Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

How to Properly Use 3rd Party Web Services

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Today I got an email marketing message from Fido, my cellphone provider.


Unfortunately, Fido used a third party email and contest manager that makes me unsure if the email is real or a scam.

The email “from” line looks good:

But it’s trivial to fake a “from” line.

The email “reply-to”: fido.communication(xxxxxx)

I removed the x’s which I suspect are unique to my email address and used for mail list management.  It doesn’t really matter.  Is this address confidence inspiring to the non-technical user? Nope.

Worse, the email is about a contest.  In the email there is a link to enter the contest:

What is  And why should I enter my phone and other info into a website that doesn’t even spell conversation properly? (That’s a joke, I realize it’s a cute mispelling used for a website name).  Sure, there are Fido logos in the email and on the web page.  But who knows?  I’ve seen fake bank websites that also look authentic.  It’s easy to copy logos and verbage.

In the end, I decided to skip this contest.  Who knows if it’s a real contest or not.  Besides, I never win prizes anyway.

What should companies do?  Use their own domain for everything because they’re much harder to use fraudulently.  If they choose to outsource bulk email, use a provider that can use “” for their messages.  For contests?  “”.  For surveys, “”.

In fact, that’s exactly what we offer with the custom survey domain feature of  We have several clients who host surveys using a subdomain of their primary domain.

It works for everyone.  The end survey respondents are confident that the survey is legitimately from our customer.  Our customers are happy that their survey respondents are confident, and thus willing to answer the survey.  And we’re happy to have paying customers.

So there you go.  A rant and an advertisment for one of our websites all rolled into one.  Not bad for a Friday afternoon.

Hurrah! Yahoo Search Marketing Pricing Changes

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

I received an interesting, possibly exciting and expensive email from YSM today. Apparently, the minimum bid of $0.10 will be disappearing on many terms in the future.  Here’s a snippet from the email:

Pricing Update:
Minimum Bids will no Longer be Fixed at $.10

Starting in the next several weeks, the minimum bids for a number of Sponsored Search keywords will no longer be fixed at $.10. Your new minimum bids can be lower or higher than $.10. Content Match minimum bids currently will remain at $.10.

I wrote in a previous post about advertising pricing that Perceptus would spend several times more on advertising if the $0.1 minimum bid was reduced or dropped.  Well, true to my word, I’m logging into our Yahoo Search Marketing account right now to clean up our advertising spots in anticipation of the pricing changes.

There are a couple ways to interpret this change, here are a few of my theories:

  1. this was an inevitable evolution of Yahoo’s advertising service that they’ve finally gotten around to implementing
  2. advertisers are pulling out of the online advertising market or reducing bids due to economic conditions
  3. Yahoo was loosing certain segments to Google due to lower costs per click
  4. Yahoo wants to boost account counts to ward off the Microsoft bid
  5. Yahoo read our blog and decided that Perceptus was right, and that $0.1 clicks don’t make sense in all cases

These are purely random guesses on my part. While I wish it was point 5, I think it’s a  combination of items 1-4.

Having said that, over the last month, our Google AdSense revenues are down and our AdWords costs are down noticeably. I wonder if online advertising is more sensitive to the economy than other advertising media.  I can turn off pay per click advertising campaigns in 5 minutes.  How many weeks does it take to reduce or cancel TV, radio, and newspaper advertising?  Anyway, those ponderings belong on our non-existent financial blog.

Google AdWords Tricks for Canadians, episode 1.

Friday, February 8th, 2008

IMHO, Canadian businesses are at a disadvantage compared to Americans. It’s the little things that complicate life, especially for small firms that don’t have the time or resources to properly deal with it.

Today, I discovered a new trap for Canadians who advertise on Google AdWords to Americans like we do.  We advertise heavily outside of Canada, especially for since the vast vast majority of it’s customers are from outside of Canada*.

The hidden trap? Competitors who don’t buy ad placements for Canadians searching on Google. Let me clarify.

Like every good marketer, I check my ad placements for a key search terms. Google is smart and knows that I’m searching from Canada. So it only shows me ads for businesses (i.e. competitors) that have explicitly enabled their campaigns to play in Canada. Many American firms won’t do this, so I never see their ads.

Long story short, I just realized that when people in America (and elsewhere) search Google for terms that we bid on, our advertising placement is lower than what I see when I make the search!

To test this, find a way to browse the web from an American IP address. I used a (private) proxy server. If you’re not that technically inclined? Ask an American friend. Or maybe find a free proxy based in the US? Or maybe hire us, Perceptus Solutions Inc., for a consult.

So, watch out Canadians. If you’re not checking, your web advertising placements in the USA might not be what you think they are!

Someday I’ll blog about a few other Canadian issues we’ve had, especially how we reduced our currency exchange fees last year. Hint: Google gives really fair exchange rates.

* Yay! I guess we’re an “exporter”!

Google AdWords vs. Yahoo Search Marketing, a perspective from the low-end.

Monday, February 4th, 2008

I decided to split up my previous blog post to pull out the pricing thoughts from the point of view of us, Perceptus Solutions Inc., who’s primary online advertising campaigns are for We sell Premium access to our web based bingo card generator for $10. At that low cost, we have to be careful with what we bid on for search engine advertising clicks.

Technically, we have ad campaigns for on Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and Microsoft AdCenter. I say technically, because we spend about 20 times more with Google than we spend on YSM (formerly Overture) and Microsoft AdCenter combined.

If you search on Google for various bingo card terms such as “bingo cards”, “print bingo cards”, “bingo sheets”, and about a hundred other terms you will probably see a Google AdWords ad for Don’t click on it, it’ll cost us a nickel. :)

Yahoo Search Marketing has a minimum bid on any search term of $0.10. At 10 cents per click, it is debatable whether or not there is a positive return on investment. Thus we are highly selective with the terms we bid on. Because of this, we pay very little to Yahoo every month, in exchange for very few visitors.

On the other hand, Google has no minimum bid, and we can thus bid on a lot of terms that we don’t bid on on other networks. We pay for hundreds of clicks every day on Google and we definitely get a return on investment on those clicks.

To YSM and Microsoft: not every search term is worth $0.1 a click. We would literally spend 20 times as much on advertising with YSM if the minimum bid was closer to $.05.

Yahoo Search Marketing Earns My First Blog Rant

Monday, February 4th, 2008

This isn’t a finance blog. However, coincidentally, I happen to be going over Perceptus’ online advertising campaigns today and I’ve just had an insultingly annoying experience with Yahoo Search Marketing. So, here is my two cents on the advertising network that on which Microsoft is bidding (along with the rest of Yahoo!).

Edit: I decided to split the post in half. The rant about the poor user experience with YSM is here. The search click pricing is in the next post.

Why this post today? I forgot the YSM password. That’s correct, we care so little about our YSM campaign that I haven’t logged on in months and I can’t recall the password.

Anyway, no password? No problem, right? Not so!

I Googled for the right address to log in to my advertising account. I searched for Overture (an advertising middle-man company Yahoo bought a few years ago) .

That takes you here:

Click login to go here: Note how somehow a link has pushed me to a different domain,

Try my username that I have on file. It’s not recognized. Try the request a new password option.  Nope, it doesn’t recognize my username*.

It appears that there is no way to request a new password if you only know the email address that was used! You must enter both your username and email address to request a new password. Fortunately, I do have the username and email address, at least I thought I did.

At some point, I even managed to browse to a page that FireFox noticed that there was an expired SSL key error.  Not reassuring from a $40B company.

This was getting frustrating.

So, I go back to Google to try again from square one. This time I’ll search for Yahoo Search Marketing. This time I get to here:

On this page, my username and email are recognized. Though, I still had to request a new password, but that also worked fine.

The moral of this blog post is that if you are going to change your website, make it utterly clear to the stupidest person, like me, where the current normal login page can be found. Putting a relevant hint on the login failure message would be useful too if I’m trying to log into the wrong @!#$@#% website.

* as an aside, Google uses an email address for logins.  People rarely forget their email address, even their old ones. We like that, so for all new sites we develop, starting with, we only use email addresses for user account names.