Friday, April 29, 2011

Google Adwords Makes Great Post-Modern Haikus

Anyone who’s written ads for Google Adwords will know what I’m talking about when I say this, but writing these things is like creating bizarre, post-modern haikus.

The format is simple: Three lines. Title, description, description. The lines have character limits of 25, 35, and 35 respectively. The idea is to convey a deep, spiritual experience for Google users as they search the web for anything and everything.

At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re for. I never click on them myself.

So let’s look into some of these ad haikus! We’ll start with a web search for something basic: “Free stuff.” Immediately, we’re greeted with this classic poem of grand exuberance:

How I Get Free Groceries
Thanks to this website, I never
have to pay for groceries again.

After searching for merely “divorce,” we’re treated to this tale of unrequited affection:

Stop Your Divorce
Find out how to stop your divorce
or lover's rejection. Official Site

“Lonely” returns an equally passionate account of the quest for adulation:

Sexy Baltic Ladies
Pretty women from Baltic countries
are looking for true love

And finally, who knew that the decidedly unsexy search of “pest control” would yield such beautiful results:

Raccoon Removal & Control
Effective, Immediate, Long Lasting,
Raccoon Control Techniques.

So as you can see, writing these ads requires a little bit of talent; you must choose the best words, and the flow of your text could mean the difference between someone not clicking on your ad, and someone accidentally clicking on your ad while reading it.

Feel free to submit your favorite ad haiku!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Kindle You Not, Here's Some Advertisements

Amazon’s Kindle was a groundbreaker when it was released. Reading books on a screen that’s large and easy on the eyes without having to carry around a big hunk of wood became a possibility.

However, it was only a matter of time before they broke ground on advertising, too. Now you can pay for your Kindle and enjoy advertisements anyway, like this full-page ad for Visa that collapses down into a banner ad along the bottom of the screen.

At least these ads are in the book browser; let’s just hope that these ads stay out of the books themselves. Yes, magazines have long held an amazing amount of advertisements—generally every other page—but they’re also paying for paper, ink, and shipping. Your subscription or purchase price pays the staff and the office’s utility bills, and the ads pay for the physical product. Book costs, however, mostly go to the materials, and not so much to the author, editor, and publishing house staff, so there's not much need to recover funds within them with ads. That's why you never see ads inside of a paperback novel.

I can't blame Amazon for trying to fit in unobtrusive advertisements where they can. Jeff Bezos is a marketing genius, and I generally support his methodology. If this helps keep the price of the Kindle down, I say go for it, especially if it means that more of them can be donated to schools and other causes.

However, if your e-books start carrying ads that blink on the screen while you’re trying to concentrate on the story, you might just consider going back to the old-fashioned pre-1984 lug-around edition of your favorite novel.

The Future of Social Media is Basically Simple.

Say goodbye to the days of company/product names with a dropped “e” in the suffix. There (hopefully) won’t be any more names like Tumblr, Flickr, or Blippr in the near future. That's because the new trend involves naming things after extremely basic concepts instead.

One can only assume that the use of those intentionally misspelled names over the past couple of years was to help secure more unique and accurate search results; after all, a search for “flicker” on Google reveals 35.5 million results. They might have considered using an alternate spelling because whoever owns would be sitting on a goldmine, waiting for the company to purchase it, and the company didn't want to waste the money.

But wait— redirects to, and the first two of those 35.5 million results are, so that can’t be the reason for the dropped "e." What’s going on here?

It turns out that those misspellings were merely hipster-friendly—or should I say “hipstr-friendly.” (As a side note, visiting shows that the domain is for sale, waiting for a hip new social tool to jump on it.)

Sorry,, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s going to be buying your domain anytime soon.

Nope, to make it in the 2011 social media world you need to pick the most basic term you can think of and model your entire business on top of it. For example, Square is a new credit card-swiping device that plugs into the headphone jack of an iPhone. Basic enough for you?

Now you might think that doing a search for the term “square” would lead you to millions of the vague destinations that the 1 billion Google results provide, but the company’s SEO is so fantastic that they’ve secured the very first result. They even beat out the Wikipedia article for the geometric concept itself, though they had to buy instead of (which is owned by Japanese video game company Square Enix, who are surprisingly NOT forwarding hits to their official domain.)

Another example is the mobile photo-sharing app Color (proud purchaser of for $50,000) in which users within a certain area anonymously provide each other with pictures taken in the immediate vicinity. No doubt purchasing this domain pushed their search result rankings through the roof, but I suspect some spectacular SEO optimization is in play here as well.

Even AOL jumped into this trend with their mobile music-sharing app called Play, though at 2 billion Google search results, the app not appearing in the first five pages of those results, and the eponymous domain owned by a UK media distribution company, this simple name might be a bit less successful than the others.

Why the basic names? A bit of Internet feng shui, I assume. We’ve gotten sick of this hipstery crap where we drop letters; in fact, dropped e’s are the new CamelCase. It's fresher than numbers-as-letters. You’ll notice we don’t share our photos on Nope, that one's netsquatted by AT&T, ultimately sending you to the Yellow Pages.

So if you want to fit in and see your app purchased by Yahoo for $25 million, you'll need a basic name. Just think of the most basic concept you can come up with, and then dumb it down into an even more basic idea. As part of my public service, I’ll provide some ideas now:
  • Letter: A nano-blog service
  • Look: A photo-sharing app with eye tracking that shows a new photo each time you look at it
  • Move: Location-tracking app that you actually intentionally sign up for
  • Path: Similar to Move, but encourages others to follow you—physically
  • One: Movie/Music/etc. critique website where reviews consist of a single word
  • On: WiFi device that tells you if you left certain appliances running and can start your car via your Letter nano-blog
  • Space: App that lives in the cloud. Do you really need to know more to decide whether or not to invest?
Those should provide you with enough anonymity that you’ll need to invest hundreds of man-hours in SEO and publicity, but once that ball gets rolling and people throw you in with Color and Square, it’s only a matter of time before AOL wants to merge with you. Good luck on your IPO!

UPDATE: There's actually a new photo sharing called Path. Can you believe it?

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Just One More Reason to Not Use GoDaddy

The web hosting and domain registration giant has been around for almost fifteen years, demonstrating both industry influence and staying power. Since 1997, GoDaddy has been headed by the same person: Bob Parsons. In an industry where the CEO turnover rate is shorter than most presidential terms, some might term this remarkable.

Perhaps it’s that singular vision provided by the founder that has made the company so successful. Managing more than 45 million domain names, the company dwarfs other registrars with its market share, controlling over a quarter of the market.

Customers love the company’s unconventional and sometimes irreverent attitude, employing IndyCar driver Danica Patrick and T.V. trainer Jillian Michaels, among others, as “GoDaddy Girls.” In fact, it’s not uncommon for bizarre, random, and sometimes slightly inappropriate humor to appear on their website.

Now many—most notably the animal rights group PETA—are disturbed by the CEO’s most recent controversy. A video featuring Parsons hunting elephants in Zimbabwe was released, in which the corporate heavyweight tracks, shoots, and poses next to an elephant in the poor and sometimes famine-stricken country.

What would you do if you had all the money in the world? It’s not uncommon for extremely wealthy individuals to pursue rare hobbies out of the reach of the common man. I actually expect this kind of behavior from people of his caliber. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s part of an underground group of elite moneymakers who gather to dine on endangered animals regularly.

Parsons defends his actions, in typical spin-it CEO style, by carefully explaining a real tear-jerker: These elephants, majestic and awesome as they may be, are careless brutes who don’t understand boundaries, tearing through local villagers’ fields and trampling their crops, significantly reducing the available food for the already poor Zimbabweans. He’s doing them a service. It’s charity, really.

Not only is this dead elephant no longer destroying crops, it’s also readily providing meat for the villagers as well. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!

Except, of course, the elephant—and GoDaddy.

Parsons’ body language suggests a giddy hobbyist, excited about his kill. Clearly, he didn’t pose with his elbow propped up on the elephant’s lifeless torso, grinning like a maniac, because he felt the self-satisfaction of charitable actions toward a lessthan-fortunate community. And yet, when the video leaked, and the accusations and boycott-talk began, this is exactly the defense he provided.

He has a good point, though. Elephants trampling crops is a serious problem in this part of the world. The common theme in this area is that a living elephant means human starvation, while a dead elephant means plenty of available food. If you were starving, which would you choose?

The problem is that it’s highly unethical to kill all the elephants, which would need to happen to completely stop the problem with this method. Furthermore, this is the elephant’s natural habitat, which humans are also living in. The two should probably learn cohabitation. They’ve survived this long; maybe they should consider having less people? Birth control maybe?

Bob Parsons is a legitimately successful businessman who deserves the right to spend his hard-earned money in whatever manner he likes. I can’t fault him for that. But if the real reason for his actions is to protect the food supply of local villagers, then why did he spend so much money to fly over there and hunt down elephants? Couldn’t he have donated money for a gun and bullets to someone already there?

There is a certain amount of skill involved in killing an elephant. They’re massive creatures who are not downed easily. By Parsons’ own admission, this was his fifth elephant kill, and not on this trip alone. Obviously, he likes killing elephants!

This is nothing new. Big game hunters have been around forever, hunting lions and other creatures considered relatively rare. It’s a bit of a taboo subject, but it happens. There’s no denying that. But in many cases these creatures are considered immediately dangerous to life. Think jaguars that literally stalk humans in the woods and leap out of the darkness to stab their sharp teeth into the necks of their poor victims.

The elephants don’t know what they’re doing. They’re not acting out of spite, or even survival. They’re just walking where they shouldn’t. Could money be spent to divert the elephants’ paths? Possibly. Did Parsons look into this as an option? No. He obviously likes killing elephants!

Would we feel the same way about his actions if we were talking about him shooting deer in the woods in the United States? Probably not, and those deer don’t even trample our crops. So what’s the big deal?

My issue with this is that he’s lying. He should admit the enjoyment he gets out of killing elephants. He is spinning his controversial hobby as charitable work. Thanks, CEO of an American company, for solving our problem manually with a shotgun!

I usually run far, far away from any subject that PETA touches, and I’m not going to back their suggestion that consumers boycott his company. There are hundreds of other reasons to avoid their terrible service like the plague, anyway.

But if you feel the slime oozing out of his statements on this subject, it’s just another reason to not use GoDaddy.