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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Lord Yabinghoo

First, an anecdote for those who won’t reach the end of today’s post:

A lady with a proper British accent called to inquire about a quantity of mini-briefcase business card holders. I was relieved that she wasn’t angling for a discount; processing fees and the hassle of preparing the shipment already cut my margin on international sales. No, she just needed help because Sunshop’s shipping estimator was being fussy about accepting her postal code. Rather than work it out over the phone, I asked for her order information so that I could process it offline. Name, please?

“The Earl of A____”

Um. The What of Who now? Yes, I heard correctly: She was the secretary for an English noble. In fact, Lord Arthur A_____ himself picked up the phone to ask some questions about the product and emphasize the need for speedy shipping. He intends to present the mini-briefcases to some visiting members of the House of Lords. “That’s our upper house of Parliament, similar to your Senate”, he explained to this dumb provincial.

I'm ordinarily cold toward the famous and fortunate and especially unimpressed by unearned privilege. I have zero interest in heredity or genealogy. But Lord A_____’s ancestor came over with William the Freaking Conqueror in 1066, for crying out loud – that's just plain interesting. I’d link to his estate’s website if I weren’t uncomfortable with the breach of privacy.

I’ve sold nearly 500 of this flagship product (SKU #16) and am running low again. Every time I reorder them the wholesale price goes up, and a minimum order quantity of 200 pieces makes them a hefty investment. It’s worth it, though. I'll bet I can get another buck for them after their brush with nobility.


Microsoft is assimilating Yahoo Search Marketing into its own lackluster adCenter, which serves their Bing search engine with ads. I know this because Yahoo’s been emailing me about it twice a month with increasing breathlessness. Together, paid and organic Yahoo searches deliver about 10% of my visitors – not a lot, but nothing to walk away from, either. I guess Yahoo will still be a search engine. I think it will be technologically identical to MS’s Bing. But MS will start calling the advertising shots next month. Presumably capitalists behind the scenes have this all figured out. For me, the name on my charge bill will change and I need to learn a new interface to manage my little campaigns.

Dismayed by my foot-dragging, Yahoo started robo-calling me. I hate to admit it, but it worked. I finally tackled the 85 compatibility problems on their list just to stop those irritating calls. First I deleted such esoteric line items as “Geo-targeting, Network Distribution, Demographic Bidding, and Ad Scheduling will not be transition to adCenter. You need to set these up in your adCenter account” and “This attribute will not be imported into adCenter. In adCenter, the concept of Alt text more accurately corresponds to {Param2}.” By the gods, this is pure boredom.

Forty remaining warnings were about ads that don’t fit adCenter’s tighter size limit. I deleted a few old keyword groups and truncated a few ads. The drudgery finally out of the way, I hit some minor snags when I went to adCenter to complete the migration. Nothing worth relating here, though.

Can the merged Bing/Yahoo (Yahbing? Binghoo?) give Google a run for its money (or rather, for my money and yours)? It’s hard to imagine them denting Google’s 75% market share, but one dismisses MS at one’s peril. Maybe this merger of numbers two and three will threaten Google’s near-monopoly.

Now I just sit back and wait for new hordes of shoppers to storm the castle.

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