2009 the Year of Change for Travel Search Marketing

The economy is forcing travel search marketers to change the way they approach online marketing.

The travel vertical is already one of the most advanced groups of search marketers, but the industry has been under more pressure in recent months to make their campaigns count.

With business travel tanking, leisure travelers looking for deals, shrinking marketing budgets, and tougher competition than ever, the stakes are even higher.

You might think you have a handle on your target keywords, but in this economic environment, what your target travelers are looking for may have changed. Relax, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to change your keyword focus to “cheap hotels,” “discount airfare/cruises,” or “travel deals,” but you may discover new areas of opportunity or searchers looking for value. Package deals, inclusive prices, and special offers may be something you haven’t optimized your content around before.

It’s also difficult to take a risk changing any of your title tags, page names, headings, and so forth if you’re already ranking reasonably well. But you could be leaving some traffic on the table if you aren’t including location data appropriately, or capitalizing on related searches (e.g., “lodging near any National Park/attraction” or “things to do in anytown, USA”). It’s an opportunity to create new pages and internal links targeted at these specific searches.

If successful, you may start experimenting by folding these concepts into your main pages, or just go for it and add to them now. You can always change it back if it doesn’t work.

Industry Expects Growth For Online Marketing

Senior executives at advertising, marketing and interactive firms suggest the economic downturn will create unique opportunities for the industry, especially companies in emerging marketing and media, according to the AdMedia Partners 15th annual survey “Merger and Acquisitions Prospects for Marketing Services and Internet Marketing Firms.”

Respondents believe overall advertising spend will decline 5% this year, but expect 5% growth in interactive advertising, as well as their businesses. Most online categories got the nod, particularly word-of-mouth, social media, search, mobile marketing and behavioral and contextual marketing.

In fact 77% expect word-of-mouth/social media marketing to grow in 2009, compared with 76% for search marketing, 75% for mobile marketing and 70% for behavioral/contextual marketing. Some respondents noted pessimism about display advertising, suggesting “banner ads will become pure commodity.

Search Marketing Spend up 11% in UK

The UK’s search engine marketing spend grew 11% year on year during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a report.

Search spend increased by 14% between the third quarter and fourth quarter of 2008, according to a Search Engine Performance Report.

This reflects the trend for consumers and marketers to increase online activity during the busy Christmas trading period.

Google grew its overall UK market share from 82.6% to 88.2% year on year, largely as a result of its Google Content network which grew by 300% year on year.

The increase in market share by Google was in part at Yahoo!’s expense. Its market share dropped from 13.9% to 8.4% year on year.

Microsoft Live Search was able to maintain its presence in the UK market at 3.4% market share.

The increased level of search spend during Q4 can be in large part attributed to the strength of the online retail channel in price comparison and shopping efficiency, particularly for more established online brands who increased spend to reach revenue goals.

Get ready SEOs – Universal Search in 2009

Get ready SEOs… in 2009, it’s not all about search engine webpage rankings anymore! According to Google, they will officially be launching their Universal Search model in early 2009 to make users’ search experience as simple and straightforward as possible.

So what does that mean for the SEO world? The search game is not all about ranking #1 in the results anymore. Considering that there could be 2 videos, a series of images, and a map of local businesses ABOVE your top (SERP) webpage ranking, it’s time to turn those optimization efforts to new fields.

As Google incorporates Universal Search into its results in 2009, all types of web content will begin to appear on page one – not just web pages. Before you know it, whitepapers, images, news stories, products, and videos will permanently infiltrate search results.

The Pope & Google Join Forces

Pope Benedict XVI can look forward to engaging himself in new age media technology. The Vatican is all set to announce the details of the venture, as Google and the Pope have now come together in order to create a new channel for Pope Benedict XVI, which he will call his own.

This channel will be used for the direct posting of all the texts and videos of the Pope and his speeches as recorded by The Vatican television and radio. The head of the Vatican department of Social Communications, Claudio Maria Celli has organised a news conference referred to as “New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship”, on Friday. The Managing Director of Media Solutions for Google, Henrique de Castro will also be present at the conference to give out more details on the venture of the Pope.

The Vatican has long since entered the world of technological media and been a part of it. In 1995, the late John Paul II worked towards the launch of The Vatican’s own website. This website was powered by three computers that were named after the archangels. Both The Vatican newspaper and radio have their own website, even though some do believe that the internet is a bad influence.

Playboy restructuring print and online content

As part of the restructuring, the company will consolidate its print and online operations in Chicago, keeping a “small editorial and sales presence in New York,” but it expects to sublet its existing office space and move some licensing, editorial and publishing positions to Chicago — a move that is likely to lead to more layoffs.

The company promoted Jimmy Jellinek, previously division senior vice president of digital content, to editorial director of combined print and online content. That appointment was first reported by The New York Post on Thursday. Jellinek, former editor in chief of Maxim, will report to Hugh Hefner and be based in Chicago. Chris Napolitano, former editorial director of the magazine, will now serve as editor at large based in New York, as family obligations have prevented Napolitano from making the move to the Windy City.

Print Media an Endangered Species

Do people read the newspaper anymore? That is the question many newspaper publishers across America are asking themselves on an ever more frequent basis.

According to a recent article published in PRWeek Magazine, the outlook for newspapers is going from bad to worse. Barraged from all sides by online community websites like Craigslist.com which offer free local classifieds, to pay for ad sites such as Autotrader.com which offers ads for new and used cars and Realtor.com which offers over 3 million home listings nationwide, classified ad revenue is quickly drying up for the traditional newspaper.

The numbers are not looking good for the largest players in the industry. At Gannett, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher as measured by total daily circulation, its USA Today advertising pages are down 17% while real estate ads in its community papers are off 20%. News Corp is also feeling the pinch with Dow Jones classifieds down 14% and overall ad revenue has fallen 20%.

Even the most famous paper in the world, the New York Times, has fallen on tough times as earnings per share for parent company New York Times Company have dropped by more than half in the second quarter.

The future does not look any brighter for newspapers as a report by Fitch Ratings states. “As participants gain comfort with online media, they will be less likely to return to the print product in the future.”

To their credit, most major newspapers have created online editions to compliment their traditional print publications, but so far, the newspaper industry has not yet come close to making its rising online ad revenues equal to their falling print ad revenues. As PRWeek put it, if this trend continues, newspapers may end up going the way of the “horse and buggy in the new media Daytona 500.”

President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address

President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PuHGKnboNY&hl=en&fs=1]

Tuesday was truly a historic day. I won’t be trite and opine about what I think it means for the millions of Americans who have suffered discrimination over the years — only they can understand how significant January 20th, 2009 was. But the truth is, it was significant, perhaps one of the most significant days in American history.

Google Guy in Winnipeg

It must be Winnipeg, Manitoba’s best kept secret having a former Google Director here in the city. While company’s struggle with the economic downturn to keep their businesses afloat, others are flourishing with there online presence. While a recession looms, online sales were at a all time high in December in Canada.

According to Forbes magazine, a Page 1 ranking with Google is the holy grail for any business.

So why then isn’t every business in Winnipeg knocking down the doors of the offices of the Google Guy here?

He has made millions of dollars online for companies worldwide, helped governments get elected and made millionaires out of one man band businesses.

What was he thinking setting up a head office in Winnipeg?

I spoke with the Ex Google Guy who sold out in 2004 to the search engine. I asked what he saw in Winnipeg to make him move here.

Opportunity he tells me and lots of it, but the people here don’t realize it yet. You have large, well-respected corporations here with very limited web presence, websites that could be monetized in abundance, all with low overheads.

So why aren’t people knocking down your door?

I think they are a little backwards when it comes to the Internet. They are stuck in there old fashion ways and traditional media, with like minded people that have no expertize apart from what they read about on forums or books. Google doesn’t tell you how it works in books or forums, that’s why there are very few REAL experts out there.

We only take one client in each niche market and we don’t advertise that much, the people that know KNOW.

Everywhere web designers, students, copy writers, guys who have been on a 3 day SEO course are jumping on the gravy train because they can see big bucks to be made. All of a sudden all these firms are experts on the Internet, but do they have the client’s best interest in mind. It’s a joke really but that’s life.

Winnipeg is the jewel in the crown. Cream always rises to the top:-)

Yahoo joining Internet with TV

The Internet and the television have circled each other for years, but the timing was never right for them to form a serious relationship.

Now with Yahoo playing matchmaker, their union promises to flower in a big way.

The Sunnyvale Web portal, with the help of Intel, made one of the bigger splashes at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month with the full unveiling of its Yahoo Widget Channel, a new platform for Internet content that will be embedded in TVs from a number of major manufacturers.

The initiative takes the flirtation that companies like Sony and Samsung have had with watching Internet content on the TV and gives it a profound boost, helping users consume a robust version of the Web through one of their most beloved consumer electronics devices.

Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Vizio have announced plans to deploy the channel on upcoming Internet-connected TVs starting this spring. Their TVs will feature at least 20 TV-optimized widgets or applications including MySpace, eBay, YouTube, CBS and – of course – a number of Yahoo properties like Yahoo News, Weather, Video, Finance and Flickr.