Internet and magazines defy US ad slump

Ad spending by medium, 2007 Q1

Ad spending across all media in the United States declined 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year, according to estimates compiled by TNS Media Intelligence.

Spending on television, newspapers and radio was down, but more advertising dollars went to magazines and to the internet. Online spending recorded the largest percentage change of any medium.

TNS MI estimated that internet display advertising soared 16.7% to US$2.7 billion during the first quarter of 2007, and that estimate is likely conservative as TNS MI does not currently track online search ad spending.

Six of the top ten US advertisers spent less than a year ago, with General Motors slashing its ad budget by more than 30 per cent. Other major firms to reduce advertising were Procter & Gamble, AT&T, Time Warner, Walt Disney, and Johnson & Johnson.

DaimlerChrysler increased its ad spending by more than 12 per cent, and there were smaller increases at Ford, Verizon, and Sprint Nextel.

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Massive staff cuts at web publisher Geosign

As many as 100 of the 215 employees at Guelph, Ontario-based niche web publisher Geosign have lost their jobs.

The story seems to be that the company, which less than two months ago captured $160 million in private funding, was caught in Google’s crackdown on AdWords arbitrage.

[Click that link above for a video explanation of AdWords arbitrage, using some Geosign sites as examples.]

Geosign runs 180 consumer-targeted sites, including, and

Geosign isn’t saying much, and has posted no information about the layoffs on its website. Nor can I find anything about this on the Globe & Mail or Toronto Star sites, even though the layoff notices apparently went out four days ago.

But comments posted online by people identifying themselves as workers laid off by Geosign suggest the layoffs affect anywhere from 38 to 100 staff.

More from Dave Forde at Profectio and at

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Optimizing baby’s name

Selecting a baby’s name was seldom easy. You had to please the parents, and the grandparents, and make sure it wasn’t going to be an invitation to playground taunts.

But nowadays savvy parents also have to be sure their child’s name is search-engine optimized.

The Wall Street Journal looks at the occurrence [I’m not sure we can call it a trend yet] of parents-to-be selecting a name for their child that will appear high in search engine rankings.

It’s essential for these parents to find a name that is uncommon, otherwise their child may be on page 89 of results for “Britney Jones” or “Jason Smith”. That’s virtually unsearchable, which is only a step away from non-existent.

According to the WSJ:

US internet users conduct hundreds of millions of search queries daily. About 7% of all searches are for a person’s name, estimates search engine More than 80% of executive recruiters said they routinely use search engines to learn more about candidates, according to a recent survey by executive networking firm ExecuNet. Nearly 40% of individuals have used search engines to look up friends or acquaintances with whom they’d lost touch, according to a Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Microsoft Corp.’s MSN unit.

But what if the parents cannot find, or agree on, a search-friendly name? That’s when it’s time for Search Engine Marketing. Just make sure you bid high on the keywords for your child’s name. It’s a small price to pay for the kind of visibility that could help your kid succeed.

David Berkowitz at Search Insider goes even further, with some excellent marketing ideas. Here are just a few:

Write a press release the day your baby’s born with the baby’s name in the headline, and optimize the entire release. As soon as the little one takes its first breath, he or she can even appear in the body of Google’s natural search results thanks to universal search.

Buy all potential domain name misspellings of your baby’s name. If you’re blessed with ample foresight or come from an ages-old tradition of arranged marriages, buy versions of the last name of any potential suitor you have in mind. Redirect the names to your baby’s main dot-com domain.

Googlebomb your baby’s domain around the phrase “world’s cutest baby,” “future Nobel laureate,” or “Harvard class of 2025.”

While Berkowitz claims his advice is tongue-in-cheek, he also says some of his ideas would work just as well for, say, your business, as for your baby.

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A strange beast of a blog

14 June 2014: The blog referenced in this post,, appears to no longer exist.

10 Oct 2006: Sarah McDonald in the NBR reported on this today, and the Internet Bureau’s response will be in the NBR next week.


There’s a new “blog” in town. And while I ought to be delighted to see people prepared to debate online advertising models – and to do so online, in public – this blog seems a strange beast.

New Zealand Online Media attempts to blogify a position paper produced by executives from five advertising agencies. It is a blog in name only, containing only one posting, undated, that reads like a pitch. It’s a sort of blog-by-committee with the five authors’ names and email addresses noted in the sidebar. There’s even a posting headed “summary” – which is probably the last thing you’ll ever see on a genuine blog!

At least the authors are clear about their objectives, signalled in the site’s subtitle: “What’s wrong with New Zealand’s online media industry?”

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