofa based deal”

“Three Day Negotiations”

A report in the Wall Street Journal suggests that far from being a board meeting arrangement, the takeover deal which now sees the colour changing photo software in the hands of Zuckerberg and the Facebook brand was thrashed out during three days of negotiations at Zuckerbergs’ home in Palo Alto.

The deal was finally agreed on Sunday 8 April and Zuckerberg announced the news on his own Facebook page saying “”We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.” He went on to say “That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.”

“Told, not consulted”

The Wall Street Journal stated that their source was a person familiar with the matter and suggested that the CEO of Instagram Kevin Systrom had initially asked for $2bn for the company, which has no cash flow and a staff of 13.

It was only at the end of the negotiations in which Zuckerberg broke the $2bn down to $1bn, that he informed the board and the WSJ confirmed that the board was “was told, not consulted”.

It has also been suggested that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg only became aware that Zuckerberg wanted to do that deal days before the negotiations started. Zuckerberg had expressed interest in the company before but was pushed to action when Instagram announced that they had received $50m of venture funding, pushing their value to $500m.

Google Chief Accuses Monopoly Companies of Threatening the Web

In a move which is sure to create controversy, Google Chief Sergey Brin has launched a blistering attack on rival companies Apple and Facebook and what he calls “repressive Governments”. He claims that “Freedom of information and openness on the internet is being eroded by repressive governments and the rise of Apple and Facebook”.

Discussing with UK daily newspaper The Guardian Mr Brin suggested that he and business partner Larry Page would not have been able to create their search engine in current climate, as the web is dominated by Facebook and Apple. He went on to claim that he was more worried than ever before for the future of the internet saying “it’s scary”

The Vanishing of the Openness of the Web

Mr Brin went on to describe how the openness of the web, which “fuelled the information revolution” is vanishing because of censuring by countries such as China. He discussed his beliefs that five years ago he did not believe that China, or any other country for that matter, would be able to restrict the internet but that sadly he had been proven wrong.

Discussing the restrictions, he said “I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle.”

The Monopoly

The majority of his vitriol seemed to be reserved for rivals Facebook and Apple as he maligned the loss of and threat to “the principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago”

His criticisms of the two Media and Technology giants are seen as being particularly controversial and there will almost certainly be ramifications in a war of words which is sure to escalate.

In a further attack on sites who restrict members’ activity, Mr Brin claimed that the entertainment industry was in danger of “shooting itself in the foot” during efforts to lobby for extended and more powerful laws against pirate material, saying that as long as pirated content was easier to acquire and use, it would continue to be used.

AOL sells more than 800 patents to Microsoft for over $1 billion

The once highly prestigious global Internet services provider AOL has announced that it is selling more than 800 pieces of its patent portfolio to Microsoft at a price tag of $1.056 billion. AOL is also set to license its remaining intellectual property to many companies, including Redmond, and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is adamant that the deal with Microsoft will hold his company in good stead.

“The agreement with Microsoft represents the culmination of a robust auction process for our patent portfolio,” Mr Armstrong announced. “We continue to hold a valuable patent portfolio as highlighted by the license we entered into with Microsoft. The combined sale and licensing arrangement unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders and enables AOL to continue to aggressively execute on our strategy to create long-term shareholder value.”

An attractive deal for both AOL and Microsoft

A recent analysis by Envision IP has revealed that the pieces of AOL’s patent portfolio which Microsoft has bought are likely to be highly valued by the latter company, as much of the portfolio pieces date to as far back as the beginning of the Internet era. AOL’s largest patent pool, for example, is said to cover communications technology, including much relating to instant messaging and email technology.

Indeed, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, has enthused that “This is a valuable portfolio that we have been following for years and analyzing in detail for several months”. He added that “AOL ran a competitive auction and by participating, Microsoft was able to achieve our two primary goals: obtaining a durable license to the full AOL portfolio and ownership of certain patents that complement our existing portfolio.”

What the future could hold

It is probable that Microsoft could yet aim to get their hands on even more of AOL’s attractive patents. These patents include, for example, 81 relating to internet browsing and 77, issued prior to the birth of Google, concerning search technology, including semantic searching and metadata querying. The possession of such patents could assist Microsoft in future legal campaigns.

Google To Sell Android Packing Tablets Via Web Store

Apparently unimpressed by the success of its hardware partners to take a bite out of Apple’s tablet market share, Google has decided to take on the mantle itself and start selling tablets directly via its own web store. It is not believed that the company will manufacture its own Google specific hardware, yet at least, but the tablets sold will carry Google branding alongside the branding of the hardware manufacturer responsible for creating the tablet.

Google Successes

Google has enjoyed success in many areas of technology and the Internet. Not only are they the world’s most popular and successful search engine but they also offer cloud computing, social media, free mapping, email, and web browser services to users. With the Android mobile operating system, the search giant has also taken a firm hold of the smartphone OS market; something which still eludes them in the tablet OS market.

Google And Motorola

One way in which Google is expected to take a more direct hand in the manufacture and sale of tablet computers is through the proposed acquisition of Motorola. The deal, worth a reported $12.5bn, needs to be cleared by Chinese authorities but, assuming this does occur, the search giant will then be able to produce tablets still under the Motorola name but sporting the latest in Android operating systems.

The Tablet Market

Apple opened up the tablet market with the release of their first iPad and with the iPad 2 they launched a greatly improved and even more popular version of the touch screen, handheld device. While a number of manufacturers have attempted to follow suit and win their own share of the market, results have proven disappointing for most companies. Even Samsung, who are the 2nd largest manufacturer of tablets, have described sales as disappointing.

The Google Web Store

Google will open its own web store and sell Android devices this way, although no announcement on dates has yet been provided. The next major release of the Android operating system, which will be called Jelly Bean, is slated for release mid 2012 so Google could be hard at work trying to develop a store in time for this release.

Google, Apple, And PayPal Among Most Trusted Brands

Every year, the Brand Asset Valuator is used to report which of Australia’s brands are considered to be the most trusted and respected. Major brands like Qantas, who traditionally perform well, have seen steady decline while technology and Internet companies like Google and Apple as well as PayPal and YouTube have risen to the top. In fact, 6 of the top 10 most trusted brands fall within the technology and Internet sector.

Brand Trust

Brand trust is important to businesses and also to consumers. The more trust a brand has, the more belief a consumer puts in their marketing message and companies invest large sums of money in ensuring that their brands are portraying the most suitable message. When a brand sees its trust decline they may also see its revenues and profits begin to dip and it will, at the very least, prove more costly to win business.

The Brand Asset Valuator

The Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) releases a report every year which shows the most trusted and respected brands in the Australian market and this has typically been littered with well known and aged brands. However, a 22% overall decline in brand trust has seen the likes of Qantas fall from the peak, to be replaced with the likes of Apple and Google, who sit second and first respectively in the table of the top 12.

Positions

The BAV includes both companies and products, as well as subsidiaries. Google takes the top spot in the table while Google owned YouTube comes in at number 5. Similarly, Microsoft is at number 6 while Windows 7 is at number 7. PayPal takes number 4 and Ebay number 8. It seems like the more trusted a brand’s products, the more trust the company can muster with its consumers.

Business Reputation

Reputation is important and when a company hits the headlines for product failures and other bad news stories they lose good reputation. The likes of Qantas have seen a considerable and steady dip in their reputation rating which means that they no longer feature in the top 12 brands of the future.

User Administration Added To Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools are a useful and beneficial suite of online tools that are designed specifically for use by website owners, administrators, and marketers. In order to use the service, a webmaster needs to verify their ownership of the site and it has been impossible to give others access to a site’s Webmaster Tools without them going through this verification process. However, following requests from many users, User Administration settings have now been added to the Webmaster Tools suite.

Site Verification

In order to grant access to another user, it is necessary for a site owner to first go through the site verification process. Once this process has been completed, they will then be able to add users and assign them one of three account statuses – Owner, Full, or Restricted access, according to the preferences of the site owner.

New User Statuses

Owner access is for those that have been through the site owner verification process. Owners are able to perform any actions available for a particular site including adding other users. Full Access allows a user to perform virtually all actions regarding the site, but will not enable access to administrative type features like adding other users. Finally, Restricted Access will provide a particular user with the ability to view all data and perform a limited number of functions such as configuring message forwarding.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools provide many pieces of useful information and access to beneficial tools for site owners and administrators. Sitemaps can be submitted, which will lead to a site being indexed or having their index status updated. Broken links can be found and page load speeds can also be checked. With these latest changes it is no longer necessary to have to give out the username and password belonging to a verified site owner which will make access easier and more beneficial.

Google Search

Google remains the king of search engines and, as such, most SEO campaigns tend to concentrate on attracting Google and ensuring that web pages appear high in the rankings of Google results. As such, Webmaster Tools are a popular service and this move will only make them more popular and useful.

Google Will Stalk No More

Google Australia has made some attempt to reassure users that it will stop stalking Safari users, after the search giant was found to have tricked browsers into letting their websites and software bypass security and privacy settings, and ultimately track what the user does while on the Internet. Apple have said that they are working on fixing the problem, Google have said that they have “switched off” the guilty code, and Microsoft have got involved by offering their own alternative.

Google’s Wrongdoings

A Stanford researcher found that Google, as well as a number of publishers and advertisers, had found a way to trick Safari into believing that the user was submitting a form to Google or other websites. This meant that the Safari browser, which disables tracking by default except in these circumstances, allowed tracking by the site. This meant that the likes of Google, who have been coming under fire recently for their privacy habits, could track users’ web surfing habits and actions.

Safari Security

The Safari browser is installed on millions of phones, tablets, computers, and other devices around the world and is part of the Apple package. Typically, it prevents information like browser habits from being tracked and it does this by default. The Chocolate Factory have said that they have done nothing wrong – “We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”

Privacy Pressure

The plea is unlikely to help Google’s cause, who is under pressure by US lawmakers over their privacy and data collection policies. A number of congressman wrote a letter to the FTC asking what they intended to do about this latest piece of news regarding Google’s alleged breaking of privacy laws.

Actions

For their part, Apple has said that they are working on remedying the situation by preventing such action being taken again. Google have said that they are no longer using the code to access users’ cookies, and Microsoft, who are taking every advantage of these increasingly common privacy problems, have released a statement encouraging web users to install and use Internet Explorer for a more secure and private browsing experience.

PayPal Trials QR Code Payment System In Singapore Subways

PayPal has long been at the for of online payments and they continue to advance into new territory with innovative solutions, especially in the mobile payment forum. The online payment processor has unveiled a new system currently called “shop and pay on the go” which enables consumers to quickly scan a QR code from billboards in Singapore subway stations and then make payment using their PayPal account. The process can be completed in as few as 2 clicks.

QR Codes

QR codes are well recognised by mobile users and consumers around the world and they are regularly found on advertisements as well as billboards and posters of virtually every kind. This new step by PayPal looks to be increasing the reach and value of the QR code by creating what is essentially a QR payment system. Scan a QR code for an item you like, make a couple of clicks, and you can buy the item in question. Any QR code scanner will work with the system and many smartphones and mobile devices already have them installed.

The Tech Loving Singapore Market

Singapore has been chosen by PayPal for its mobile, tech savvy consumers. Smartphone penetration hit 70% in the country and PayPal conducted surveys which showed nearly this same percentage of people would be willing to make a purchase using their mobile phone. With the QR payment system now live in 15 Singaporean subway stations, the possibilities for mobile shopping are certainly spreading. Eight merchants have signed up for the trial offering items ranging from flowers to gadgets.

Mobile Malls

The QR codes appear on billboards and posters, making the subway stations something akin to a mobile shopping mall. If the trial works well, it’s easy to envisage shops or entire walls made up of virtual shops, flooded with QR codes for items and special offers although QR payments do still have to compete with other mobile payment solutions such as NFC payments.

The Mobile Payment Market

The mobile market is a rapidly developing market and PayPal itself has doubled its predictions for the total value of mobile payments in 2012. They now predict $7bn worth of payments to be made by mobile phone and other mobile devices.

Solve For X From Google Targets Science Fiction Style Advances

When it comes to grabbing the headlines with new ventures, Google pretty much has the whole game wrapped up. The release of the Android smartphone operating system, the Google Chrome browser, and even the Google+ social network certainly didn’t fail to grab the attention of the world and in many cases they have proven highly successful as a result of this. The latest, which may not see as much press but will certainly garner interest from the more tech savvy, is known as Solve For X.

Solve For X

Solve For X is described as being somewhere between collaborative tool and total science fiction. It brings together some of the finest minds to try and solve global problems; problems that are so baffling and so unfathomably difficult to solve that they are nicknamed “moonshots”. Some of the projects may not necessarily be considered important to most and some of them seem moonshots based entirely on the fact they don’t necessarily have an answer.

The Event

There will be numerous Solve For X physical events that will bring together problem solvers, entrepreneurs, and leading scientists and professionals from a variety of industries. Questions and problems, such as “the future of expertise” will be discussed and mulled over and attendees will be given the opportunity to discuss, debate, and collaborate on these problems to hopefully come to some type of solution.

The Results

The debates will be published online and the results of the first official Solve For X meeting can be found on the Internet. This was held in the Cordevalle Resort in San Martin and you can head over to the official website at WeSolveForX.com in order to see what was discussed. Google have said that they intend to host several of these events every year.

WeSolveForX.com

Quite what you have to do to get an invite is difficult to say but we don’t imagine that you can just ask for one. Fortunately, though, TED conference speaker (which Solve For X has been heavily likened to) Alain de Botton says that such events are best experienced from the outside so that you can avoid the endless card swapping that goes on.

Volunia Search Engine To Challenge US Search Giant Google

Volunia is a name that none, or very few of us, have yet heard, but it is one that designer Massimo Marchiori hopes will rival the likes of Google, the company which he helped inspire during his time back at MIT. Now at the University of Padua, Marchiori has also said that all major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo will use similar technology; technology that he believes will make searching the Internet quicker and more social (something that the likes of Google are trying to achieve).

Social And Search

The worlds of social and search have collided especially in the past year or two. Facebook and Google may have once been separated by a distinct line, but those lines have now been blurred. Facebook wants the display advertising crown and Google wants the social media crown; the two giants look extremely unwilling to share either.

Google Social Features

Google has implemented a number of features, including the social network Google+ and Google Plus Your World which integrates Google Search and Google+. They hope that this combination will help them to best the social network by providing real time and very social results to its millions of daily users. Volunia looks like it will offer the kind of features that Google could really benefit from; ironic considering its founder was one of the inspirations behind the original idea.

Massimo Marchiori And The First Search Algorithm

Marchiori was the brains behind the algorithm that started all algorithms, HyperSearch. This algorithm was used to rank web pages and while it was crude compared to the modern algorithm, it really was what started it all. This was during his time as lecturer at MIT; a position which he left in order to return home to Italy with a position at the University of Padua.

Volunia’s Future Impact

Marchiori told Italian press that he believes all major search engines will use similar features to those offered by Volunia. It will enable users to search for specific bits of a web page and will enable searchers to chat to other registered users who are on the same page; features that will speed up searching, make it more accurate, and provide greater social integration.

New Improved Google Earth Offers The Best Viewing Experience

Google has delivered on its promise to offer a better looking earth, at least to users of its Google Earth application anyway. Whereas images once appeared patchwork like in their rendering, the search giant has deployed new rendering techniques that bring the various photographs and satellite imagery together to create a single and unified look. It is also now possible to share images via their Google+ pages.

Earth Viewing Application

Google Earth is an earth viewing application that enables users to look at the earth from various angles and distances. The technology uses satellite imagery and photos and then combines them into a giant globe. In the past, though, the use of images taken from various sources has meant that Earth hasn’t quite looked as beautiful as it should but the use of different rendering technology means that this is no longer the case and it is now possible to look at the planet as a single, unified globe.

Social Features

New social features have also been added to the service. Google+ members can now log in to their page and share their favourite pictures with other members. Google hopes that the service will be used for members to share the places they have visited with their circles of friends and it is another way in which they are pushing their new social networking feature.

Google Products

Google is best known for being a search engine although this is far from being the only service which they offer. Registered members can enjoy access to webmail, cloud computing, document collaboration, and many other features. Google Earth officially started in 2005 and this is unarguably the best looking update that the service has received. Images are considerably clearer and the best results are those that are viewed from distance where differing weather patterns and times of day are no longer a major influence on the quality of the image.

Google Plus

One of the company’s most recent services is the social network Google+, which they hope will compete with the likes of Facebook. Users can click in the top right corner of a Google Earth image and choose to share that image with their circles of friends.

Searchers Can Now Report Rich Snippet Spam

Google, constantly on the warpath of any webmaster that may attempt to hoodwink the search engine into giving them better results than they should enjoy, has introduced a means by which people can report rich snippet spam. Rich snippets were actually introduced a couple of years ago but a greater number of webmasters have been abusing the service in order to inflate the appearance of their own websites in the search results. Apparently, Google doesn’t like it.

What Are Rich Snippets?

When you conduct a search on Google, the results you see are compiled using a number of algorithms. The search engine attempts to show you a page  title and description while providing that all important link to your website. Rich snippets areare the section that show up below the title and link of your site, including reviews and even price ranges. They don’t appear for all sites because it is down to the webmaster to insert microformat code to help Google determine what information should be displayed. It is more common to find rich snippets during product searches.

User Control

User Control the section that show up below the title and link of your site, including reviews and even price ranges. They don’t appear for all sites because it is down to the webmaster to insert microformat code to help Google determine what information should be displayed. It is more common to find rich snippets during product searches.

The fact that webmasters control their own rich snippets means that the service is open for abuse, and abuse is what has been occurring. While many sites use the format legitimately, there are those that are using fake results in order to further their own search results and improve the amount of traffic they are receiving from the search giant.

Google’s Response

Googler Pierre Far has posted on his Google+ page that searchers can now report instances of Rich Snippet spam and they have the power to take individual action against sites that are duping users. It sounds as though the most likely penalty will come in the form of a website having rich snippets disabled manually so that they simply won’t show up.

Report Spam

Google is constantly attempting to find ways to improve search results for its users and, at the same time, spammers are constantly trying to find ways in which to dupe the search giant. The battle is a long and ongoing one, but users are often encouraged to help Google find such participating websites. If you see Rich Snippet spam you can report it at this page.

Australian Open Social Media Campaign Looking To Boost Event Popularity

It could turn out to be one of the most mutually beneficial relationships on the Internet so far. The Australian Open is being followed with fervour by fans new and old from around the world thanks to a suite of social media based tools and applications that let anybody get involved with the event. Wherever you live and whoever your favourite player is, you can follow everything that is going on using a range of innovative solutions like the Fan Centre.

The Australian Open

Although it is one of the biggest events in the tennis calendar, the Australian Open has always struggled to pull the crowds in the same way other Open events do. This is largely because of the time differences between here and other countries, but with the backing of extensive social media planning, this could all change this year as more and more people are encouraged to become more involved while following the games.

The Fan Centre

The Fan Centre is the primary service that is being offered to tennis lovers. It offers news and updates from the tournament but this is only the beginning of what’s on offer. There are social media and social features that have yet to be witnessed at other major sporting events and it seems that fans are really taking to the whole experience. It could well pave the way for future events to adopt a similar social policy.

Interaction

The Social Leaderboard lists those players that are creating the biggest buzz on the social scene. Unsurprisingly, it is Nadal and Federer that head up the list closely followed by Sharapova but it provides great access to some of the very latest information, statistics, and news about these and other competitors.

Competitions

In order to encourage even more interaction between users, there are a number of competitions taking place at the Fan Centre too. Caption contests, fan of the day prizes, and many other games are being held and this is helping to draw in a larger crowd than would ordinarily be expected to follow the Australian Open whether it’s on the Internet or via other forms of media.

Online Gaming Can Worsen Existing Gambling Problems

The Internet is a powerful business tool, the fastest form of communication, and has led to numerous successful innovations by individuals and groups around the world. It is also, apparently, a more convenient and easily accessible vehicle for driving gambling addiction. At least, these are the findings of research conducted by the University of Sydney and Southern Cross University. The ease of access is cited as being the biggest reason for online gambling popularity.

The Survey

The universities conducted what was the largest survey of Australian online gamblers with 6680 participants asked a variety of questions on their gambling habits. The survey showed that gamblers with existing problems were exposed to increased risks but that the existence of Internet gambling did not necessarily lead to an increase in the number of problem gamblers in the country. The use of bank transfers and credit card payments is apparently largely responsible for the increased problems that gamblers face.

Improvements In Technology

The technology behind Internet gambling and the Internet in general has increased massively in recent years so while it has been possible to gamble online since the 1990s, it has become easier to access more recently. You can register with a website, download their software, deposit funds, and be playing games like blackjack and slot machines in a matter of minutes. The researchers are calling for a number of changes and safeguards to be put in place before the problem worsens.

Problem Gamblers

450 problem gamblers were highlighted in the study and more than half said that being able to deposit money so easily and quickly using credit cards and bank transfers meant that they were spending more money than they normally would. Less than 10% of non-problem gamblers highlighted the same problem indicating that existing problems can be exacerbated but it’s unlikely that online gambling will cause the emergence of more problem gamblers.

Possible Improvements

The researchers have indicated a number of ways in which the situation could apparently be improved. They believe that gamblers should be encouraged to set limits on their spending while also being served warnings or being forced to take a break after a particular extensive gambling session.

Microsoft Overtakes Yahoo In Search Wars

The search wars are an ongoing, constant battle between the three major search super powers. In the US, at least, it appears that Microsoft has overtaken Yahoo in terms of market share. However, Microsoft results now power Yahoo search anyway which means that this seems like a hollow victory. The victory becomes even bitterer as the two sites combined experienced an overall loss when compared to the biggest of them all, Google.

Google Dominance

Google has long retained a position of superiority at the top of the search engine market share wars. More people use Google websites to search than all of the competition sites put together and by some clear margin. In the US, the figures are actually closer than in a lot of countries. While around two thirds of American searches are done on Google, in Australia as well as the UK and other countries, the search giant enjoys a more monopolistic 90% figure.

Search Engine Figures

There are a number of services and companies that track search engine market share. They determine the number of searches conducted on each search engine and then compare them, track them, and analyse them. Comscore is one such company and according to their most recent figures, in the USA, Microsoft enjoyed a 15.1% market share in December of last year while Yahoo only mustered a 14.5% share. Google retained top position, as expected, with 65.9%.

Movement

There was some movement from all three compared to the month previous but this doesn’t make for quite such an optimistic read. Google saw a 0.5% rise from the 65.4% of November while Microsoft saw a meagre 0.1% increase. Yahoo, however, dropped 0.6% down from 15.1% the month before. As Yahoo and Microsoft are now powered by the same Bing search results, this means that they actually witnessed a drop in market share for the period.

Three Become Two

While the search engine wars have always been considered a 3 horse race, the fact is that this is no longer really the case. Overtaking Yahoo means little considering Yahoo results are powered by Microsoft anyway. They need to start making a dent in Google figures; something which still doesn’t appear to be happening.

PayPal Merchants Record Busiest Christmas Period Ever

The world may be in a constant threat of financial crisis and many merchants across the world may have bemoaned poor high street results for the festive period but PayPal merchants have seen the benefits. They have recorded what was the busiest Christmas period ever in 2011 as consumers head to virtual stores in a bid to try and save money while finding the best deals on the latest products.

Online Shopping

Online shopping offers a number of benefits. Consumers are able to research the products they buy in order to find the best prices, read reviews, and ensure that they really are getting the best value for money from every purchase. Online shopping is also more convenient as it means that consumers can make their purchases from the comfort of their own home without even needing to head out of the house.

PayPal Australia

As one of the world’s largest payment processors, PayPal is responsible for processing the payments of many of Australia’s online merchants. According to Elena Wise, the acting managing director of PayPal Australia, these merchants have enjoyed the best Christmas period on record. She also pointed to the week beginning December 5th as experiencing the greatest peak in online spending although also noted that there were further peaks during mid November and mid December.

Benefits To Retailers

Retailers are constantly being told the benefits of offering their products and services online as well as via bricks and mortar stores and those that have heeded this advice, at least here in Australia, are the most likely to have enjoyed a profitable festive period. According to Ms Wise this is because consumers are happy switching between retail channels and are extremely savvy at finding the best deals available for the items they want.

Taking Your Store Online

Many major retailers have gone online in the past 18 months and findings show that these companies have not only benefited but have also helped the increase in sales figures. PayPal also noted that Australian consumers are loyal to local companies with many of the purchases they make being made with companies from across the country rather than from overseas retailers and merchants.

Most Australian Retailers To Join Online Trend

The refusal to lower the general sales tax threshold and a continued increase in the percentage of people that prefer to shop online now has seen an even greater increase in the number of commerce companies that are turning their attention to the Internet rather than the more traditional bricks and mortar store. The lower overheads almost certainly play a part too, especially as recession tends to lead businesses to try and find more economical ways to run their organisations.

The Ecommerce Trend

The trend towards ecommerce has been full steam ahead for consumers for some time now and this doesn’t look likely to abate. Every year, new figures show that more people bought online than the year before and 2011 was no different. It’s hard to find exact figures but estimates show that 2009 saw around $19bn spent online, with 2011 showing around $24bn. PayPal Australia are predicting an even bigger windfall this year with a rise to nearly $34bn expected.

Increases Across The Board

The increases are big and it isn’t just total spend that’s increased either. The average sale value per customer has also risen. The last six months saw a $130 increase in average spend per customer to reach $1,223 compared to the same period in 2009. It seems then that there’s more consumers going online and they are spending more money. There’s even more retailers setting up which means that Internet commerce continues to burgeon.

Setting Up Ecommerce Websites Abroad

A lot of businesses, however, are opening their websites based in countries around the world, following a number of major companies. This is because the government has refused to lower the GST from $1,000 to $20 which retailers and consumers were demanding. This makes it more attractive for companies to set up websites abroad so that their customers can avoid having to pay this additional tax, making their prices more competitive.

Global Comparison

Australia still falls behind other ecommerce markets such as those in the UK and the US where more money is spent per capita and more people conduct their shopping online.

Internet Overtakes TV

British government body Ofcom has released findings that show Internet has replaced TV as the most popular form of media in Australia and it looks likely to topple the silver screen in Italy, France, Germany, UK, and the US shortly too. Many have been predicting this for some time and as the Internet is now available on more devices and offering a greater range of content than ever before it is hardly surprising.

The worlds of TV and Internet have collided in many respects. You can catch up on popular TV shows by logging on to the Internet and there are even Internet exclusive shows available to fans of particular TV shows. The reverse is also true and more and more TVs now include Internet access – with the second wave of Google TV due to start this week, the trend only looks likely to continue too.

Leading the Pack with iPads

While Australia falls behind the pack in the uptake of 3D and web enabled TVs, with between 6% and 9% uptake, we lead the way in tablet computer uptake as 12% of participants in the Ofcom led survey used a tablet PC. Australia also ranked third for smartphone uptake at 48% while an 11% adoption rate for DAB put us some way behind the UK, who lead the pack at 34%.

When it comes to the type of media we consume on a daily basis, 93% of us access the Internet at least every week. 90% watch a television every week and 70% listen to the radio. 58% read a local newspaper compared with 38% who read a magazine and only 37% who read a national newspaper.

Perhaps the biggest driver of Internet usage is that you can do everything on the Internet that is offered by other forms of media. You can watch TV, read newspapers and magazines, and listen to the radio from the same device. What’s more, with an increasingly wide array of Internet enabled devices being made available, it is little wonder that more and more of us are heading online rather than to the local shop or even to the remote control.

Mobile Internet Usage In Australia On The Up

Driven by a continued increase in demand for social networking, as well as a continued reliance on search engines, mobile Internet usage continues to climb. The slew of smartphones and mobile devices that have been released has helped fuel the flames which, according to research group Nielsen, has seen a year on year increase of 71% compared to the same time last year. Usage is largely split between men and women, but the majority are over the age of 35.

Nielsen compiles statistics on Internet usage and activity from around the world and has recently launched their own online ratings system. They say that these latest figures show that the Australian market is changing the way it accesses and indeed uses data and the Internet in general. For marketers this means that greater concentration should be paid to ensuring a mobile friendly online environment.

Smartphones and mobile devices do not necessarily cope well with standard web pages. Images are clunky and typical designs, laden with ad units and other elements can be extremely displeasing to the user. While it may not be necessary to have a dedicated mobile app available for every operating system available, having a website that displays properly on a variety of screen sizes and processors should be considered more important than ever.

In November, 16.3 million people were active online and each person visited an average of 2941 web pages each. This indicates that people aren’t simply dipping in and leaving, instead taking the time to look around and find the content that interests them the most. A rich mobile environment could certainly help businesses gain greater interest from the mobile market.

60% of those people that went online were aged 35 or over, dispelling the myth that mobile Internet is only being used by the young crowd, who are typically seen as being the more tech savvy. There has also been an increase in the average salary of Internet and mobile web users too, giving mobile marketers real incentive to engage with their leads and potential customers through this unique channel. If your online presence isn’t mobile yet, then you should consider it a priority.

Small Business SEO Tips

When people search for information they are becoming increasingly likely to turn to the Internet to find that information. Whether they want to see what others think of a particular business or they want details of a local business in their area, they generally turn to the search engines and this is where small business SEO can really help your website.

Branding

If you don’t develop your own site and ensure it appears at the top of search rankings, then you do not control the content that people see when they search online. You should concentrate some of your efforts on SEO for your brand, your company name, and even your personal name because some customers will search for information when they are considering dealing with you. Controlling the search results means that you control what your potential customers read.

Promotion

Conduct SEO keyword research to find targeted keywords that your prospective clients are searching for. Implement these in your site content and also into your link building efforts. Doing so will help you generate large amounts of traffic, over time, and that traffic will be targeted and poised to take the next step in the purchasing process on your website.