The accelerating decline of newspapers

U.S. newspaper circulation has hit its lowest level in seven decades, as papers across the country lost 10.6 percent of their paying readers from April through September, compared with a year earlier.

The newest numbers on newspaper circulation, released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, paint a dismal picture for an industry already feeling the pressures of an advertising slump coupled with the worst business downturn since the Great Depression.

The ABC data estimate that 30.4 million Americans now pay to buy a newspaper Monday through Saturday, on average, and about 40 million do so on Sunday. These figures come from 379 of the nation's largest newspapers. In 1940, 41.1 million Americans bought a daily newspaper, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

In September, for instance, Nielsen reported that the New York Times was the Internet's most popular newspaper site, with an average of 21.5 million unique visitors per month, up 7 percent compared with a year earlier. Yet last week, the Times Co. reported a 27 percent drop in ad revenue for the quarter. At The Washington Post, which has lost $143 million through the first six months of 2009, the number of monthly unique online users was down 29 percent, to 9.2 million, compared with September of last year, just before the presidential election.

Read more @ The Washington Post

Better Twitter Results in Google Search

A Google blog post announces that Google has “reached an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in the search results”. Real-time results from Twitter will probably included in a special OneBox triggered by keywords that are suddenly popular in Twitter.

“We believe that our search results and user experience will greatly benefit from the inclusion of this up-to-the-minute data, and we look forward to having a product that showcases how tweets can make search better in the coming months. That way, the next time you search for something that can be aided by a real-time observation, say, snow conditions at your favorite ski resort, you’ll find tweets from other users who are there and sharing the latest and greatest information,” explains Marissa Mayer.

The most difficult problem that Google has to solve is ranking tweets, as most microblogging search engines sort the results by date and aren’t able to filter spam and irrelevant results.

Twitter’s blog explains why the company co-founded by two ex-Googlers partnered with Google. “Our friends down in Mountain View want to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. A fast growing amount of information is coursing through Twitter very quickly, and we want there to be many ways to access that information. As part of that effort, we’ve partnered with Google to index the entire world of public tweets as fast as possible and present them to their users in an organized and relevant fashion.”

In the meantime, Bing has released a Twitter search engine that sorts the results by date and highlights the top links shared by Twitter users.

Microsoft Reaches Deal To Bring Twitter And Facebook Data To Bing

Microsoft has reached deals with both Twitter and Facebook to include real-time feeds from both sites in Bing’s results. The Twitter deal had been rumored for several weeks, although the addition of Facebook data to Bing comes as a surprise. Under the Twitter partnership, Bing users will now be able to search for a query, and then immediately see a constantly refreshing stream of Tweets roll in. The results can be filtered by date or by “best match.” A beta version of the feature—which you can visit here—just went live; the Facebook tie-in will follow at an unspecified “later date.”
All of the major search engines have coveted some sort of deal with Twitter, since the microblogging service is being widely used to search for what people are thinking about a certain topic at a given moment. Facebook’s use as a real-time public pulse finder has been more limited, since so many Facebook users keep their status updates private. That is slowly changing, however, because of recent changes Facebook has made to its privacy settings.
The deal is a coup for Microsoft because—as Kara Swisher, who first reported the news, points out—Bing will now be able to offer access to data that Google does not have. Google does index Facebook and Twitter for public status updates, but there is a significant lag. Microsoft’s advantage, however, may not last long. Google too has been talking to Twitter and Facebook about getting access to their real-time feeds, and Microsoft’s deals with both Twitter and Facebook are reportedly non-exclusive.
Microsoft did not release any financial terms of the deals, but earlier reports said a deal could involve a “several million dollar” payment to Twitter and also include ad revenue sharing. Microsoft and Facebook already have a relationship, since Microsoft owns a 1.6 percent stake in the social network.

Google Analytics Gets a Bunch of New Features

Google announced a number of new and upcoming features for Google Analytics today. The features, Google says, focus on three things: power, flexibility, and intelligence.

It is the intelligence aspect, which Google places the most prominence on, and this comes in the form of a feature called "Analytics Intelligence," which will provide users with automatic alerts of significant changes in the data patterns of their site metrics and dimensions over daily, weekly, and monthly periods. Users can be notified by email or right within the Google Analytics user interface.

Google has also added goals for "time on site" and "pages per visit," as well as the ability to define up to 20 goals per profile. Here's some more on that:

Google Analytics now tracks mobile websites and mobile apps so you can better measure your mobile marketing efforts. They will be adding a code snippet for users to add to their mobile sites. PHP, Perl, JSP, and ASPX sites will be supported.

"iPhone and Android mobile application developers can now also track how users engage with apps, just as with tracking engagement on a website," says Dai Pham of the Google Analytics Team. "What's more, for apps on Android devices, usage can be tied back to ad campaigns: from ad to marketplace to download to engagement."

They have also added Advanced Table Filtering, which allows you to filter the rows in a table based on different metric conditions. Here's more on that feature:

Now when you create a Custom Report, you can select Unique Visitors as a metric against any dimensions in Google Analytics, and they are also adding multiple custom variables to the tracking API and making it easy to share Custom Reports and Advanced Segments.

Google says that it will be going into more detail on the new features in the coming days on the Google Analytics Blog. The features will be appearing in Google Analytics accounts gradually over the coming weeks.

Credit to WebProNews

Madison Avenue: Applying Traditional Marketing Best Practices to Search Marketing

The legendary reputations in the American advertising industry were built by brand visionaries who worked for large ad firms in New York. While many of these prominent icons of marketing are hailed for their genius, the true value they deliver is in distilling messages that speak to a consumer's wants and needs.

Beyond catchy slogans and brand icons, web marketing today is about gathering data and targeting your customers with offers that are custom tailored to their location, budget and needs.

A Data-Driven Approach to Marketing

Traditional advertising firms often conduct surveys or test groups in order to analyze the impact of a particular message before releasing a product. In today's marketing environment, trends are constantly shifting and you can launch a new campaign in a matter of hours based upon what you learn from your customers.

Web analytics provides insights into which parts of your website are generating the most leads and which need to be improved to ensure a seamless conversion funnel from beginning to end. The major advantage of small businesses today is that you can be nimble, responding to shifts in the marketplace by introducing a new special offer, service offering or approach that might take your larger competitors weeks to create.

As a successful business owner, you understand the power of cultivating brand loyalty through personal relationships. Effective online marketing carries those principles over from traditional advertising by segmenting potential customers according to their needs, and adjusting that message in real-time.

Are All 800 Numbers Treated Equal?

Whether it's the power of subconscious perception or reasoned logic, subtle clues on a web page can strongly impact our behavior on that site. Take for example the display of toll-free phone numbers. Most sites invite calls from visitors by prominently displaying their phone number on their web pages. Many times, these numbers are of the toll-free variety, with prefixes of "800", "888", "877" or "866".

Although the "800" prefix has been around for over 40 years, its next oldest sibling, "888" is only 13 years old. The "877" prefix came about 11 years ago, while the youngest "866" has only been in use for 9 years.

Does the longer legacy of the "800" prefix result in higher conversions when tested against the newer toll-free prefixes?

We utilized our call tracking software to create a test that would determine if the use of various toll-free prefixes produced different conversion rates. We wanted to measure the impact the different prefixes had on both call-in conversions and online conversions.

Our sample included 18,100 visits to one lead generation site. All visits were from paid search ads in Google and resulted in 2,614 combined call-in and online conversions. The visits were split evenly among 4 distinct landing pages, each page displaying a different toll free number. Other than the different phone numbers, the landing pages were identical. All visits were recorded during the 1st quarter of 2009.

Chart A shows conversion rates for call-in leads by prefix. Interestingly, our highest conversion rate corresponds to the oldest prefix (800) and the lowest conversion rate corresponds to the youngest prefix (866). Thus, the age of the prefix appears to directly impact the call-in conversion rate. The longer the prefix has existed, the higher its conversion rate. The magnitude of the difference between the best performing "800" prefix and worst performing "866" prefixes is 1.64 percentage points. This means that the "800" prefix had a 59.8% higher call-in conversion rate than the identical page with an "866" phone number.


Can different toll-free prefixes impact the online (form fills) conversion rate? As expected, while the results on call-in conversions were significant, the impact on online conversions (form fills) was somewhat less than conclusive as seen in Chart B.


The toll-free prefix that accompanied the page yielding the highest online conversion rate was "888", followed closely by "866". The "800" and "877" prefixes converted almost identically for online conversions. The spread between the highest and lowest conversion rates was .76 percentage points, less than half that of the difference in call-in conversion rates. Notice how these conversion rate results were almost opposite that of call-in conversions.

Chart C shows the results of our test on with the combined conversion rates. Notice now that the "888" and "800" prefixes convert at almost the same rate followed by the "877" and then the "866" prefixes.


If we place the same value to a call-in lead as an online lead, we can see in Chart D the projected revenues from the four prefixes. For the purposes of this exercise, we assumed that the value of a lead is $100.


Based on our observed combined conversion rates, the page with the "888" prefix would generate the most revenue.

In some instances, though, companies might place a higher value from a call-in lead. Sometimes call-in leads come from more highly motivated prospects, or prospects with a greater sense of urgency. If we were to value a call-in lead at twice (average order value of $200) that of an online lead (average order value of $100), the results become more striking.

The page with the "888" prefix clearly brings in the most revenue indicative of the strong call-in conversion rate for that prefix. In fact, the "888" prefix would generate 19.5% more revenue than the page with the"866" prefix.

Based on our study, the greater the difference between the average order value of the prefixes, the greater the impact expected on revenue generated.

Here are two important take-aways from our study:

  1. As part of your landing page testing and optimization, you should perform a similar test to see if there are opportunities to increase your conversion rates. Call tracking software makes this an easy and inexpensive test.
  2. Understand the values of both your call-in and online conversions and factor that into your results. For ecommerce companies, a call-in sale gives the opportunity for an upsell, potentially increasing the average order value of call-in leads. Lead generation companies may also benefit more from call-in leads by being able to capture the prospect when the prospect is most interested and motivated to discuss their needs.

SEO vs. PPC - The Final Round

One of the most common questions I get is "Is pay-per-click really worth the money?"

For the final answer to this, we turned to Engine Ready, a San Diego based company that specializes in search engine market research.

The results: Well I won't spoil the read, but let's just say it's definitely worth your while to look it over. And if you're crunched for time, you can fast-forward to the last page and get the bottom line.

Quickly view formatted PDFs in your Google search results

Massive Phishing Attack Steals Millions of Passwords

It seems as if the massive phishing campaign reported yesterday was not specific to Hotmail, as was initially believed. According to a report by the BBC, many Gmail and Yahoo Mail accounts have also been compromised. Earthlink, Comcast, and AOL were also affected. While the source of the latest attacks has not been determined, many are pointing to the same bug that claimed at least 10,000 passwords from Microsoft Windows Live Hotmail.

Microsoft has done their part in blocking all known hijacked Hotmail accounts and created tools to help users who had lost control of their email. An analysis of the data from Hotmail showed the most common password among the compromised accounts to be '12345.' On their end, Google responded to the attacks by forcing password resets on the affected accounts.

Why women rule social networking

The jury is still out on exactly why, but facts are facts.

One might conclude that women simply resort to more virtual contact because their real world physical everyday life leaves them rather more dissatisfied than it does men.

Might misery be driving women to MySpace?

Tracking Offline Marketing through Google Analytics

Ever advertise on a billboard and wonder what return you got on your investment? How about your Yellowpages ad?

This little known trick with Analytics can easily track any offline advertisement's exact return on your investment. You can also apply this to tracking return on an email sequence, or split testing an email sequence against another for best ROI.

From the video, here is the HTML template I promised:. You'll need to remove the trackable link here that we created in the video and replace it with your own, save it as index.htm, and upload it into a new folder on your website (such as 'offer').


Visit our website for more free video tips and information about profiting from local online advertising:

Extracting Exact Keywords Searched from Google Adwords & Analytics

Suppose you are bidding on broad match tooth implant in your Adwords account. What you may not know is Google is selling you traffic from "how long should I want to do an implant after a tooth is extracted" to "how does a tooth implant work?". Your Analytics report is giving you bad information! It will ONLY show you the term you are bidding on, in this case, tooth implant.

Using this process, you can extract the exact phrase your visitor searched for and include it in your Analytics report.

Referencing the video, here is the text for you to copy/paste into your Analytics filters.

Filter 1: Field A -> Extract A: Referral: (\?|&)(q|p|query)=([^&]*)
Field B -> Extract B: Campaign Medium: (cpc|ppc)
Output To -> Constructor: Custom Field 1: $A3

Filter 2:Field A -> Extract A: Custom Field 1: (.*)
Field B -> Extract B: Campaign Term: (.*)
Output To -> Constructor: Campaign Term: $B1 ($A1)

Make sure the sequence is correct or it will not work!!

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