YouTube Now Gets More Than 1 Billion Unique Visitors Every Month

YouTube is new getting more than 1 billion unique visitors every month. The YouTube team shared the news in a post on the YouTube Blog. Google hit the billion unique visitors mark in June 2011.

"YouTube announced it had reached the milestone in a preview of the presentation it plans to make to advertisers May 1 in New York City, during the digital upfront," according to Dawn C. Chmielewski of the LA Times. "It hit 800 million monthly viewers in October 2011."

YouTube's milestone is important to more than 1 million content creators from over 30 countries around the world who are earning money from their YouTube videos as well as more than a million advertisers. Tens of thousands of YouTube partners have created channels and built businesses for passionate, engaged audiences. And all of the Ad Age Top 100 brands are now running campaigns on YouTube.

So, what does a billion people tuning into YouTube look like? According to YouTube:

Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube.YouTube's monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly 10 Super Bowl audiences.If YouTube were a country, it would be the third largest in the world after China and India.PSY and Madonna would have to repeat their Madison Square Garden performance in front of a packed house 200,000 more times in order to reach an audience the same size.Generation C is Powering YouTube's Growth

Gunnard Johnson, Google's Advertising Research Director, posted a related story on the AdWords Agency Blog to explain what's powering YouTube's growth.

"The way people consume content is changing," Johnson said. "For the first time, an entire generation has grown up watching content on their own terms. This generation is defined by the Internet, mobile, and social – consuming content when and where they want. Nielsen calls this group Generation C because they are not just defined by their age group, but by their connected behavior."

According to Johnson, Gen C, which has also been called the Millennial Generation, thrives on:

Connection: Gen C watches YouTube on all screens, constantly switching between devices.Creation: Gen C is deeply engaged with online video, watching, creating and uploading videos on YouTube.Community: Gen C thrive on community, defining what's popular on YouTube by sharing videos with friends and family.Curation: Gen C is made up of expert curators who care about finding content that matters to them.

According to The Millennial Generation Research Review by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Gen C is a powerful demographic – not only are they cultural tastemakers, they influence $500 billion of spending a year in the U.S. Yet they can be a hard to reach audience for brands. According to GfK MRI Fall 2012 data, members of Gen C are 45 percent more likely to be light TV viewers, choosing instead to consume many forms of content across many screens.

"Over the next few months, we'll take a deeper look at Gen C, sharing insights and trends about our audience on YouTube," Johnson added. "To start, we're focusing on how Gen C watches YouTube across devices."

Multiscreen Marketing is Essential to Reaching Gen C

According to Nielsen Mobile Insights Survey, Q4 2012, young adults are leading the growth in smartphone ownership in the U.S. For example, 76 percent of 18-34 year olds now own smartphones, versus 60 percent of the general population. To better understand how Gen C connects with YouTube across screens, Johnson worked with Nielsen to take a look at viewing patterns on smartphones.

They found that that the amount of time Gen C spends watching YouTube on their smartphones is up 74 percent from last year. In fact, in 2012 the number of Gen C viewers who regularly watch YouTube on smartphones caught up to the number of viewers tuning in on their PCs. 67 percent of Gen C watch YouTube on two devices or more, compared to 53 percent of the general population.

How Does Gen C Watch YouTube on Smartphones?

Gen C tunes in to YouTube throughout every part of their day. YouTube usage by Gen C on smartphones mirrors usage on PCs and peaks during prime time hours.

Gen C watches YouTube on their smartphones as a complementary activity to their lives. For example, 41 percent tune in to YouTube on their smartphone while waiting for something/someone, 18 percent while commuting from work or school, and 15 percent tune in while commercials are running on TV.

On smartphones, most members of Gen C engage with YouTube as a destination by actively searching for videos on YouTube (47 percent). Viewers are also discovering videos socially – 9 percent of respondents said they watched a video on their smartphone because it was shared by friends in an email, while 18% watched a video because it was shared on a social network.

YouTube Searches Now Available on Google Trends

In related news, Kevin Allocca announced on YouTube Trends that YouTube search has been added to Google Trends.

"Google Trends enables you to take popular search queries and explore traffic patterns over time and geography. Now we've added YouTube search data going back to 2008, making it another great tool to look at video trends," Allocca wrote. "Visit Google Trends and enter any search you'd like and then, on the left, choose "limit to" for YouTube. You can slice by region or category as well."

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Australian Court Finds Google Responsible For Misleading Ads Placed By Its Advertisers

A Federal Appeals Court in Australia has found Google responsible for misleading ads that displayed when users searched for certain terms and received ads from competitors who had bid on those terms.

The ruling, though it only applies in Australia, is important because one of Google’s most central beliefs — which has come up in legal cases again and again — is that it is solely a publisher of content and advertisements, rather than the author of that content, and should therefore not be responsible for what appears on its pages.

The plaintiff in the case is the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), a consumer protection agency. Originally, Google had not been found responsible, but, on appeal, the Full Federal Court overturned the earlier ruling.

Is Google Just A Publisher, Or Does It Hold Responsibility For Content?

“The ACCC brought this appeal because it raises very important issues as to the role of search engine providers as publishers of paid content in the online age,” said ACCC chairman Rod Smith. The Court ordered Google to develop a program to comply with consumer law and to pay ACCC’s court costs.

At issue is who is responsible for the advertisements when Google displays them. is it Google, because its algorithm controls what displays when? Or is it the advertiser, who chooses the keywords associated with its ads?

The primary judge had originally found that, although the ads were misleading or deceptive, Google had not made the misleading or deceptive representations. Google merely communicated representations made by the advertiser.

What’s Critical Is The Triggering Of The Link

But now, the Full Federal Court is saying that’s not the case. It’s holding Google responsible as if it made the representations itself. In its ruling, the Court said, “the enquiry is made of Google and it is Google�s response which is misleading… Although the key words are selected by the advertiser, perhaps with input by Google, what is critical to the process is the triggering of the link by Google using its algorithms.”

In a statement, Google has said it’s reviewing its options:

“We are disappointed by the Federal Court�s decision that Google should be responsible for the content of four particular ads on its platform. Google AdWords is an ads hosting platform, and we believe that advertisers should be responsible for the ads they create on the AdWords platform. We�re committed to providing an advertising platform that benefits both advertisers and users. We investigate complaints about violations of our policies and terms and conditions, and if we are notified of an ad violating our terms and conditions we will remove it. We are currently reviewing our options in light of the court�s decision.”

Google’s Terms and Conditions for Australia say that the customer “is solely responsible for all: (a) ad targeting options and keywords (collectively “Targets”) and all ad content, ad information, and ad URLs (“Creative”), whether generated by or for Customer…”

Schmidt: Forcing Carriers To Provide “Clean” Android Would Violate Principle Of Open Source

One of the disturbing things about the Skyhook Wireless lawsuit against Google is the allegation that Google made Motorola drop Skyhook as a location provider, especially when Google CEO Eric Schmidt said last week that such restrictions would be “violating the principle of open source.”

Schmidt’s comment came during a press lunch at the Google Zeitgeist partners conference last week, on September 14, a day before the Skyhook suit made headlines.

I’d asked Schmidt why Google didn’t pressure carriers to provide a way for consumers to have a “pure” Android experience if they want, especially when carriers often don’t push out the latest Android updates or load their phones with features some users might not want.

Schmidt’s response, and I’ve bolded the key portion below, was that Android is open source, and so Google can’t be putting restrictions on what can be done in to its open source software and still have it remain open source:


If I buy a new PC or buy a new Mac, and there’s a new software update, I don’t have to go back and wait for Dell to tell me whether or not I can install Windows 7 or whatever it is I want to have. I can just get it.

Is there not a way you can go back to the carriers and say, “You know what, Android’s free, give it out to everybody, but you give the users an option that if they want to have a clean install, they can do it, they can download updates directly from Google. You do that with the Nexus One….


I love that the fact that the two of you [Mike Arrington, who earlier had called it Google's best phone, because it was the most pure version of Android] love the Nexus One, thank you very much.

But the fact of the matter is that if we were to put those type of restrictions on an open source product, we’d be violating the principle of open source.

You can watch the exchange in the video below. Schmidt also discusses his time at Sun, when Sun tried to have a restrictive “open source” Java that didn’t work, in his opinion:

I’d asked about carriers, but Schmidt’s answer was general. If it’s open source, you put it out there and let anyone — the hardware manufacturers, carriers or anyone — do what they want with it.

Then again, that might not be the case. As the Skyhook case alleges, Google’s “compliance” review, something apparently done solely by Google employees, was said to be used to pressure on Motorola not to use Skyhook. From our earlier story, which cites the Skyhook filing:

Google wielded its control over the Android operating system, as well as other Google mobile applications such as Google Maps, to force device manufacturers to use its technology rather than that of Skyhook, to terminate contractual obligations with Skyhook, and to otherwise force device manufacturers to sacrifice superior end user experience with Skyhook by threatening directly or indirectly to deny timely and equal access to evolving versions of the Android operating system and other Google mobile applications.

You can also see related coverage on this point from other public publications via Techmeme here and here.

As it’s a pending lawsuit, Google won’t speak to the specifics of the case. But in general, it gave me this statement:

Android is an open platform and device makers are free to modify the Android source code to customize or disable any range of features for Android devices. However if someone wishes to market a device as being Android compatible or to include Google applications on the device, we require the device to conform with some basic compatibility requirements to help ensure a consistent experience for users and a consistent platform for developers

This suggests that Google decided Skyhook’s service was somehow incompatible with Androids requirements, which still seems puzzling to me — but that’s something we’ll try to follow up more on, in the future.

Just before the segment above, Schmidt also answered a number of other questions relating to Android. There’s a video of this below, and here are some highlights (and time marks). Also answering on the video is Jonathan Rosenberg, senior vice president, product management, at Google.

When will there be an Android phone better than the iPhone…. (Beginning of video)

You’re not familiar with the Samsung Galaxy S?

Why hardware makers can issue their own flavors of Android…. (1:17 in)

Our policy is to allow the hardware manufacturers to add what consider to be value added …. it seems to be working …. partners like the fact that they can add value.

On the Android / iPhone battle…. (3:00 in)

It benefits both companies, because it increases competition, and I think both companies can do very well …. the fact that these things become popular and everybody wants them, means everybody wins.

On how not making any money on Android doesn’t matter… (6:12 in)

We make zero. It’s free. That would be the definition of no margin …. I have been surprised at how important Android is to our business, but for none of the reasons that you all [in the media] talk about. It’s fundamentally because Android is seen as representative of the new model of computing.

You can watch the video of these answers and more below:

Also from the lunch interview, Schmidt discusses why Google can’t list its ranking factors:

How Google might get Facebook’s social data and what Google might do with it:

Schmidt: Listing Google�s 200 Ranking Factors Would Reveal Business Secrets has a transcript of both videos above and more analysis.

For the really interested, TechCrunch has posted video of the entire lunch with reporters:

Google Panda 3.2 Update Confirmed

Google has confirmed reports of a Panda update with us. The company told us they have done a data refresh of the Google Panda algorithm about a week ago, and added that there were no additional signals or algorithm changes. This was only a data refresh.

I saw reports over the past week or so of webmasters commenting about their rankings. Most were complaining that they lost rankings, but some said sites that were originally hit by Panda regained their traffic levels pre-Panda. This would explain the data refresh, where Google ran the algorithm and updated the sites that should or should not have been touched by Panda.

Google Panda 3.2

Google said this happened about a week or so, so I would place this Google Panda 3.2 update as happening on January 18, 2012.

Why 3.2 and not 2.x? Well, I spoke with a Googler back in late November, they expressed that one of the 2.x updates we labeled as a “minor” update, should have likely been named as a major update and thus labelled a 3.0 update. I personally believe that was an October Panda update, that we did not cover here, but I do not have confirmation on that. In fact, Google does not number their updates, so it is hard to nail down.

The 3.1 update was likely the the minor update from November and now this being a basic “data refresh,” we’d label this as a minor update as well, and call this the 3.2 update.

There was a long gap between this update and the update from November because Google promised us no Panda updates during holidays.

Previous Panda Updates

Here�s the Panda update schedule so far, as we�ve tracked and had confirmed by Google:

Panda Update 1.0: Feb. 24, 2011Panda Update 2.0: April 11, 2011 (about 7 week gap)Panda Update 2.1: May 10, 2011 (about 4 week gap)Panda Update 2.2: June 16, 2011 (about 5 week gap)Panda Update 2.3: July 23, 2011 (about 5 week gap)Panda Update 2.4: August 12, 2011 (about 3 week gap)Panda Update 2.5: September 28, 2011 (about 7 week gap)Panda Update 3.0 : ~October 19, 2011 (about 3 week gap)Panda Update 3.1 : November 18, 2011 (about 3 week gap)Panda Update 3.2 : ~January 18, 2012 (about 2 month gap)

We are waiting to hear back from Google on exact dates and will update our story with those dates if and when we hear back. But Google has indeed confirmed a Panda data refresh as a week or so ago.

Related ArticlesTaking a Closer Look at the Google�s Panda 2.5 “Flux”They�re Back! Google Issues Weather Report For Panda UpdateGoogle Panda 2.5: Losers Include Today Show, The Next Web; Winners Include YouTube, Fox NewsConfirmed: Google Panda 2.5 Update Arrived This WeekGoogle Panda Update 2.4: Panda Goes International, In Most LanguagesOfficial: Google Panda 2.3 Update Is LiveCan You Dig Out Of Your Google Panda Hole By Offloading To Subdomains?Why Google Panda Is More A Ranking Factor Than Algorithm Update

Facebook Adding Hashtags #AboutTime

Love them or hate them, hashtags are reportedly coming to Facebook - sometime - and most marketers couldn't be happier.

Although there has been no official announcement or comment by the social media giant, the long-rumored idea of Facebook incorporating hashtags – the ubiquitous # symbol used on Twitter to make certain keywords or topics searchable – gathered momentum late last week after "informed sources" told The Wall Street Journal that the company is indeed serious about the idea. The sources reportedly told the WSJ, however, that the move is not imminent.

Still, the concept already has some marketers drooling at the prospect of being able to find and be found more easily on Facebook.

"Bring em on," enthuses Natalie Burgwin, senior manager, public relations at 1-800-Got-Junk? which bills itself as the world's largest junk removal company, about the hashtags. "Visibility is the name of the game on social media and hashtags are going to increase that."

Indeed, the possibilities seem endless, if little is yet known about how, when, and where Facebook will incorporate the feature. Hashtags enable topics to be categorized and searched, which in theory would make it easier for brands to insert themselves into conversations around certain topics.

That could make Facebook host more often to the types of discussion and interaction about TV shows that frequently occur on Twitter, notes Jean-Philippe Gaudette, social media strategist at Codmorse, a Montreal-based web agency.

"Instead of posting comments by the brand page, users will be able to share their thoughts and read other people's thoughts without using the 'official' channel," he said.

Companies will also most likely seek to fit themselves into current trends and discussions to get more visibility, much as they do with trending topics on Twitter.

"This will probably lead to some original and creative campaigns, but also to commercial spam on user-created topics, such as the Twitter trending topics based on jokes, that brands often use in a clumsy way to try and look cool," Gaudette said.

Taylor Aldredge, in charge of digital and social media for Boston-based Grasshopper, a provider of virtual phone systems, believes hashtags will help bridge the gap for Facebook users with more people outside of their network, which will change the way brands can interact on the platform.

"Facebook will look a little more organic with this addition as long as conversation is possible around a public hashtag," he said.

The tags could also give community managers, frustrated by perceived lower organic reach caused by Facebook's new algorithms, the prospect of regaining some audience attention. And hashtags could also serve as important tools for cross-platform marketing campaigns, according to Steve Birkett, marketing associate with the Esvee Group, a marketing and web services consultancy in Brooklyn. Users could also post promotional hashtags on their pages if they so choose, as they do on Twitter.

Facebook should also benefit from keeping people on its site longer. Microsoft recently used a hashtag on Facebook, the logo #Reborn, in a graphic to announce the relaunch of its "Tomb Raider" video game. Since there was no way to connect it to other Facebook content or campaigns, it linked to out to a pre-order site.

"Subject to how Facebook employs them, functional hashtags would allow more varied marketing content, without forcing people to leave the site," Birkett notes.

Not everyone believes the hashtag will be a huge success at Facebook, however.

Michael Freeman, senior search manager at ShoreTel Sky, which provides enterprises with hosted VoIP phone systems, says that the type of conversation coveted by Facebook may simply sit better over at Twitter.

"Facebook has a hurdle in moving B2B conversations predominately from Twitter and LinkedIn over to their platform because users view Facebook as the main place for their personal social life but not their professional life," Freeman said.

Facebook is the only major social media platform, other than Flickr, to not use hashtags. Google+, Pinterest, and even Facebook subsidiary Instagram commonly make use of the symbols.

But as many point out, the hashtag has taken on a meaning beyond just a search tool and come to represent a cultural phenomenon, often to demonstrate humor or self-irony, which is one explanation for why people and companies have been using it on Facebook.

Not everyone is amused, however. There is even a Facebook group - with 10,164 likes and counting - called "This is not Twitter. Hashtags don't work here." For their sake, let's hope that's not true for long.

This article was originally published on ClickZ.

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Social Content Relevance on Holidays: Baileys, Brennans & Tourism Ireland St Patrick’s Day Wins

Brands often struggle to hit that elusive mix of creative, timely content relevant to their audience that still directly aligns with their brand. If you have something of a sense of humor, entertaining your audience isn’t that hard. Yet for your social content to be effective in marketing, at least a good portion must be relevant to your brand, as well. You know the deal, though; if you’re only talking about your brand or products, fans get bored with your self-promotion.

Special occasions and holidays offer marketers a great chance to get creative with their social content, to capture the attention of an increasingly attention-deficit audience.��Yet simply being an Irish company doesn’t make your product or service relevant on an Irish holiday. Being a Canadian, or American, company doesn’t guarantee relevance on holidays specific to North America, either.

In January, TopRank attended NMX Las Vegas and I had the opportunity to hear�Jay Baer speak on “Youtility”�- that is, offering your audience something of use to them. Become a source of useful information and connect on that level. Holidays are a great chance to offer something useful from your brand while capitalizing on the popularity of the day.

This St. Patrick’s Day, Irish brands Baileys, Tourism Ireland and Brennans Bread celebrated in the spirit of the occasion with social fans through their content. Each had a different strategy and each fulfilled a need for their specific audience, successfully aligning their product with the holiday. See what you can learn from their lead.

Baileys Inspires with Drink Recipe

Just in case you had forgotten to pick up a bottle of Baileys for St. Patrick’s Day, the iconic Irish beverage maker shared a delicious and simple reminder for fans.

Their St. Patrick’s Day best wishes image was captioned with the following: “In a cocktail shaker filled with ice shake 1oz Baileys� Irish Cream with a hint of Biscotti Flavour, 1/2oz Bushmills Irish Whiskey and1/2oz honey. Make sure the honey is completely blended and the drink is chilled. Serve in a martini glass or over ice. Enjoy!”

The high quality image stands out in the Newsfeeds of users and offers something relevant to the occasion they can actually use – and share with friends. And they did! The recipe was one of two St. Patrick’s Day posts by the brand, the other another image wishing everyone well. Between those two simple pieces of content, Baileys earned over 3,700 Likes and 1,000 Shares.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway:�Offer fans a useful tip, trick or other short bit of information relevant to your product or service they can actually use, to increase engagement and sharing. Be creative and plan to tap into upcoming special occasions.

Tourism Ireland Offers Access with Dublin Parade Livestream

Tourism Ireland chose to livestream the Dublin Parade on their website, promoting their coverage through their social accounts on St. Patrick’s Day. As you can see from the volume of activity around their post – 7,500 Likes and almost 2,000 shares – their social fans appreciated this access to an event many could not attend in person.

You don’t need to have a large business or a huge online marketing budget to offer your fans an insider look or direct access to an event. Creative video content is easier than ever to produce, with free tools like YouTube and Google+ Hangouts.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway: Give fans access to or a sneak peek at an event by livestreaming or recording happenings around a holiday. Hosting your video content on your website, like Tourism Ireland, can help drive traffic to your website, as well.

Brennans Bread Makes Their Product the Solution for the Holiday

How can you make a product like bread relevant on a holiday? Brennans Bread suggests: “St Patrick’s Day Parades will be taking place around the country this weekend, perfect time to break out the picnic basket and pack it full of sandwiches!”

They’re answering a question and solving a problem for their audience: what to do on St. Patrick’s Day? The picture is interesting and more likely to be shared because rather than using a stock image, Brennans created the iconic clover associated with the holiday out of their bread. It’s simple, doesn’t take long, and makes their product directly relevant to the occasion.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway:�Find that creative angle that makes your product, service or brand directly relevant to the holiday. Proactively answer a question or need fans may not even know they have by thinking, what is it people want or need to do on this day and how can we be a part of that?

With a little creativity and planning, you can tap into the heightened traffic and buzz around holidays with social content that speaks to consumers and still gets your brand message across. How do you connect the dots between your products or services and the topics your audience members are interested in? Share your tips or questions in the comments.

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Cookie Crunch: Complying with the EU ePrivacy Directive in the UK

While U.S. digital industry commentators were debating the "Do Not Track" initiative in May, the UK industry was rushing to meet the deadline for it's own privacy D-Day: May 26, 2012. This was the date on which the EU Privacy Directive, which had become UK law the previous year, started to be enforced by the UK regulator, the ICO.

What is The EU Privacy Directive?

The bureaucracy and mangled legalese the EU pumps out is legendary. Suffice to say there is a long Directive which, distilled down, requires brands to get "consent" – that's a word that will keep cropping up – before tracking consumers. How it's interpreted and has been written into law varies by EU country. This article focuses on the UK.

More Than Cookies

Cookies have been the focus of coverage of the Directive – the crumbly bad boys consumer should fear if you believe some – but other technologies are covered too, including Flash objects (aka "Flash cookies"). Broadly speaking, if a piece of technology tracks consumers, you need their consent to do so.

Consent Doesn't Mean an Explicit "Yes"

There's that word again. “Consent.” When the UK regulator first announced the date for the Privacy Directive to become law, a flurry of articles debated what "consent" meant. Over time consensus grew – consent meant a drop-down message, pop up or similar mechanism that actively asked consumers to explicitly say "yes" to tracking. Debate followed around whether this had be done for every site visit – it didn't – and whether this applied to cookies required for the site to function – it didn't. The ICO issued guidelines and industry bodies lobbied and debated.

In the weeks leading up to the 26th the ICO stated that analytics cookies would not be a focus of enforcement – and that they were writing to 50 high-volume websites to suggest how they should comply.

Then on the Thursday before the deadline the ICO announced that explicit consent wasn't necessarily required – so all of the pop-ups, drop downs, overlays and other clever mechanisms web designers and marketers had been working on, trying to walk the line between compliance and not damaging conversion rates suddenly looked like they might not have been necessary.

Post-Directive: The Reality

Where does this leave brands today? If your UK site isn't compliant yet, you've probably got a breathing space (unless your traffic levels are high and the ICO's noticed you). So how do you comply?

1. Audit Your Tracking Technologies

The first thing to do is audit the cookies, tags and tracking technologies used on site - including those set through tag containers. Browser extensions like Firecookie for Firebug and Ghostery can help with this alongside the knowledge of developers and webmasters.

It's useful to categorise what you find - what's required for site functionality, what's used for analytics, what's used for tracking advertising etc.

2. Is Implied Consent Enough?

You need to decide if your site's use of tracking requires you to gain explicit consent. The ICO guidance states that if your visitors "understand that their actions will result in cookies being set" and you aren't relying "on the fact that users might have read a privacy policy that is perhaps hard to find or difficult to understand", then implied consent is enough - you don't need to go down the route of putting a message in front of them asking their explicit permission to use tracking technologies.

However, if the data your site collects is sensitive (e.g., health information), then explicit consent could be required (and other data protection laws might apply too).

3. Update Your Privacy Policy With a Tracking Section

Your policy should have a section explaining what tracking technologies are used on the site - or a separate page, which is what many UK websites have done. This should detail what cookies and tracking technologies are used - ideally arranged by category with links to sites offering more information about cookies and any opt-out links from the providers of the technology, like the one Google provides and the industry NAI site.

4. Decide How to Tell Consumers

Even if implied consent is enough, you still need to ensure consumers understand the site uses cookies without wading through a privacy policy. Many sites have done this by adding an information bar across the top of the page or a link in the footer to a "cookie policy". Below are some examples:

5. Keep Your Policy up to Date

As your site changes, the list of tracking technologies in the policy needs updating - so you need to make sure you have the right internal process in place to make sure this happens.

Do Not Track?

You might be wondering at this point if the "Do Not Track" initiative will mean that via browsers offering an easier way of managing (read: blocking) cookies, compliance can be achieved. The ICO's thought of this too, and the answer is "No". The need to comply with the Directive on UK websites – and across the EU – won't go away as browser publishers address privacy concerns at a software level.

Image Credit: Alan Cleaver/Flickr

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Does CityGrid From Citysearch “Answer” The Local SEO Problem?

At one time local startups could reliably count on Google organic traffic to help build their own traffic and brands. Indeed, this is how Yelp gained visibility in its early days. And larger publishers, such as yellow pages sites, have relied heavily on SEO, as well, to drive traffic to their advertisers. However, recently that’s become more difficult with the Map + 7 Pack showing up with greater frequency (roughly 1 in 13 SERPs) on Google.

Not counting the map listings, depending on the query and the user’s PC screen size, there may be only one or two slots available for SEO in a local context. See, for example, the result for “dentist, Los Angeles“:

There’s another challenge for local consumer destinations, especially startups and smaller publishers: selling advertising to small businesses. Without digressing too much, take my word that it’s very difficult to sell ads to small businesses at scale unless you own a large sales force. Self service advertising for this segment has always been more of a dream than a realistic proposition — although ironically Google may find success with some of its new, simplified ad products.

Thus, monetization of local sites has been quite difficult, even for a successful local player such as Yelp. There has always been AdSense but only a few sites with significant traffic have been able to “make a living” off of it; MerchantCircle is one example.

Enter Citysearch’s new local ad exchange/marketplace called CityGrid. This has been in the works for almost three years and it launched at the end of last week. Basically Citysearch is making any and all of its content and advertisers available to third parties (and specifically smaller publishers and mobile developers) via an API. In addition, Internet yellow pages publishers also distribute advertisers through the network.

According to the PR materials accompanying the launch, “In December 2009, CityGrid aggregated more than 500K paying advertisers, enhanced listings and content for 15M businesses, and reached more than 100M unique users across 100 web and mobile sites.” Independent local marketing provider ReachLocal and local-mobile search vendor V-Enable also operate local ad exchanges as well.

In terms of CityGrid, you can see how the same advertiser is presented across a number of participating, partner sites:

BingYellowpages MerchantcircleInsiderpages.comUrbanspoonMySpace LocalCenterdJudys Book

Other independent sales channels, such as Yodle, also operate networks of partner sites that expose their advertisers in a range of places beyond Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. And for several years, the yellow pages publishers have done a more “restrained” version of sharing advertisers and traffic.

CityGrid and the other local networks, to varying degrees, begin to solve several problems:

Getting qualified traffic and leads to local advertisers across a very fragmented local online segmentProviding better monetization for local publishers and developersProviding traffic for publishers that don’t want to rely too heavily on a single source (read: Google)

Citysearch also told me that CityGrid participation doesn’t interfere with AdSense in any way. The ads are content so they’re in the center of the page.

In CityGrid and the other networks, you can see a local monetization “infrastructure” emerging that extends into mobile and helps publishers find qualified traffic for their advertisers, in addition to geotargeted SEM and local SEO, which is becoming much more challenging lately.

7 Time-Saving Google Analytics Custom Reports

Google Analytics Custom Reports can be incredible time savers if you have the right reports. Instead of spending time digging around for important metrics, you can find what you need separated neatly into columns for some analysis that will lead to some actionable insight.

1. Content Efficiency Analysis Report

This report is from none other than the master of Google Analytics, Avinash Kaushik. Brands all over the world are starting to double down on content so it's important to answer questions such as:

What types of content (text, videos, pictures, etc.) perform best?What content delivers the most business value?What content is the most engaging?

The Content Efficiency Analysis Report comes in handy by putting all the key content metrics into one spot.

Here are the columns that the report will pull in:

Page titleEntrancesUnique VisitorsBouncesPageviewsAvg. Time on PagePer Visit Goal ValueGoal CompletionsClick Here To Get the Content Efficiency Analysis Report!2. Keyword Analysis Report

If you're doing SEO, you want to make sure that your optimization efforts are working as intended. Is the right keyword pointing to the right page?

This first tab of this report, Targeting, will break things down by placing the title and keyword side-by-side. The four metrics you'll see are:

Unique VisitorsGoal CompletionsGoal Conversion RateAvg. Page Load Time (sec)

Using the 4 metrics above, you'll be able to judge whether you need to make adjustments to your campaign or not.

The second tab, Engagement, will tell you how effective each page is by looking at the following six metrics:

Unique PageviewsPages/VisitAvg. Time on PageBounce RatePercentage ExitGoal Conversion Rate

The third and final tab, Revenue, will tell you how much money a keyword is bringing you based on 3 metrics:

RevenuePer Visit ValueEcommerce Conversion RateClick Here To Get the Keyword Analysis Report!3. Link Analysis Report

What websites are sending you the best traffic? If you're link building, what links are worth going back for more? Link building isn't all about rankings, it's about increasing traffic and conversions as well. If you find a few gems, it's worth looking into them more.

Here are the columns you'll see with the report:

SourceLanding PageVisitsGoal CompletionsPages/VisitBounce RatePercentage New VisitsClick Here to Get The Link Analysis Report!4. PPC Keywords Report

If you're paying for search traffic, you obviously want to discover high performing keywords. You can then take this data and use it for future SEO campaigns.

Here are the metrics in this report:

VisitsCPCGoal CompletionsCost per Conversion

By breaking things down easily, you'll be able to hone in one which keywords you need to put on hold and which ones you need to pour more cash into.

Get the PPC Keywords Report Here!5. Social Media Report

Ah yes, a report that tells you how different social media channels are performing for you. This is a simple way to figure out where you should consider investing more time into socially.

The social media report looks at:

VisitsSocial ActionsGoal CompletionsGoal Conversion RateGoal ValueGet the Social Media Report Here!6. E-commerce Traffic Report

If you run an e-commerce site, it's important to break down your different traffic channels to see which one performs best. Why is one channel performing better than the other? Is it worth it to invest more in a campaign that is trending upwards? Is your investment with paid advertising effective?

This report answers some of your e-commerce questions by looking at the following metrics:

VisitsPercentage New VisitsBounce RatePages/VisitRevenueAverage ValuePer Visit Value

Get the Ecommerce Traffic Report!

7. Browser Report

This report will tell you how different browsers are performing for your site. You'll immediately see which browsers are your winners and which ones might have problems.

For example, if Chrome and Firefox seem to be doing OK but if Internet Explorer has extremely high bounce rates, you might want to look into Internet Explorer more. After all, Internet Explorer has x percent of the browser share. (research market share for internet explorer)

Get the Browser Report Here!Bonus: Custom Reporting in Google Analytics

Jaime from SEOmoz created a wonderful realtime Google Analytics report. Here's what it looks like:

Image Credit: SEOmoz

This spreadsheet allows you to compare different metrics of your choice with different start and end dates as well. You can easily see how your campaigns are performing from a high level all in the comfort of a clean Google Doc.

Get the Google Analytics Custom Reporting Spreadsheet Here!

Want even more custom reports? Make sure to read Greg Habermann’s top five most used Google Analytics Custom Reports to learn about and get custom reports for Unique Visitors by Page; Conversion by Time of Day; Customer Behavior; Top Converting Landing Pages; and Long Tail Converters.


Google Custom Reports ultimately save you a lot of time and help you make actionable decisions that will help your bottom line. Take a few minutes to set these reports up and explore them. You won't regret it.

What are some useful Google Analytics Custom Reports that you use?

Editor's note: This column originally was published on May 16, 2012, and comes in at No. 5 on our countdown of the 10 most popular Search Engine Watch columns of 2012. As the clock ticks down to 2013, we're celebrating the Best of 2012 by revisiting our most popular columns, as determined by our readers. Enjoy and keep checking back!

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Google No Longer Redirecting Google China To Google Hong Kong

Google announced they are no longer allowed under Chinese law to redirect to The Chinese government told Google that they won’t renew their license to operate in China if they continue to do the redirect. Google’s solution? Create a landing page on, which appears to be a search box, but when clicked on, takes you to Google Hong Kong.

When Google decided to no longer censor search results they went with the approach of redirecting Google China to Google Hong Kong. Like I said, Google would lose their license to operate in China if they continued this practice. Clearly, Google wants to continue operating in China so they are trying this new approach, of a landing page.

As I expressed on my other blog, I feel this type of landing page is deceptive on some level. The landing page is one large graphic that if clicked on, anywhere, takes you to Google Hong Kong. The page actually looks a lot like a Google Search Box and I believe Google designed it this way to encourage people to click in the search box, thinking they can search on Google China, but then ultimately being taken to Google Hong Kong. It seems a bit confusing to me.

Postscript: Bloomberg reported on July 30th that China is partially blocking Google from their users. Google said it impacts the suggest tool and it means Chinese usage has dropped between “10 percent to 66 percent.”