July 25, 2014

Google v. Microsoft – WWW War Brewing

Let’s play a game. I say a word and you say the first 3 things that comes to mind:

Word: Monopoly

Board game. Microsoft. Google.


Does it surprise you that I thought of Google? It shouldn’t. Google has such a dominant position in online search that the Department of Justice has looked them over more than once. Monopolies are the utopia of greed. Every company is trying to get one (theoretically), yet the two companies which you could argue actually have monopolies are preparing to go to war with each other. Why?

You Can Never Have Enough Success

Winning is one of the most powerful drugs in the world. Google won search. Microsoft won operating systems. These victories have given each company a seemingly endless supply of money and resources to pursue anything they want and they have set their sights on each other.

Bing.com

Microsoft has been trying to get a foot in the door of search for a very long time. No mystery there. Between MSN.com, Live.com and their cashback program (straight bribery) Microsoft has shoveled millions into this fight already only to be swatted like a pesky gnat. However, Bing.com is a much more credible threat to Google. People like the design, the results are actually quite good (while being different from Google’s results), and they’ve done some things better than Google (try the image search). The latest numbers show that Bing.com has carved out some market share and with Microsoft pumping $100 million into advertising, this is the first shot Microsoft has fired that may elicit a response from the GOOG.

Google’s Chrome OS

When Google launched their Chrome browser I thought it was a novel idea to create a browser that ran Javascript really fast. Basically they designed a browser optimized for Gmail and all the other Google products. When they announced the Android phone I thought is was a good move to try getting into the mobile market since people will use the mobile web more and more, where Google could do well by replacing bulky desktop software (cough, Office, cough) with their web apps. Both plays were small moves. Then Google dropped the bomb and said they were going to turn Chrome into an OS. Mark your calendar, this was Google’s declaration of war.

What Will Happen?

Let me know what you think.

Why the Microsoft Zune Just Will Not Die!

Disclaimer: I am extremely anti-iPod (really it’s more anti-iTunes because of the DRM) and am the proud owner of a 1st gen, brown, Zune 30GB.

Ever since its introduction the Zune has been the subject of ridicule from most of the world because it was made by the ultimately uncool Microsoft. Many viewed the device as another Microsoft attempt to buy their way into a profitable market (mp3 players) and crush everyone in their path. Of course that wasn’t going to work since Apple had already achieved a Windows-like monopoly on the industry, but despite what most would consider a failure slow moving effort Microsoft has continued to update and launch new versions of the device.

Why Won’t Microsoft Just Give Up?

First, Microsoft is extremely well-funded thanks to Windows and their software. Therefore they can shrug off the hits like a heavyweight champ. Second, the Zune is actually a pretty damn good device. Most won’t remember this, but when the original Zune launched, Apple got a case of big-screen envy that really pushed the iPhone/iPod touch development up a notch. Watching video on my 1st gen Zune 30GB is still a very pleasant experience made all the more pleasant thanks to the price tag.

Now for the real reason the Zune won’t die (drumroll please) — the Xbox.

Yes, that’s right, the Xbox. Sony has fallen on its face with the PS3 and while the Wii has sold millions of units (I enjoy playing Wii as much as anyone), for serious gamers and techies, the Xbox is the gaming system of choice. Add in the Xbox Live feature and you have a pretty sweet gaming setup. If you doubt, just check out the recent numbers: 30 million Xbox 360s sold and 20 million Xbox Live subscribers. But how does that save the Zune? Say hello to the Zune HD.

Zune HD

The Zune HD, as described on Yahoo, will include a 3.3 inch OLED touchscreen, output in HD, HD radio receiver, built-in Wi-Fi, full-screen web browser and FULL INTEGRATION WITH XBOX. This isn’t just a sissy product tie-in. Xbox users will be able to stream Xbox Live content right onto their Zune HD. You may as well call it the Xbox handheld because that is effectively what you’ll have. Watch out Apple, the Zune will see your bet and is raising all in.

Take the Microsoft adExcellence Test Free Through May 31st

Microsoft adCenter (their competitor to Google AdWords) is offering free testing on their adExcellence program (the equivalent of being AdWords certified) through May 31st to launch their new company-level accreditation. Companies can achieve this certification when they have 3 employees who pass the test. The test is regularly $50 and took me a little over an hour. When you’re about to take the test use this promotional code – companyadex.

I’ve been a certified adExcellence member since last year, which means I can put up this little image testifying to my accreditation.


I think that is enough horn tooting for today. Good luck on the test.

3 Reasons Yahoo SHOULD Sell Search to Microsoft

Dear Carol Bartz (or your assistant who actually might look at what people are saying about the company),

Congratulations on being named CEO of Yahoo. With the numerous stories published about Yahoo I am grateful that the compulsory CEO head shot features your pleasant smile instead of Jerry’s goofy smile. If not for the reports that you swear like a sailor I could almost visualize you bringing a plate of fresh baked cookies to the boardroom for meetings.

Now I realize that you have a pretty major monkey on your back courtesy of Mr. Yang. Everybody knows that the Microsoft offer last year would have been stealing money, but unfortunately Jerry didn’t take it. Now Microsoft is knocking on the door with a much less attractive deal. However, I believe that selling search is in your best interest, and I’ll give you 3 reasons why:

Why Yahoo Should Sell Search

  1. Improved Interface – Ask any PPC manager handling Google, Yahoo and MSN and they’ll tell you that your interface is the hardest to use.
  2. Desktop Editor – Presuming that you actually want your advertisers to have large accounts that spend lots of money, the Microsoft adCenter Desktop will let those advertisers easily handle large accounts (myself included).
  3. Money – Microsoft is already dumping millions into search to compete. You still have nearly 20% of search and Microsoft will pay dearly to become a legitimate competitor in the space.

So there you have it Carol. Have an intern or assistant pretty that up with a nice slide deck and you’re ready to pitch to the board.

Best Regards,

Robert Brady

PPC Wizard

The Tortoise and The Hare: adCenter vs. AdWords

If asked to describe AdWords as an animal, most would probably call them the 800-pound gorilla. However, yesterday I had the distinct thought that maybe Google is more like the hare from Aesop’s fable and surprisingly, Microsoft may very well be the tortoise.

“Slow and steady wins the race”

Before burning me at the stake for PPC heresy, hear me out. On Monday adCenter released updated tracking code that will fix a long-standing problem; the double-count. Despite the best efforts of PPC marketers and webmasters to place conversion tracking code on pages that can only be seen once, many users are unpredictable and illogical enough to somehow load thank you pages more than once, resulting in duplicate conversions (thus throwing off all your metrics). The new code from adCenter gives you a couple of different options for counting your conversions to give you numbers that aren’t too hot, aren’t too cold, but are just right.

Next I came across a story on TechCrunch about Microsoft PubCenter’s beta results. The beta testers they spoke with were reporting better revenue than AdSense (likely due to Microsoft’s generosity on revenue splits) and that PubCenter gave them more liberty on creative. Add in the fact that the ads were as well targeted as AdSense and you have a legit competitor to AdSense.

Can Microsoft Win?

Microsoft has the money and they are willing to spend it. While slower than AdWords, adCenter has released an off-line ad management tool, improved their tracking code and developed a legit competitor to AdSense. Slow and steady definitely describes Microsoft’s efforts (8% search share?) but can they really win the race?

Microsoft Live Search Is For Real

The world of search is dominated by Google, everyone can agree on that fact. Looking at market share we also see that Yahoo is the clear #2 in the market right now. Bringing up the rear (yes, I’m basically limiting the field to three) we have Microsoft Live Search and up to this point I have consigned MSN to perpetual failure. 

Money, Money, Money!

Microsoft’s previous efforts to gain market share have revolved around, essentially, bribery. The first effort was the creation of Microsoft Live Search Club. The objective of this program was to inflate MSN’s search numbers by creating a bunch of word games that ran a search for every correct answer. The incentive to actually play the games? Prizes! I myself acquired a Zune for 20,000 points. A great idea, but inevitably unable to move the needle.

Attempt #2 was Microsoft Live Search Cashback. This program took bribery to the next level by paying cash to get people to search with MSN. To get the money all you had to do was search for a product on MSN and then buy it through a qualified seller. Lots of companies got on board because Microsoft was footing the bill and pay they did. However, the temporary boost in market share soon faded, seemingly confirming my belief that Microsoft just didn’t have what it takes to compete.

Microsoft Ready to Play With the Big Boys Now!

My change of opinion came at CES 2009. In his keynote address Steve Ballmer came out with the usual stuff about the next Windows (7 or something?) OS and some other software stuff, but then he dropped what I consider the bomb-shell: Microsoft had locked up an exclusive search deal with Verizon, soon to be the largest cell phone carrier in the US. You read correctly, Verizon. The same Verizon that was talking to Google last year. 

This means that Live Search will be the default search option for all internet-enable Verizon phones and Microsoft will be handling mobile ads on Verizon phones. Normally I wouldn’t give a default option so much credit because tech-savvy users just change it. However, internet-capable phones are proliferating at an astounding rate and the tech noobs are starting to buy smart phones when they upgrade. These people will be much less prone to changing the default and will likely just roll with their phone as is. Yes it will cost Microsoft around $600 million in shared ad revenue (that’s just the guaranteed part), but this might be the game changing move in search.

PS Lest I forget, Microsoft also made a deal with Dell to get their toolbar preinstalled on Dell machines. Also a nice move.

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