Google announcedAdPlanner, a tool to help ad agencies find where desired demographic audiences are active online. The WSJ highlighted how the new Google tool can help make the ad marketplace more efficient:
The Web-audience data could be combined with the ad-serving system, so that advertisers would be able to find out whether they would reach the right audience before they committed to placing an ad.
In addition to AdPlanner, Google will launch another tool that compares consumer response to ads against a control group of users who did not see the ad:
Separately, Google this week is expected to roll out a new tool aimed at showing how Web surfers respond to online ads. It will compare groups of people who are exposed to an ad with others who haven't seen it, taking into account such factors as search activity and site visitation.
Our CMS only shows 300 comments per page. I am sure there is a way to enhance that, but for ease of publishing and following the conversations I decided to close the last SEO for Firefox thread and start a new one. If you have any questions about SEO for Firefox this is the place to ask them. :)
Summize is a conversational search engine which allows you to search Twitter in realtime. Useful for finding customer feedback even when people do not provide it directly to you. For example, I just found out that for some people the Rank Checker Firefox extension stopped working after the last update. So I just reverted the extension and am awaiting another update from the developer. Summize offers RSS feeds so you can track conversations mentioning your brands and/or important topics.
The Rank Checker developer told me he just completed our first major update on the extension. From his email...
added international character support
fixed query time saving error in options window
added status icon (right click on the icon to see the whole menu)
fixed linux issues
changed doubleclick behavior (if you want to go to SE results on windows, hold CTRL key and click on the url; on mac hold META key and click on the url), because double click causes some errors on mac os.
Want to check your rankings on Google.com, international Google search results, Yahoo, and Microsoft? Try Rank Checker, our free Firefox extension which tracks your rankings, and allows you to automatically check ranking changes over time.
If you have any questions please watch this video.
The tool has issues with special international characters, but we are trying to get that fixed ASAP. Have any other feedback? Please leave it in the comments below.
If you like it/find it useful, please show some love via a blog mention and on del.icio.us if you can. :)
[Update: to verify your rankings on a search engine you can scroll over the rank number, hold down control, and then click on the ranking.]
Some tools exist because they are valuable and remove market friction. Others exist because they are perceived as being valuable, even if they are actually value destroying, or only valuable in rare circumstances.
Valuable Tools of the Trade
Outside of paying for a domain name, hosting, site design, and buying a few links you could create (an ad supported) business online virtually free.
Blogs are easy to post to, easy to subscribe to, and easy to comment and interact with. Keyword tools and analytics services are easy to view and infer ideas and trends from. Searchable email saves time. Google Alerts and feed readers save time and keep you connected with your industry. Many of these tools are free, in spite of offering great value.
Negative Value Software
But there is another class of software that exists long after it is useful or profitable to use, or long before you would need to consider such a solution. Are you still paying for monthly submissions to the search engines? Not all of the solutions are outright fraud though (like monthly search engine submission services are). Even some of the good intentioned tools can still hurt you.
A friend of mine is nervous about launching their first linkbait, and wanted to use this enhanced email software to help automate finding the right people to contact. But until you get some experience in the marketplace you might be paying for value destroying software that hurts your brand.
One software program my friend bought crashed his computer.
Another was bought through Plimus. It was purchased, and simply never came...pretty bad after about a half dozen emails and a few phone calls. How hard is it to send an unlock code?
One of my friends got his account banned by an ISP the first day, when he accidentally misused one such software program. One minute he was doing research, and then he clicked to the next step to refine it, and accidentally ended up sending out about 150 emails in under a minute. Ooooops.
And none of those situations even take into account brand value and risks of a reputation management issue arising.
Automated Bid Management Software
A customer of mine recently asked about what bid management software program made sense to use, as he was new to PPC and wanted to do it right from the start. But if you are new to the game I think you first need to do it by hand so you can understand how it works. If you use bid management software that is optimizing for the wrong things you may end up blowing through a lot of money. It is much harder to learn the ad network + the management tool at the same time rather than learning them one at a time, and in many cases human intuition works better than machines do.
There are a lot of ways to get caught up in the complexities of money saving tools and ideas to where you never do anything. You can't teach a software program, machine, or employee how to do marketing until after you have done it yourself.
Other Backwards Solutions
Have you seen people pay to be able to resell some sleazy MLM company's junk on a 100% duplicate content subdomain off of the corporate site?
Have you seen people pay for hosting and CMS services that are far worse than they can get for free from other providers or the open source community?
Have you seen people using expensive keyword density analysis software this year?
What causes people to buy into such stuff - laziness? lack of research? greed?
What (does/doesn't) Work Well for You?
What tools made your marketing easier? Which ones set you back?
What works well in 2008? What is a waste of time? Twitter? FriendFeed?
Wordtracker's API is much more reliable than scraping data from Overture
the Overture tool seems like it has been down more often than it has been up recently
I primarily focus on the US market and did not realize how popular the international aspects of the old keyword research tool were until I started getting a rash of email complaints after taking the tool down.
So I put the old keyword tool back up, renamed it the international keyword suggestion tool, and defaulted it to using UK values (while still allowing users to grab data from other regional markets). I also zipped it up here, so anyone can install it on their site, and set it to a different default language if they like.