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July 30, 2011

Facebook ads vs Google Adwords

Anyone who has ever done business online is aware of Google Adwords, the Pay per click (PPC) ads that allow advertisers to bid on search keywords and send highly targeted traffic to their offer page/website.

In the past few months, Facebook has really picked up in terms of user base. With over 500 million users, its a community that no advertiser can ignore. So which advertising platform is better?

The answer is "depends" :-)

It depends on what kind of promotion you plan to launch. Google adwords works excellent for direct sales where advertisers bid on specific keywords and send the highly targeted traffic to a specific product/landing page. It gives quick ROI on the money spent.

On the other hand, Facebook is a community website where people generally come to socialize and not buy. Hence the buyer's "intent to buy" is not present when he/she clicks on your ads on Facebook.

Facebook, however, offers very specific targeting. For example, you can target all Male members above the age of 18 from a specific area with a specific interest. Google Adwords does allow geo-targeting, but it doesn't give filtering based on user age, sex or other preferences.

Although the targeting can be very specific at Facebook, there may not be an intent to purchase your service. For example, you can run your ads to all male members above 18 years of age from a specific area about a local dating website. However, not everyone who sees such ads may be interested in the service. So how do you protect yourself as an advertiser from such clicks? To counter this issue, Facebook also offers CPM (Cost per thousand impressions) based pricing. CPM based advertising also works best in case the promotion is for branding purpose and not intended for sale.

The best campaigns where Facebook ads work good are "Like" campaigns for a Facebook page. A facebook like on a page makes the user a fan of the page. A Facebook fan will return to your page and keep a check on latest updates posted on your Facebook page. Hence the returns on such campaign last even after the ad campaign ends. This is not true for Google adwords where visitors simply click-buy and move on. As soon as the campaign ends, the flow of visitors stop. Unless they have specifically subscribed to your website newsletter or ordered something from your website, there is absolutely no way to get in touch with such users.

Also given that the Facebook system is relatively new, it is still cheaper compared to Google adwords where cost per click on some of the most competitive keywords exceed $30 USD.

In conclusion, each advertising platform has its pros and cons. Google adwords works best in a sales promotion and offers a quick return on investment (ROI) whereas Facebook ads work best on socially aware promotion campaigns where the users have an opportunity to engage with the brand/company. This may or may not result in an immediate sale.

Posted by manish at 12:47 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2011

Bing copies Google search results

Google has accused Bing of copying its search results through an investigative operation called 'Bing Sting'.

Google engineers created fake search results for nonsensical terms. Few weeks later, these results started appearing on Bing.

Interestingly Bing doesn't deny this. It says that their algorithm looks at more than 1000 signals to determine the search results. This includes analyzing the click-stream of its IE toolbar users on what they search and click on Google.

It all started with a search for a misspelling "torsoraphy" where Google showed results for the correct word "tarsorrhaphy". However, the same results appeared on Bing although it could not detect the misspelling.

Google started its own investigation called 'Bing Sting' where they created fake search results for over 100 random nonsensical words. Google gave 20 of its engineers laptops with a fresh copy of windows installed along with Internet Explorer and Bing as the default search engine. Within weeks of searching these 'synthetic queries' on Google via these laptops, the same search results started appearing on Bing as well.

One such term being "hiybbprqag". Microsoft hasn't denied the report but later a spokesperson did say that "We do not copy Google's results!"

Posted by manish at 01:01 AM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2011

RBI forces Paypal to amend user agreement

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has forced Paypal to amend its user agreement for its Indian customers. According to the changed policy, an Indian Paypal user

- cannot send/receive money for personal transactions.
- cannot receive amount greater than $500 USD.
- cannot send money using Paypal balance (only credit cards)
- must withdraw all the paypal balance within 7 days of receipt.

I wonder what is the logic behind enforcing credit card rule for sending payments? May be the Indian banks felt threatened because of the growth of Paypal.

It will also be interesting to see how Paypal manages the 7 days withdrawal rule. They will be flooded with NEFT and cheque withdrawal requests.

With so many changes, this is surely going to impact Paypal's growth and popularity in India. Unfortunately, unless the banking and foreign currency rules in India are modified, this change will remain with us for a foreseeable future.

Posted by manish at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2011

Payoneer suspends services in India

Payoneer announced yesterday that they are temporarily suspending POS (point of sale) transactions in India. Probably the ATM transactions will be suspended pretty soon.

The move comes after the Indian regulators (viz RBI) objected to the use of these cards in India.

Payoneer offers prepaid Mastercard that can be used to withdraw money at ATMs or used in the shops (POS) throughout the world. These cards also work online. It is a popular method of remitting money from various freelancing websites like Elance, Odesk, etc.

It is easy to get a Payoneer card without much documentation. Probably that is the reason why RBI is concerned about these cards and have blocked them in India.

Payoneer says the problem is temporary and that they are working with the authorities to enable the services soon.

This block is similar to the one imposed on Paypal few months back. Paypal resolved the issue with RBI and IncomeTax authorities by making it mandatory to provide PAN (Permanent Account Number) when you open a Paypal account.

Posted by manish at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2007

MTNL ISP blacklisted

MTNL is one of the popular broadband internet provider in the city of Mumbai. They provide broadband connection with speeds upto 2Mbps using ADSL technology that uses the existing PSTN line.

I have been using MTNL at home for last 2 years and except for the pathetic customer service and horrible billing issues, I do not have anything to complain.

But that changed recently!!!

Working with some custom php application to detect blacklisted IPs, I realized that most of the IPs assigned to MTNL are blacklisted at SORBS and other popular blacklist providers.

Realizing the seriousness of situation, I emailed the IP administrator of MTNL Triband service at but as expect, didn't receive any reply.

I called up the customer service number 1504 to just let them know about the issue. But again, as expected, the lady on the phone had no clue about IP blacklisting. She suggested me to contact MTNL local exchange in my area.

The only solution I see for this problem is to pay extra and get a static IP from MTNL or switch ISP :-)

Posted by manish at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2006

phpbb antispam

Off late one of the popular phpBB forums that I run was hit by lots of post spam. Everyday there were at least 20 to 25 fake registrations and 5 to 10 posts. Frustrated with cleaning the board every day, I decided to tweak the phpBB forum and install some mods that will prevent spam posts to be made on my forums. Now the forum receives zero spam registrations or posts. Although the board may not be 100% secure from spammers but I have certainly made their life a little difficult.

Here is a breif summary of the mods that I installed.

First thing that I would recommend to do is install the phpBB Anti-Spam ACP mod. This mod will prevent bots from doing automated registrations on your forums by removing fields you want in registration and profile form until users reach certain requirements. This will block many bots but not all of them.

The next mod that you should install is Johanan's Anti-Spam mod. This mod is also to prevent bots from doing an automated registration on your phpBB forums.

The third mod that you should install is a custom CAPTCHA mod for phpBB. The visual confirmation available with phpBB is weak and can easily be bypassed by most of the spam bots. You can read more about How to add a custom CAPTCHA to phpBB2.

The next mod to install is the Dispatched spam protection mod. This phpBB anti spam mod will protect your board from automatically dispatched spam.

These mods will stop pretty much all the spam bots from registering on your phpBB board.

You may also consider installing Links Rejector as an optional mod if you allow guest posts on your forums. Links Rejector will reject all guest posts that contain links.

These mods made the spam posts from 5-10 previously to 0 on my phpBB forums. These antispam mods are not a 100% full proof way of combating phpBB post spam however it will surely help you reduce the spam menace significantly.

Happy posting!

Posted by manish at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2006

IE 7 worth upgrading to ?

Recently Microsoft decided to include Internet Explorer 7 in essential Windows XP updates. So I decided to upgrade Internet Explorer on my desktop to latest version. IE 7 looks a lot different from IE 6 in terms of skin, organization of all the buttons, menus etc. With IE 7, Microsoft has introduced the much awaited feature of tabbed browsing.

However the most important thing that I like about IE 7 is that it renders my site correctly. I had raised a issue about CSS rendering of IE 6 in the topic and how it failed to display this website correctly. Looks like Microsoft got the CSS/xHTML parsing fixed :-)

The default search goes to, however you can install plugins to search via Google or other popular search engines. Overall I think its worth upgrading from Internet Explorer 6 to Internet Explorer 7.

Posted by manish at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2006

Blue Frog Shut Down?

We all know that Blue Frog is being targetted with DDOS attack for past many days. However a recent article in Washington Post suggests that Blue Frog may be closed forever.

For those who are not aware, Blue Frog was an innovative way of fighting spam. Blue Frog maintained a list of "do not spam" email list. If a spammer sent out email to any email id in this list, they would be bombared with opt-out emails.

However the list was encrypted. A spammer could submit one email id and see if it exists in the list but could not download the entire list. Recently, though, a spammer based in Russia, through the use of dictionary based attacks, was successful in downloading most of the email ids in that list.

The Spammer community then threatened to spam these email ids or worst, send virus, trojans and other malicious programs via email. After weeks of attack and counter-attack, Blue Frog finally decided to give up and shut shop. What a shame!

Posted by manish at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)