PayPal Upgrades Payment Solutions

Google is always amazing at timing their news to overshaddow competing services. Google's news of their new payment process system had no specific source and absolutely no useful details, almost as if they just wanted to whip something up to overshaddow another story.

In other, unrelated news:

A name synonymous with e-commerce made a move Friday to cement that status. Online payment service PayPal launched a new tool, which gives merchants the option of allowing consumers to complete credit card transactions on the merchants' own Web sites. The tool will preempt the need, and annoyance, of being redirected to PayPal's own site. The software allows Web sellers to run the checkout procedure as PayPal processes the deal in the background.

Website Payment Pro only costs $20 a month more than regular PayPal payments, and odds are that by ditching the extra screen one would make a few more sales. PayPal could still make a ton of improvements, a couple nice things would be:

  • allow merchants to run an affiliate program through PayPal instead of needing to install their own affiliate software or use a system like PayLoadz.

  • make it easy to download account history from a week or a year ago. make the data accessible as AdWords account data is

I am sure there are other ways to make it better as well, but I am sorta tired :)

How would you improve PayPal? They probably have at least a few months before Google launches their system. You can bet that Google's system will probably interface with their advertising and tracking software as well.

Pretty Cool Speech

Internet Censorship & Blog Registration - The Great Wall of China

China to require forum & blog owner registration. What if censorship was in the routers? Would we still see the ratings?

Need to get a quote from Sergey on this move.

Related: Social Tools as Ripples to Waves of the Future

Web Sales & Advertising

Post about Hugh MacLeod of Gapingvoid

Hugh MacLeod, of GapingVoid fame, & Seth Godin will be at London Marketing Soiree July 11th 2005.

Hugh MacLeod also recently created a podcast which I just listened to.

He described the idealism or assumption of purity associated with blogs to be a guise for the selfish reasons why blogs are created.

Blogging about your industry is a good way to gain status within that industry. He also said launching your first good blog could require similar time and effort to writing your first novel to pay off.

M u s t    K e e p    T y p i n g . . .

speaking of regular jobs:

  • he said most companies do not have your best interests in mind

  • most companies want to squeeze you until there is nothing left (it also happened to me at a rather young age)
  • many people with 20 years experience do not have 20 years experience, but 1 year of experience 20 times over. (Before playing on the web I had two legit full time jobs. I had this feeling twice).

He stated that his blog readership tended to rise as he spoke more about his partnership with English Cut and fell when he just drew cartoons. I bet there were other factors at play, such as crossover traffic from major media coverage. His cartoons are awesome.

Hugh also started a blog about wine. I posted this comment on his blog:

are you worried about spreading your branding too thin? eventually the conversation about conversations about conversations will get thick when many of the conversations have holes in them because you are trying to do too much on limited resources, ie: attention & time.

I also have a bunch of blogs, but most of them are crap because most of my effort goes into this one. How many authentic voices can you have before authenticity means nothing?

Ten Years of Alertbox & Various Ways to Say Marketing

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox celebrates 10 years. An interesting excerpt:

In 1997, I wrote the "Do Websites Have Increasing Returns?" column, discussing the relative value of big and small websites. I predicted that small sites would generate 75% of the Web's total value because they can be more targeted than big sites. ...

Most current discussions of the long tail underestimate the non-hits and assume that each point on the curve has the same value. But on the Web, being small means that you can better target your content and thus provide higher value per unit than more generic services.

Jakob also mentions a few of his hits and misses and points out some of his Alertbox articles which he feels deserve far more traffic than they get.

I have a bit of a hard time balancing self worth and ego, but it is interesting to think that hundreds of thousands of people could read your not well received work and still view it as deserving of more attention.

It seems to me that whether a person calls something usability, long tail, conversion marketing, SEO, story telling, brand building, or whatever, the end goal is to create enough value to extract profits while serving customers needs.

Usually most of the tips and information can be generic in nature (ex: track results or increase usability) - or deeply specific using some random vocabulary set (ex: Use location based keyword modifiers and bid for third position on Overture for expensive terms. Daypart your bid prices or ad display times to match the optimal point on the profit elasticity curve.) - because most of these terms and ideas are geared toward creating websites or systems which specifically target the needs of a small group of people. It is easy to fill the needs and desires of a small group of people.

It also makes me wonder if I should broaden or shift some of my interests (and more importantly, the way I market them) to a label other than SEO.

When in the UK I asked a ton of questions about demographics, law enforcement, power generation, social services, transportation, and the like. I find it fascinating to watch how some systems scale. It will be amazing if / when people figure out something that can beat out AdWords. MSN's new product may offer more data, but it may be confusing and just a bit ahead of its time.

eBay Buys, MarketingSherpa Buyer's Guide

eBay buys

Addiction / Selling One's Soul:
Steve has some new competition. Andy Beal launches a blog about blogging.

To be fair, I have numerous rantblogs and the like, but will never run a blog about blogging. The idea seems too reality TV meets blogging for me. Then again, maybe there is a good reality TV show idea there. Oooppppsss, I forgot CNN is already doing that.

Buyer's Guide:
MarketingSherpa launches their newest SEO buying guide. From my perspective smaller SEO companies are typically better than large ones, and reports like these may not give adequate coverage to some of the best SEO companies like WeBuildPages.

Search Engine Political Bias

Left, Right, Or Center? Can A Search Engine Be Biased?

Biased Search Ads:
Ads are going to be inherently biased, as paying for them means that the person buying them aims to use that money to manipulate others to perform a desired task.

From time to time someone will go too far and search engines will say the ad is out of bounds. The process will repeat.

Are Search Results Biased? Working with a Limited Information Pool:
Lets presume that the search engines aimed to be completely unbiased. Search engines can only display information they know about. They can not serve up information that does not exist.

Creating Information:
Information creation is either a labor of love, or must pay for itself.

Ideally it does not happen, but if a site creates profit the business model is going to bias the content.

If information is a labor of love then it is probably going to be highly opinionated - showing the world from a biased perspective.

If you pour yourself into something at a financial loss hopefully you are gaining in other areas, or else why would you create it?

While the best answers are usually somewhere in the middle, it is much more exciting to propose something that is cutting edge or deeply rooted in some ideology.

Linking to Information:
People are more inclined to link into overtly biased information. Whether they like the person:

Some might think ABC is a bit out there, but this is just a briliant idea (link)...

or hate them:

XYZ is a real tool. This moron said "blah blah blah" (link)...

Political and religious related topics are going to come out with a higher ratio of biased to unbiased information. Stories where religion and politics overlap will build heavy linkage data.

In being somewhat biased people get more feedback (potentiall more content), more readers (can make more money from ads and thus can further the content creation, brand, and distribution), and more links (furthering their authority score). Using the results of this type of social network how could search engines be anything but biased?

Credible Sources:
The Wall Street Journal is branded as honest information about business and finance in a capitalistic society, and yet they are reporting bad quarters and shrinking some of their edition sizes to cut costs.

Do the people reporting about money not know how to make any?

Part of the bad quarters may be due to

  • the slugish stock market

  • rapid consolidation of wealth
  • uncertainty
  • trade and federal deficits
  • lack of trust in the market
  • and energy shortages.

They are also losing out due to the web being a faster moving and cheaper distributed advertising network. Another thing that really hurts them - and all unbiased trusted sources - is that I can read exactly what I want to from whatever channels I like. News biased the way I like it.

While news search algorithms can use systems like TrustRank to unbias their news results, you can't fully remove bias from search results.

Most people are not cited or remembered as social significant for being unbiased and centered. The channels (websites) which do not have to ask for citation (links) will usually beat out those that do.

Assorted Links...

Why did Adobe Buy MacroMedia?
all the reasons. no spin.

Algorithms & Patents & Spam, oh My:
Yahoo!'s Concept Network & SuperUnits

Is NickW for Blog Spam?
certainly not, when its done sloppily to one of his blogs ;)

The Wrong Tail:
people are starting to use The Long Tail without purpose. better get that book printed quick.

Yahoo! Buys
a good post from Nacho.

New Blog:
O'Reilly Radar

New Browser:
Opera 8 Launched

Media Futures:
Media Futures, Part 1/5: AUTOMATA

Internet Advertising:
A decade in Online Advertising (PDF) - report by DoubleClick, who may get bought out soon. found on Lee's blog

Wanna Park?
viral marketing at its best: I Park Like an Idiot

Seth & the Real Cost of Sleeze Marketing

I have read Seth Godin's blog consistantly for the past year. I also believe I have read every book that he has wrote in the 5 years. I even went to his office one day to hang out. In the past he has made some comments about SEO which were a bit off mark, but in the end I agree that for most people SEO is not going to be a long term business model. If you really know your stuff well you might be able to get by just doing SEO, but for some people that will eventually get old. Technology will continue to advance. SEO can enhance distribution but if SEO and selling stuff cheap are your longterm brand strategy you could be making more money creating legitimate value for a growing social network which may eventually market your products for you.

Seth is a smart marketer and knows that on the web it is virtually impossible to give away too many good ideas. Stuntdubl just spent a day in Seth's office, and from his post and an IM chat he said it was great.

A few things you really learn when you visit hyper successful people who are still down to Earth:

  • You don't need a suit to do well.

  • Hard work does pay off.
  • More than you realized you probably share a lot in common with that successful person.
  • Being successful does not have to change who you are.
  • Many of the people who are successful in your field may be more successful primarily based on past experience or time in the field.
  • It is more lucrative being yourself then acting a part.

How does this relate to SEO?

1.) SEO Software:

I recently read a book which recommended a decent SEO tool and appoligized for mentioning it due to sleeze sales copy.

I recently tried another SEO tool, which has recurring monthly fees. The tips newsletter immediately offered me a special deal not promoted on the site - some Cory Rudl affiliate links. I even replied to the person to tell them that I thought it was sleeze.

If you are charging me a healthy recurring subscription on a low cost system do you need to sleeze upsell me? Is an extra $4 a month worth me not wanting to recommend your software? Worse yet, the how to manual for the SEO tool had three pages reminding readers how they can become rich reselling the software. Gross.

[disclaimer: within my sites I market my ebook heavily, but as time passes my sales letter will probably become more and more soft sell. My end goal is to be able to have no need to have a sales letter, but that might still be a bit down the road. ]

2.) Consulting & Services:

As a consultant or person working in a related field the best position to be in is to have more leads than you can possibly use. That way you get to chose what hours you work, set your prices, pick your clients, etc.

By not being a hard seller you miss out on some sales, but it also helps to build trust if you don't immediately go for a hard sell. Taking time to review things and build a relationship you are less likely to waste effort trying to sell to a person who is not interested in buying.

I think Jill Whalen has worked rather hard at developing a soft sell system which lets her pick and chose who she wants to work with.

3.) business meetings:

When I go to SES or related conferences many people are like "do you have a business card?", and I never do.

In that situation I look stupid, confident, or both. If you want to remember me that is great, if not I don't want to be another card in the stack.

Sure you want to build relationships over time, but if you give a few hundred people your card you might get a couple leads out of it. I have a huge stack of business cards and know few of the people.

As long as you appoligize for any mistakes you make or any inconvenience you cause someone they will probably think better of you than if everything just went smoothly off the start.

The added effort to get or give someones data without convenient little cards makes it more personal. If you want to remember me I probably do not need a card.

If you don't have cards and chose to meet a few people really well you might be better off as you will likely stick out a bit more than the average card in the stack.

[disclaimer 2: I might be full of crap, but these are my opinions, and I am sharing them. Please let me know what you think of them in the comments below]