Google Labs has launched an interesting new gadget that allows users to create a Google Checkout store in gadget form to use on their blog or web site. According to Google the process is as simple as three easy steps:

1. Sign up for a Google Checkout account

2. Fill out a Google Docs Spreadsheet

3. Set up and insert you gadget

Sounds easy enough. Easily create an online store using a Google Docs spreadsheet. Interesting indeed. "No complicated coding or technical tasks are required," says Google on the gadget's homepage. "You can get your first online store up-and-running in under five minutes."

As business owners and non-business owners alike look to sell stuff online to make money online in a less than ideal economy, a simple way of setting up a store can be just the ticket. With this gadget, once users sign up for Google Checkout, they can list their products in the spreadsheet and manage their inventory right in Google Docs.

The gadget itself can be embedded anywhere, which could be incredibly useful, particularly to those sellers who operate more than one site. In fact, online business owners are often encouraged to blog. Wouldn't it make sense to have the store embedded right on the blog, for easy access? I think it would in many cases.

The gadget comes in three different sizes - large, small, and tiny. Here is how they look in comparison to one another:

Google Store Gadget

Google Store Gadget

Google Store Gadget

When it comes to making the spreadsheet available to customers, you can do this by clicking "share" in the upper right-hand corner in Google Docs Spreadsheets. Then you choose "publish as a web page" from the drop down menu, and make sure that the "automatically re-publish when changes are made" option is checked. Then just click "start publishing".

If you have any trouble using it, Google runs down the whole process here. They have also set up a Google Checkout store gadget forum.

It should be noted that this gadget being a project of Google Labs means that it is still in the experimental stage. Does that mean you can't use it? Of course not. Let's not forget that Gmail just left its "beta" status this year. But with the gadget being a lab, just know that it could have bugs.


Google has taken an opportunity to remind North American AdSense publishers that the fastest way to receive payments is through Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).

"We want to get you paid by the fastest means possible," says Elizabeth Ferdon of the AdSense Payments Team.

AdSense "EFT is quick and easy to set up. When payments are issued, there's no need to wait for the delivery in the mail -- the funds appear in your bank account shortly after they're issued," she adds. "That means if we processed a payment for you this month, your earnings would be in your bank account already."

Signing up for ETF through Google is a three-step process:

1. Enter your bank account info

2. Find your test deposit

3. Enter the test deposit amount in your AdSense account.

To enter your bank account info, just go to "my account" and click the "edit link next to the "payment details" header. Then in the Electronic Funds Transfer section, select the "add new bank account" radio button, and click continue. Enter the requested info and save the changes.

Test deposits can take a few days, and on your bank statement, they will be labeled as one of the following:

- Google AdSense Payment

Once you have your test deposit amount, click the "my account" tab, and in the "payment details" section, click "verify this account." Enter the test deposit amount that you received in your bank account in the box, and click "next." Your bank account will be approved and you can select it as your default payment method.

Currently, Google offers Western Union in 23 countries and courier service in a number of others as payment options. Other regions where EFT isn't offered are reminded that Google is continuously working on expanding payment options in more places.


More than 20 percent of commercial, permission-based email does not reach the inboxes of intended subscribers in the United States and Canada, according to email management firm Return Path.

The study found emails reached only 79.3 percent of inboxes in the United States and in Canada during the first half of 2009. With the undelivered email, 3.3 percent is routed to a junk or bulk email folder and 17.4 percent is not delivered at all.

George Bilbrey
George Bilbrey

"Many marketers aren't even aware that one-fifth of their emails are never reaching the inbox," said George Bilbrey, President, co-founder, Return Path. "In many cases, marketers are seeing 'delivered' metrics that repeatedly show a 95% to 98% delivery rate. Unfortunately, many ESPs and marketers have developed the belief that whatever emails aren't bouncing have successfully reached the inbox."

"That's just not true, as these numbers show. Marketers need to examine their current deliverability stats, and remember that hard bounces aren't the only emails that aren't reaching your subscribers."

The U.S. deliverability rates are slightly better than Canada with an average of 82 percent reaching their destination, while Canada's inbox rates are lower with 75 percent of emails landing in subscriber's inboxes.

Successful deliverability to subscriber's inboxes varies by ISP. The top five U.S. ISPs ranked in order of difficulty for marketer's emails to reach user's inboxes are Gmail, Hotmail, MSN, Comcast, and AOL.

Non-delivery Rates by ISP (US)

Marketers have an even more difficult time reaching business email addresses that are protected by email monitoring systems such as Postini, Symantec and MessageLabs. On average, 27.6 percent of commercial emails sent to business addresses don't reach the inbox.

"As ISPs continue their daily battle to keep consumers' inboxes protected from the onslaught of spam, legitimate commercial emails that consumer want to receive aren't being delivered," said Bilbrey.

"It's imperative that marketers dig into their deliverability stats to truly see how many of their emails are successfully reaching the inbox."


For at least the next three years, Google will play a significant role in the delivery of New Zealanders' mail. The Postal Services Group of New Zealand Post has entered an agreement that'll have it putting Google Apps in front of 2,100 employees.

This counts as Google's largest commercial deal yet in New Zealand or Australia. It's supposed to save New Zealand Post (which is a state-owned enterprise) in the neighborhood of $2 million over the course of three years.

Also, Postal Services CEO Peter Fenton said in a statement, "This will increase our ability to work collaboratively." And he claimed, "Google Apps will help us retain our people and attract the next generation of talented graduates."

If all goes according to plan, then, Google will have achieved quite a lot while in a very public position. So it's possible that this development will lead to other businesses in the region adopting Google Apps. Other postal entities (or entire cities) might follow suit, too.

Of course, Google will probably first have to spend at least a few days shooting down conspiracy theories about how it might now have access to people's physical mail.


Companies have long had problems putting numbers on social media marketing results. Wetpaint and the Altimeter Group have now released a study looking at how engagement with consumers through social media correlates with financial performance.
The "ENGAGEMENTdb study" shows that companies who measured as having "the greatest breadth and depth of social media engagement" grew revenues by 18% over the last year, while the companies that were the least engaged dropped 6% on average.

Charlene Li "This is the first study of this depth on the top global brands and we think the results provide a good guide for corporations and brand marketers in every industry," says Charlene Li, Founder, Altimeter Group. "The success stories we have uncovered provide a blueprint for companies making decisions about how to best apply their marketing and consumer relations resources."

Channels taken into consideration for the study were:

- Blogs
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Wikis
- Discussion Forums

Brands looked at were the 100 most valuable ones as identified by the 2008 BusinessWeek/Interbrand Best Global Brands ranking. In case you were wondering what the top ten brands are according to the ENGAGEMENTdb study, they are as follows:

1. Starbucks
2. Dell
3. eBay
4. Google
5. Microsoft
6. Thomson Reuters
7. Nike
8. Amazon
9. SAP
10. Yahoo!/Intel (Tie)
Engagementdb graph - Starbucks on top
So what are these brands doing right?

According to Wetpaint and the Altimeter Group, the companies that scored well have dedicated teams (of varying sizes) who are active in the social media channels they utilize. Basically, it shows that it pays (literally) to have a team working full time on engaging with customers via social media. Even if that team consists of one person, it means they will not be distracted by other tasks and can give the social channel the attention required for it to make a significant impact.

As the social web continues to grow (meaning more people joining social networks, more people blogging, and more sites becoming social), there is a growing number of channels that require said attention.

Ben Elowitz "The ENGAGEMENTdb study goes a long way towards validating the importance of social media for business," says Ben Elowitz, CEO of Wetpaint. "The closer any company is to its customers, the better, and it's hard to argue with the ability for social media to create such proximity. In this day and age, companies should feel much more comfortable investing in social media -- the correlation to results is so clear."

It is in fact that clarity that many companies have had a hard time seeing in the past. Social media is still in its early stages though really. In the grand scheme of things, it's still a relatively new concept. Keep in mind, that many businesses still do not even have websites, let alone a social media presence.

It is going to take studies like this and concrete data showing the financial benefits for more small businesses to truly get on board and engage. Having dedicated teams is a strategy that will likely become more commonplace as companies realize that half-assing it is just a waste of time.

A couple of other highlights from the study:

- The study found that the most successful teams evangelize social media across the entire organization to pull in a broad range of stakeholders.

- These companies view social media as an indispensable tool to help them achieve results, and their approach is conversational.

Along with the study, the ENGAGEMENTdb site was launched as a tool where companies can measure themselves against the top 100 in terms of the strength of their social media efforts. It's probably not a bad idea to take a look if you're serious about those efforts.


Google released its second quarter earnings report this afternoon, and the search giant met and beat most analysts' written estimates. Its bottom line in terms of profit looked especially good.

The consensus was that Google would post $4.05 billion in net revenue. It managed $4.07 billion, instead. Then the company established a more impressive contrast when it came to earnings per share - $5.35 versus $5.05 - although Henry Blodget wrote, "the EPS upside appears to have come from a lower-than-expected tax rate."

As for net profit, Google leapt from $1.25 billion for the second quarter of last year to $1.48 billion, a jump of 18.4 percent. That doesn't look to be a result of being tentative, as the official report announced, "We expect to continue to make significant capital expenditures."

Eric Schmidt also stated, "Google had a very good quarter, especially given the continued macro-economic downturn. While most of the world's largest economies shrank, Google's year-over-year revenues were up 3%. These results highlight the enduring strength of our business model and our responsible efforts to manage expenses in a way that puts us in a good position for the economic upturn, when it occurs."

Still, Google's down by 2.62 percent in after-hours trading. It may be that some people are doing a little profit-taking, or there could be another problem plaguing the company. Dan Frommer wrote, "CNBC mistakenly reported Google's net sales as $3.07 billion before correcting themselves a moment later."

One last thing worth noting: as of June 30th, Google employed 378 fewer full-time employees than it did on March 31st, so some significant cutting has taken place.


The online gaming audience has seen a significant increase in the past year as people are increasingly looking for cheaper entertainment alternatives, driven partly by the economy, according to a new report from comScore.

The category attracted 87 million U.S. visitors in May 2009, up 22 percent compared to a year ago.

Yahoo Games was the most popular with 19.4 million visitors, representing a 6 percent increase over the past year, followed by EA Online with 18 million visitors (up 34 %), Nickelodeon Casual Games with 14.8 million visitors, and WildTangent Network with 13.8 million (up 16%). GSN Games Networks saw particularly strong gains in the past year, growing 563 percent to 6 million visitors, due in part to the additions of WorldWinner.com and CrazyMonkeyGames.

"Online gaming continues to be one of the top gaining categories over the past year growing at ten times the rate of the total U.S. Internet population and reaching nearly one out of every two Internet users," said Edward Hunter, comScore director of gaming solutions.

Top Online Gaming Sites

"And the growth in the category is occurring not only at the top gaming destination sites, but also through viral distribution platforms, including widgets and applications. In fact, some online gaming companies that distributed their games across sites are reaching as many people as the top online gaming sites."

Distributed content platforms can often reach audiences of a size comparable to online gaming destination sites. MochiMedia reached a combined audience of 16.9 million in May, greater than all but two sites in the online gaming category. Games2Win reached 1.8 million people, which compares favorably with the top twenty sites in the category, while Tetris Online reached 165,000 people.


Microsoft's Bing accounted for 5.25 percent of all U.S. searches for the month of June, according to the latest data from Hitwise.

Google continued to hold on to its dominant position growing 7 percent year-over- year capturing 74.04 percent of the U.S. search market for the month.

Yahoo landed in the second position with 16.19 percent of the search market, but saw its growth drop 17 percent year-over-year, while Ask received 3.15 percent of searches with its growth slipping 22 percent year-over-year.

Percentage of U.S. searches among leading search engine providers

The remaining 48 search engines in the Hitwise Search Engine Analysis Tool accounted for 1.36 percent of U.S. searches.

Looking at the weekly percentage of U.S. searches for Bing, it has grown at an average weekly rate of 25 percent for the month of June, Adding in Live.com and MSN Search along with Bing, the combined search engine have grown at an average of 16 percent during the month. Bing grew faster than the three other top search engines for the month.

Percentage of U.S. searches among Bing

The length of search queries has increased over the past year. Longer search queries, averaging five to more than eight words in length, increased 8 percent between June 2008 and June 2009. Searches of eight or more words increased 16 percent. The same time period showed that shorter queries - those averaging one to four words long - have decreased 2 percent. Searches of two words accounted for the majority of searches, making up 22.88 percent of all queries.

Percentage of U.S. clicks by number of keywords

Search engines continue to be the most popular way Internet users navigate to key industry categories. Comparing June 2009 with June 2008, business and finance, entertainment, online video and sports categories showed double-digit increases in their share of traffic coming directly from search engines.


CoTweet is a Twitter app, which is described as a real-time business collaboration platform for Twitter. It has also just raised $1.1 million in venture funding.

The funding comes from Baseline Ventures, Founders Fund, First Round Capital, SV Angel, Maples Investments and Freestyle Capital. CoTweet is used by brands like Whole Foods, Starbucks, Microsoft, JetBlue, Ford, Pepsi, Sprint, and Coca-Cola.


"Social media properties like Twitter give consumers incredible power to shape public perceptions of brands," said Steve Anderson, Founder of Baseline Ventures, who led the round and will join CoTweet’s Board of Directors. "CoTweet gives companies and their brands a set of tools to directly engage consumers and forge stronger bonds with them on the social networks they belong to, starting with Twitter."

Co-Tweet says companies can use its platform to:

- Engage people throughout your company — Share the job of being on duty. Tap the collective wisdom of people across functional areas like marketing, PR and customer service. Assign tasks and track follow-ups.

- Focus on the conversations that matter — Know when you need to jump in. Track your exchanges through simple case management. Schedule updates to make company announcements.

- Keep your brand human — Automatically include signatures in your updates to identify who's talking and keep conversations personal.

"Social networks, including Twitter, have ushered in a new era of social CRM for businesses," said Jesse Engle, CEO of CoTweet. "We’re thrilled have such a prestigious roster of financial backers, whose background in this space gives us a distinct advantage in setting a course for continued success."

It will be interesting to see where the new funding takes CoTweet. Recently, Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone discussed the use of the word "Tweet," with regards to Twitter's copyright.

"We have applied to trademark Tweet because it is clearly attached to Twitter from a brand perspective but we have no intention of 'going after' the wonderful applications and services that use the word in their name when associated with Twitter," he said. "In fact, we encourage the use of the word Tweet. However, if we come across a confusing or damaging project, the recourse to act responsibly to protect both users and our brand is important."

According to CoTweet's press release, Twitter is actually among the companies that use CoTweet, so I guess they're safe.


GoDaddy is sometimes hard to take seriously; its marketing department seems to be run by the same bunch of teenage boys in charge of Axe commercials. But GoDaddy is still the world's largest domain registrar, and it's poised to help Twitter with a new step in its registration process.

GoDaddy seems to have made the assumption that anyone wanting to create a website will also want to establish a presence on Twitter. Adam Ostrow reports that it's actually "integrated Twitter registration into its domain manager, allowing you to see if the Twitter username that matches your URL is available, and if so, register it."

This says a great deal about how important Twitter has become to the people at GoDaddy (and indeed, you can find GoDaddyDeals, GoDaddyJobs, and GoDaddyGuy Twitter accounts, with that last one being rather popular and putting out about ten tweets per day).

It says something about what GoDaddy thinks its customers want, too.

And since every single GoDaddy customer probably hasn't been switching back and forth between the domain registrar and Twitter while trying to name a company, this development may introduce Twitter to a lot of new people.


Today a group of key trade groups released comprehensive privacy principles for use and collection of behavioral data in online advertising. These are self-regulatory principles to protect consumer privacy in ad-supported interactive media that will require advertisers and Web sites to clearly inform consumers about data collection practices and enable them to exercise control over that information.

Trade Associations Groups involved are the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB), and of course the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

"Consumers deserve transparency regarding the collection and use of their data for behavioral advertising purposes. I am gratified that a group of influential associations – representing a significant component of the Internet community – has responded to so many of the privacy concerns raised by my colleagues and myself,” says Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour.

What Google Has to Say

Google recently testified in Washington regarding privacy and advertising. Highlighted in the testimony were three main topics:

- Google's main advertising products and the benefits Google believes online advertising brings to advertisers, online publishers, and individual Internet users

- Google's approach to privacy, specific steps that the company takes to protect users' privacy, and the release of interest-based advertising

- Ideas and recommendations for how to better protect Internet users' privacy with respect to advertising, as well as more generally

You can read the entire testimony here (pdf).

In a post on Google Public Policy Blog today, Google Managing Policy Counsel Pablo Chavez talked about the principles and Google's own behavioral-based or "interest-based" advertising.

"When we launched our own interest-based advertising product in March, we worked hard to include several innovative features to give users more control and information -- including ads labeled 'Ads by Google,' a tool called the Ads Preferences Manager (which lets users view, add, and remove the categories that are used to show them interest-based ads), and the choice to opt out of interest-based ads altogether," says Chavez.

"One of the key strengths of the principles is the fact that they apply to a broad range of companies participating in online advertising -- advertisers, publishers, and ad networks," adds Chavez. "Of course, for any self-regulatory effort to be effective, there has to be some kind of enforcement process. Between now and early 2010 -- when the principles are expected to be implemented -- the Better Business Bureau and Direct Marketing Association, two of the groups involved, will work to set up that process to make sure it has real teeth."

The Principles

So what are these principles? There are seven of them:

1. The Education Principle
2. The Transparency Principle
3a. The Consumer Control Principle
3b.The Consumer Control Principle (applies to service providers)
4. The Data Security Principle
5. The Material Changes Principle
6. The Sensitive Data Principle
7. The Accountability Principle

I won't get into all of the specific details of each one here, but you can read the entire document here if you are interested. Either way, it is good to see that these organizations are taking consumer privacy this seriously.


Google and Bing have both talked about site architecture issues lately on their blogs. Site architecture is an important part of search engine optimization, and crucial to ranking.

"You can have great content and a plethora of high quality inbound links from authority sites, but if your site’s structure is flawed or broken, then it will still not achieve the optimal page rank you desire from search engines," says Rick DeJarnette of Bing Webmaster Center.

If you have time, and site architecture is not your strong suit, I would suggest reading both Microsoft's post and Google's, but to sum them up, here a few tips from each of them.

Bing's Tips

1. Use descriptive file and directory names

2. Limit directory depth

3. Limit physical page file size

4. Externalize on-page Javascript and CSS code

5. Use 301 redirects for moved pages

6. Avoid JavaScript or meta refresh redirects

7. Implement custom 404 pages

Google's Tips

Google starts out by talking about some site architecture myths, and also shares a couple slideshows (they talked about the topic at SMX London).

Finally, they offer these tips:

1. Check that your robots.txt file has the correct status code and isn't returning an error

2. Keep in mind some best practices when moving to a new site and the new "Change of address" feature recently added to Webmaster Tools.

3. Review the settings of the robots.txt file to make sure no pages -- particularly those rewritten and/or dynamic -- are blocked inappropriately.

4. Make good use of the rel="canonical" attribute to reduce the indexing of duplicate content on your domain.

As I said, Google and Microsoft both have plenty more to say on the topic in their respective posts. The Bing post is actually the third installment in a series.


Nearly 55 million Americans visited an entertainment news site in May 2009, representing a 7 percent increase over the previous year, according to a new report from comScore.

Online video has also played an increasingly important role for content in the category, with the number of videos viewed growing 53 percent in the past year.

"With more than one out of every four U.S Internet users visiting an entertainment news site each month, it's clear that following entertainment and celebrity culture has become a popular online pastime," said Jack Flanagan, comScore executive vice president.

comScore Data

comScore Data

"What's also interesting is that Americans are feeding their hunger for celebrity gossip by 'snacking' on these news updates throughout the workday. In fact, nearly half of all time spent on entertainment news sites comes from work computers."

Overall, Americans spent more than 893 million minutes or 15 million hours on entertainment news sites, with 44 percent of the total time spent during work.

More than a quarter of Internet users visited an entertainment news site in May. omg!, Yahoo's celebrity focused site, proved most popular with 20.6 million visitors, nearly doubling its audience in the past year. TMZ landed in the second position with 9.9 million visitors (up 7% over a year ago), followed by People with 8.2 million visitors.

Significant gains were seen by Usmagazine.com, up 325 percent to 6.5 million visitors, Entertainment Weekly, up 64 percent to nearly 4 million visitors, and The Insider, which grew 215 percent to 2.5 million visitors.

"May was one of the heaviest months on record for entertainment news consumption, but it will almost certainly be surpassed in June with the shocking news of Michael Jackson's death driving high volumes of traffic to these sites," added Mr. Flanagan.

"While most entertainment news sites will see gains in June, TMZ is primed for an especially big month as the first outlet to report the news, which generated thousands of inbound links to the site."

In April 2009, 34.8 million videos were viewed on entertainment news sites, an increase of 52 percent compared to a year ago. TMZ led the category with 2 million video viewers and 10.3 million videos viewed. More than 1.7 million viewers watched 3.8 million videos at omg!, while ETOnline attracted 1.5 million viewers who watched 3.9 million videos.

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