Submit Express Newsletter #54
May 6, 2002
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2- Overture Solidifies Three-Year Yahoo Partnership
3- Google to Power AOL
4- Google Debuts Human Search Solution
5- LookSmart goes Pay-per-Click
6- Spring Internet World Convention Review
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The past 30 days will go down in the record books as one of the most
turbulent months in search engine history. Major changes are abounding within the
major powers - some good, some moderate and some simply bad.
Topping the headlines, Google and Overture's battles for dominance in the
pay-per-click market heated to a boiling point as both companies have solidified
new deals with major content providers.
Overture announced last week that they have signed a solid three-year deal
with Yahoo to provide sponsored pay per click listings.
Two days later, Google announced to the world that they have finalized a
deal with AOL to provide not only sponsored listings, but also search result
content. We will also talk briefly about a new Google program called "Google
In headlines from earlier this month, Looksmart changed its paid inclusion
model from a one-time $149 or $299 fee, to a new pay-per-click model. This abrupt
change came without warning and has many people in the e-marketing sector
upset. There is reason to believe that this was a simple case of bait and switch,
leaving advertisers with an empty investment.
On a lighter note, Submit Express attended and displayed at the 2002 Spring
Internet World convention in Los Angeles. We had a great amount of fun and
learned a lot about the post Sept 11 E-Economy. We want to personally thank
the clients that came by to say hi and meet us in person. We have included a
brief rundown of some of the companies that caught our attention.
Feel free to forward this email to all your friends that have websites
who may benefit from this information.
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2- Overture Solidifies Three-Year Yahoo Partnership
Overture, the world's largest provider of pay-per-click advertising
announced that it has officially secured its sponsored listing positions with Internet
giant Yahoo for the next three years.
Last week Overture announced that their U.S. search distribution
relationship with America Online has ended, including AOL, AOL.com, and Compuserve.
Overture's contract with search giant Netscape is scheduled to end on August
Overture feels that although some advertisers may experience a nominal
decrease in paid leads, their marketing reach remains unmatched.
Additionally, Overture will continue to provide its search results to AOL
Europe's Internet properties in the UK, Germany and France. Officially,
Overture's affiliate network includes: Yahoo, MSN, AltaVista, Lycos,
Infospace, Ask Jeeves, and CNET.
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3- Google to Power AOL
In a shocker to the search engine industry, Google announced that its search
technology would soon power AOL, Compuserve, and Netscape. According to the
press release, the rollout will begin immediately and continue throughout
the next few weeks. In addition to offering its new partners access to its deep
index of billions of documents, Google will also display its targeted paid
listings on AOL. The agreement calls for Google to start providing search
results this summer on the AOL and CompuServe subscription services and the
AOL and Netscape Web sites. Google's ads have already started appearing on the
AOL service and site, and will be introduced on CompuServe and the Netscape site
in several weeks.
This news is a heavy blow to both Inktomi and Overture. Inktomi, which had
supplied AOL with its primary search data, has lost a crucial partner.
Furthermore, Overture has lost a big-name partner that will reduce its
visibility and value for advertisers. However, Overture will continue to
provide its ads to AOL Europe through an existing multi-year deal.
In a legal move, probably to discourage others from partnering up with
Google, Overture filed a patent lawsuit against Google few weeks before the
announcement of Google/AOL deal. In response to the lawsuit, Google said "This does not
come as a surprise to us, since Overture is engaged in another lawsuit concerning
this patent with FindWhat.com (FWHT). We have analyzed the patent and
determined that we do not infringe any valid claim that it contains. Beyond that, we
cannot comment for reasons involving legal strategy."
What does the AOL/Google deal mean for the search engine industry? It means
that Google just became a lot more powerful! Web site owners that we have
spoken with have voiced concerns about Google's increasing dominance.
Google is already the largest contributor of search engine referrals for many of our
clients and this new relationship means that ranking well in Google is even
On a side note, Google recently announced some editorial guidelines for the
AdWords program, such as not using all caps and repeating words in your
title or description. If you are a currently an AdWords advertiser, you may need to
login to your account and modify your listings or some of your listing may fail to
show up. Those listings that require modification will be automatically
marked so in red with a note next to it.
If you are not already an AdWords advertisers, we recommend opening up a new
account. You can open up an account for free to find out what it will cost
for keywords related to your site. Payment is only required if or when you
decide to activate your account. For details or to open up an account, please visit:
4- Google Debuts Human Search Solution
Sometimes even experienced Google searchers need help finding information
online. Google has introduced a human powered solution named Google
Answers.This program offers an online message forum that allows information seekers
an opportunity to post questions that are then answered by paid Google
The information seeker attributes a specific dollar amount for an answer to
their question. Currently, these amounts range from a minimum of $4.00 per
question to a maximum of $50.00 per question, plus a non-refundable listing
fee of $0.50 per question. The more research that is required to find the
answer, the more valuable it is. The Google researcher who successfully answers the
question receives 75% of the question's value for their work, and Google
receives 25% for maintaining the forum.
Google says that any question can be asked, as long as the answer can be
explained with words or numbers. Most questions seem to be answered within
one day and the service seems perfect for a busy professional looking for an
answer to a burning question without the time or research skills to find it
themselves. For more details visit:
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5- LookSmart goes Pay-per-Click
On April 9th, Looksmart publicly announced to the world that they had, as of
that day, made the transformation from human edited directory, to a pay-per-
click search engine. Shortly after, we also received a phone call from them
explaining that since our company SubmitExpress.com is a valued partner of
LookSmart they wanted to tell us about their new program first hand. They
spent about half hour with us going over the details of the new program and also
informed us that we will no longer receive commissions on referrals to them
through our site and were asked to remove their banners.
With absolutely no notice, Looksmart changed from their standard $149/$299
one-time paid inclusion fee to a new program based on a $49 setup and
standardized click through rates of 15 cents per click. Additionally there is a minimum
account deposit of $150 to initiate a new account.
What began as a bold step into the pay-per-click realm for LookSmart, has
officially backfired with extreme prejudice. The new program not only
created a stir in the search engine marketing community, it managed to confuse nearly
every business currently indexed in their system. Reports from individual
webmasters to major search engine news publications are criticizing the new
system saying that it is an unethical bait and switch.
Most of LookSmart's advertisers paid $299 for what they believed was a
lifetime membership into the Looksmart directory. With LookSmart's new PPC program,
advertisers were sent an email with an option to upgrade to the new program
and were offered $300 in free clicks or to be permanently removed, making it
seem like advertisers are getting a great value. The offer seems nice at first
glance, however there is one catch the $300 free clicks will be spread out
over 20 months, meaning advertisers will actually get $15/month credit or 100
clicks. Furthermore, if the $15/month budget is not spent, it will not roll over to
the next month.
Advertisers are given until July 11th to convert to the new program. Those
who decline to do so will be removed and if they decide to get back in later,
they must pay a $49 setup fee.
We decided to activate one of our accounts, which had over a hundred of our
client domain names. Several of our clients reached their maximum monthly
limit within a few days. We received an email notification every time each client
reached their limit saying that they will be removed or we must allocate
more clicks/funds to the account. To our surprise these sites were never
dropped, even though we did not allocate more clicks/funds. It turns out that we are
given free clicks until July 11th, no matter if the account has been activated or
not, so there is no real benefit of waiting until July 11th to activate your
Looksmart also informed us that each new account would get to provide 10
keywords. This was sort of a good news as now we would be able to come up
better in the search results. However, come to find out, existing accounts
will have to pay $49 to provide the 10 keywords and any additional changes in the
future will also be subject to a $49 editorial fee. Boy, were we upset!
LookSmart tried to make us feel better by offering a $20 off coupon to use
towards the update fee. This coupon is part if the email sent to existing
Many Looksmart advertisers will receive far more than 100 clicks from
Looksmart and its partners (such as MSN) each month. This is important to note,
because a click from a Looksmart partner also costs 15 cents. There are several
reports from unsatisfied advertisers who claim that they received far less traffic
from LookSmart and its partners than LookSmart has charged them so far. An
explanation could be that search results from Inktomi are also counted
towards the clicks. As you may know, Inktomi has a partnership with LookSmart. Inktomi
uses the title and description provided by LookSmart. It is thought that
search results in Inktomi are also subject to the 15 cents per click charge. This
was not confirmed by LookSmart. We have sent an email to our contact at
LookSmart enquiring about this and we will have an update in our next issue. If this
is true, it would mean that Inktomi is double dipping advertisers, by charging
a paid inclusion fee and also charging CPC charges via LookSmart.
Looking further in our account, we found that the LookSmart tracking was
very poor and not to our satisfaction. It simply states the number of clicks
received. No explanation of which of the partners these clicks came from or
what keywords were used. If better tracking was provided, it may help the
advertisers in deciding to continue with the service or not.
Our recommendation to our readers who are current LookSmart advertisers is
to renew their account at least to receive the free $15/month clicks and also
voice your complains by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Although, it is
highly unlikely that LookSmart will go back to the old system. Maybe we can
hope that this will result in additional free clicks. Ultimately, it comes down
to this: is 15 cents a click worth it for your site? Many people were upset
when Overture (formerly GOTO) raised their minimum cost-per-click to 5 cents from
a penny. No doubt, that many sites will not be able to afford 15 cents a click
and will discontinue their service with LookSmart.
Looksmart has clearly made this unforeseen change in an effort to boost
revenues. The move should work if they can retain enough of advertisers.
Unfortunately, there may not be enough advertisers who place that much value
on a Looksmart listing.
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6- Spring Internet World Convention Review
This year's Spring Internet World Convention, which took place in Los Angles
on April 24-26th, was much smaller than previous years. Three years ago the
size of the show was three times bigger and took place in 3 halls. This year the
show was in one hall and it was combined with another show "Streaming Media." It
was apparent that many companies that were present in previous years had either
gone under or did not show up because of the economy.
However the size of the show did not stop the crowd from coming. The show
looked very busy, although the attendance was probably down slightly. The show
organizers were expecting fifteen to twenty thousand attendees.
It was the 2nd year that we attended this show as an exhibitor. Our booth
was one of the busiest booths compared to those around us. It was apparent that
many people were interested in what we had to offer as the attendees were
made up of primarily Business and IT professionals. We are very glad that we got
to meet some of our existing clients and newsletter readers, all of whom
received a nice Submit Express T-Shirt.
We have posted a few pictures online at:
Although the show was not too big, there were still some interesting
exhibitors. We will give you a review of a few of the webmaster related services and
products that we believe will interest you.
The most interesting service comes from a company called "Fonix" for a
service called "Speak This", who had their booth right next to us. Website owners
can simply place a small button on their site that displays the logo "Speak
This" and when visitors click on it, their website content will be read back via a
computer generated voice. This functionality takes place in real-time using
Fonix servers and it is not a pre-recorded voice. Meaning if you changed
your website content at any time, you will not need to update the voice. The
service starts at a surprisingly low price. It is only $6.95/month for up to 25
website pages. For more details, you can visit their website at:
Another interesting service comes from a company called AccuWeather. They
offer a software plug-in to display weather forecasts on your website.
Content is available in various formats such as raw data and XML and it is
customizable to the client's needs. They also offer a downloadable application version of
their software, which can be co-branded with the client's logo and even pays
25% of revenue from banner advertising to the site owner. For more details,
Groopz.com demonstrated a webpage plug-in software that allows you to
communicate with your site visitors via a pop-up chat window. There are a
few other similar software in the market, with most popular being Human Click
(recently purchased by LivePerson). However, what impressed me about Groopz
was that the site manager can monitor the site visitors and initiate the chat
pop-up window, rather than waiting for the visitor to initiate the chat. It comes
with an impressive administration window where you can view all site visitors and
initiate conversation with several visitors at once. When a visitor arrives
to the site, they will automatically be assigned a unique identification name,
which can be changed later once the visitor's name has been asked. All
communication is also saved in a database format and can be accessed in the
future. A more advanced product from Groopz, called "LeadScan," will also
allow you to filter your site visitors based on certain demographics such as A
users platform (Windows, Linux, MacOS, etc.), IP address or a particular path they
have taken through your site. For mor info on this product visit:
- RedDot / SuperUpdate / InfoServe
One of the buzzwords of this year's show was "Content Management." There
were several exhibitors that were offering Content Management software. This was
a relatively new idea to us, so I will try to explain it as best as I can.
Content Management software is basically a web-based website editing software that
makes it easy for site owners who are not familiar with HTML and website design to
edit their site contents. Ideally, this software will be used for existing
websites created by a professional designer, only now whoever uses the
software can simply click on a few buttons to edit various sections of the website.
The software does not come cheap and prices start at $500/month or $3000 to
purchase. The following were some of the companies present at the Internet
World Convention, offering Content Management Software:
Also present at the show was ClickXchange who provides affiliate program
services. They basically provide affiliate program management and cost much
less than some of their competitors such as Commission Junction and BeFree.
Unlike Commission Junction, they also offer cost-per-click programs. Recently,
Glenn Sobel of AffliateAdvisor.com, who is an Affiliate Program Guru and
consultant, has worked with them to update their user agreement and has made it more
friendlier to affiliates. We highly recommend their program to advertisers
and affiliates looking to publish banners on their sites. For more details see:
- Game House:
Game House, who had their booth right behind us, displayed several Java
based games that can be licensed to be used on any website. They also offer
downloadable versions of their games for free trial or purchase. Their
affiliate program will allow any webmaster to offer downloads to their site visitors
and earn a commission. For more details visit:
Some other companies present at the show that are worth a mention were
Overture, Inktomi and AOL. It is a shame that many of the big name Internet companies
and search engines were not present. Missing in action were such companies as
Yahoo, AltaVista, Google, LookSmart, Terra Lycos, Ask Jeeves, BeFree and Commission
junction, some of which were exhibitors in previous years.
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