Give Me Media

How Google sent United Airlines stock plummeting
September 11, 2008, 2:45 pm
Filed under: Google, PR, search marketing | Tags: , , ,

I’ve been watching a fascinating story unfold in the US this week charting how a mixup on Google sent the share price of United Airlines plummeting by a massive 76 per cent. The event triggered an emergency halt in trading earlier this week as automated trading systems began a mass sell-off of United Airlines stock.

It all came about after a nearly six-year-old story detailing the airline’s bankruptcy filing in 2002 on the Sun Sentinel’s web site found its way back into Google’s news cycle which in turn was picked up by Bloomberg and the rest, as they say, is history. The Tribune Company, which owns the Sun Sentinel and other US newspapers has since removed the offending article from its archives.

I read the story before it was removed and despite it being clearly dated from 2002, and was clearly related to events in 2002 it still managed to wipe $1bn of the value off the airline in a matter of minutes.

Above all this shows just how important Google has become in the communications landscape today, and its no longer enough to simply assume that as long as your profile in the traditional media is good, that you can ignore what’s happening online, and in particular what Google thinks of you.

The United Airlines example will not be the last, and for people in the communications industry arguing over the technicality of Google’s algorithms that contributed to this, and how the story got republished is missing the point in a big way. What Google thinks of your brand, and how it is represented has a massive impact on your bottom line, so it’s about time you did something about it. Just ask United.


Yahoo’s new ad network – but is bigger really better?
September 8, 2008, 2:28 pm
Filed under: marketing, MSN, online advertising, Yahoo! | Tags: , ,

Yahoo’s relaunch of its online ad network, which now claims to reach more than 80 per cent of the web’s population, may be good news for the investors as it tries to keep pace with Google’s relentless ad network growth, but beyond being a positive bit of PR for a company that needs it, is it actually what the online advertising market actually needs?

The latest Bellwether Report made grim reading earlier in the summer and in a tighter economic environment, while the Internet is escaping marketing budget cuts, it is being squeezed with online budgets seeing their smallest upward revision since 2003. The issue therefore is not whether Yahoo simply fight with Google and provide as broad a reach, but what is it actually going to do to bolster the online display ad market? What fresh value will it add to the market? And how will it help marketers justify continued investment?

Beyond all the obvious Yahoo-owned properties, the new ad network boasts offering space on more than 100 top comScore-rated web sites. That’s all well and good, but what difference does that really offer a market looking to make its display advertising more effective? Online display advertising can have more of an impact than simply brand building, but it involves thinking a bit more creatively about the issue than simply buying up space on the 100 most visited sites.

In fact carpet bombing the most visited sites on the web is a nothing more than a hit and hope exercise if you’re response rates is your goal. Fortunately, some marketers and media buyers are beginning to realise that looking outside the top 100 most visited sites, they can find specific sites that offer access to energised audiences that are far more receptive and responsive. One of those smart chaps is a friend of mine in the online ad industry and he uses the example of a pet food brand advertising online, and the different response levels it would get running ads on MSN, Yahoo etc compared to investing the same budget in a handful of pet-lover web sites.

He also told me he was amazed by how many media buyers and online marketers still don’t get it, despite the pressure on their budgets. So while Yahoo can be applauded for the impressive reach and scale of its revamped network, the real question is, do marketers really need it right now and isn’t it a bit late to the game?