Blog Insight

Maintaining a blog is a hobby of mine. It allows me to express my thoughts on any topic I chose in a public forum, although, fully knowing that 90% of thus "public" are friends and family.

The other 10% are randoms... Usually stumbling upon my blog because they Googled a topic that I've written about. An example - in Septemeber I wrote about "Answer Tones" and received 50 visitors from that post...(I was on the first results page then - but now on the 3rd page when you google that term)

The way I know this is because I use an analytics program. It tells me things like how many visitors I get, where they come from, etc.

Anyway, some pretty funny/interesting insight I discovered last week...

My buddy Jared Margulies started a new job about 3 weeks ago. I have twice included his name (now 3 times) in posts. In looking at the blog analytics data - over the last 3 weeks - over 15 visitors came to my blog by Googling his name. I instantly emailed Jared and said - "Hey - looks like people at your new company are checking you out.." (Sorry ladies - if you clicked on my blog, you most likely found the post on his wedding weekend)

Just thought this was interesting ... oh ... and if you've found this post by Googling Jared's name.... you're busted! (well - not really - cuz I have no idea who you are - just how many of you there are)


Iron Man

No - this isn't my upcoming Halloween Costume... It's what our good friend Bryan Spellberg can now be characterized as.

Bryan, (as many of you will come to know as the "Bridesman" in the next few months) is crazy dedicated to fitness training. And by crazy dedicated - I'm talking about carving out time in between work and fatherhood to voluntarily put his body through daily over-drive. The guy does more exercise in his Monday morning warm-up, then I do in a month!

For those that don't know, an Iron Man competition is pretty much the end-all, be-all for "fitness freaks" like Bryan. It's a tri-athlon of freakish distances. Bryan conquered the Iron Man in Northern Florida this past Saturday. (Of important note - If you watched Donovan McNabb puke during the Tampa Bay game on Sunday due to the heat - That is where Bryan did this thing - near Tampa!!) In case you are unaware of what's involved in this event - here's how it goes (obviously as told to me by others). Start of the day (and seeing the sun-rise) by swimming 2.4 miles! 2.4 miles doesn't seem like a lot - but it's 155 laps in an Olympic style pool. (I do 2 laps and I'm huffing and puffin!!)

After you do this beyond difficult swim in the ocean or lake (and not in an easy, tame pool) - you race to your bike and pedal 112 miles! For a frame of reference - the distance from New York City to Philadelphia, PA is about 100 miles... that's a 2 hour car ride - plus 20 more miles!!

So after that.... you do something that people train YEARS for. You run a marathon. 26.2 miles! You run watching the sun set, reminding yourself of how you started the day by watching the sun rise. The sun rise and sun set reference were provided by Shelby, Bryan's wife, who was obviously there with him - and keeping Amy and I up-to-date on his progress. I thought it was crazy to think about how it would feel to spend the entire day torturing your body - and having the good ol fashion sun reminding you of that as your trying to finish.

Bryan is amazing and has surrounded himself with solely positive-minded people. In the few years that I've known him (and Amy can confirm this was the case pre-BG), his family has always been his number one fan. In fact - The Sun-Sentinel (leading South Florida newspaper) picked up on this and did a full page story yesterday on how his sister, Michelle, was going to run the marathon portion with him. It was her first ever marathon - so congrats Michelle!
Here is the interview of them two, although the large color photo of them is not online. (oh - and it's Spellberg - and not Speelberg).

So, Bryan is a loyal Blog reader - and I'm hoping after he spends the week in pools of ice and hot tubs - he'll answer some questions I have in the comments section:
1) What were your times in each event?
2) What do you do about going to the bathroom?
3) Is the Iron Man something you can now cross off the list - or are you hungry for more?

In closing, Bryan, Amy and I are beyond proud of you. We are wishing you a painless recovery. Congrats on kicking the crap out of the Iron Man!


More Rational Exuberance? NO!

I’ve read several articles and had a lot of conversations with folks over the past week about the Google-YouTube merger. As many of you know – I certainly drink the kool-aid of my current employer – so please take this into consideration when reading this…

The large dollar amounts that are being used to purchase companies that are only modestly revenue generating – has spurned some people to ask the question – “is it happening again”? Is there another “bubble” we are about to create that is bound to burst?

Putting the YouTube purchase pricetag on hold for a moment – I am very sensitive of the aura of the “dot-com bust.” The industry I have worked in for about 8 years now has had it’s ups and downs … but certainly much more impact on the perception of the industry during the “down” portion. Getting recognition amongst (most importantly) traditional advertisers has taken time. It was so easy for an old school marketer to shrug off the concept of changing his/her marketing strategy due to the very public image issue.

So when so-called respected journalists write things that insinuate that it’s round 2 of the “Dot-Bomb era” – I get annoyed.

So what is different now? It’s very simple. Monetization exists and is understood. Sure, there is definitely a lot of “future potential” still baked into the equation – but in what business venture is vision non-existent?

In earlier years (1999/2000) the reason why the “Dot-Com bust’ happened was because the people spending the money (Wall Street) treated it like a wave …People in the board rooms didn’t understand the realistic aspect of internet advertising.

Fast forward 7 years - and it's a different story. Although the industry still has leaps to grow and evolve, it (in large part to Google and other monetization engines) has figured out a model on how to monetize eyeballs and content.

So - more on this as it matures - but please don't think Google buying YouTube for $1.65 Billion is a sign that the internet marketing industry is about to take two steps backwards. I think that after testing and learning - it will actually lead to some big steps forward in Ad Formats... Stay tuned.


Getting around NYC during the day

For the most part, Google makes it so I don't have to leave the NY office very often. They feed me 3 meals if I want and they offer the latest technology available so I can communicate with customers and co-workers.

There are times, though, when I find myself traveling through New York City during the day on a weekday. On these days, punctuality usually means more than on the weekends. Whether I'm traveling to a doctor's appointment, client meeting, or running errands -- time is always "of the essence."

Since our offices moved downtown -- I've found it much more difficult to efficiently travel during the day. This is because the only Subway stop that is near my office is the Blue line (A,C,E). When we were in Times Square - there was a plethora of options.

Anyhow - the Subway is the ONLY way to navigate the city during a work-day with any kind of sanity. Cabs, although often times viewed as "easier", are not at these times. The traffic going in almost any direction is horrific. So not only do you spend 6 times more to take a cab - but you're almost guaranteed to be late. And yes - that is bad - but I think the worst part about all this is the stress. Nothing compares to the frustration of sitting in the back of a taxi and the only thing you see in front of you is car gridlock -- and the only things you hear are cars honking loudly and your driver talking in another language on his cell phone.

And to top it all off -- the extremely long 30 minutes ride (that could be maybe 2 miles), seems like an hour.

When you take the subway - you may have to exert more energy and it may not take you that much of a difference in time -- but it is such less stress. The cars are typically not too crowded and there is usually not train traffic either.

So in conclusion -- if traveling through Manhattan during a work day -- either use the subway or don't even bother leaving your office.


Shop.org Conference

The Annual Summit of Shop.org starts today at the Hilton in New York City. For any retailers looking to hear about Search Engine Marketing tips - I will be on a panel this week with experts from Yahoo and MSN. I'm looking forward to it because over 1,600 people have registered for the conference already.

For non-retailers (ie friends and family) I appreciate support, but the conference charges all attendees so I'll be happy to give a private session on SEM Tips afterwards. ;)

Also - if you go on the site and look at my mug shot -- no need to tell me I need a new picture. I am well aware of the fact (especially after the first 10 comments from co-workers).


Gas Price Resource

Seeing as if 50% of my blog readership is from New York City (in which owning a car is rare), and another 2% from outside the US (Hola Manu), I don't know how relevant this post will be for everyone... however... I stumbled upon a cool site this morning (it's an Google AdSense partner) and I wanted to share: GasBuddy.

GasBuddy lists updated gas prices and trends by city and state.

As an example, Florida (where about 20% of my blog readership occurs) is the 31st ranked state in terms of cheapest gas at an average of $2.27 per gallon. It appears, though, that South Florida is bringing this average state price up, as Miami is averaging $2.37 per gallon.

Anyway - just thought the site/information was interesting and I wanted to share.


My Email System and Philosophy

Recently – more and more people are getting Gmail Addresses. Of course, being employed by the company that maintains this service – I hear a lot of unsolicited feedback on it.

Certainly, the majority of this feedback is positive – but not all.

Spam is increasing” is a popular one – but most of the time – people are talking about their Spam folders (which users never even see) are getting more and more mail in them. This is actually a good thing! Anyway – the cases of Spam making it’s way through Gmail filters is growing as well – which brings me to my 2006 Email philosophy.

This philosophy incorporates 3 active email accounts:

1) For Work – I only give this out to business-related contacts. Today – this is also my “on the go” or Blackberry email …

2) For Friends and Family – I use my Gmail account to email with friends and family. Seeing that Spam is annoying under this context, I’ve put a period in my email username (xxx.xxx@gmail.com) as I’ve been told this helps limit Spam. Those folks who prefer an easy-to-remember address (asmith@gmail.com) will apparently receive much more Spam that those that have different/unique names….

3) For Everything Else – Credit Card Bills, Airline confirmation, Fantasy Sports, Comments on this blog, etc. I don’t check this account every day, but a few times a week keeps me up-to-date.

Thus far – this system has worked well for me – and I recommend it to everyone. I’m assuming in years to come, my system may change, but right now, It keeps my communications organized and helps limit Spam in the cases where it’s most annoying. Speaking of annoying – those folks who know all 3 of my addresses – please don’t email all 3 at once. Please use the system above. Thanks. ;)