Archive for the ‘marketing’ category

Farewell, Sergei Mitrofanov


Farewell, my dear friend Sergei. Taken far too soon.

Sergei trying to corral us for a photograph in London in 2015.

I’m pretty upset by this so rather than write a fresh tribute (which I will have to do in time in an official capacity), I’m going to quote from what I wrote to his widow, Ekaterina, with appropriate edits: ‘I am so deeply saddened by this terrible news since I found out on Wednesday night. Sergei was a great friend, colleague and ally. We have known each other since 2006 and I have always found him warm, helpful, and kind. Outside of Medinge Group he even helped another colleague of mine with navigating Russia’s complex tourist visas! Even today I was looking for the name of a computer program in order to read some messages and realized that Sergei was the one who put me on to it! What will we do without Sergei’s social media posts hashtagging #Medinge to keep us all informed?

‘Since I have further to travel to visit friends in Europe, the last time I saw Sergei in person was in 2015 and I truly wish that that was not the final time.

‘… Please know Sergei was loved the world over and it was a blessing to have known him.’

He is survived by his wife and their two daughters.

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Posted in branding, general, marketing, Sweden | No Comments »

Bing is definitely very broken, and it’s hurting Duck Duck Go


The last few days have been about ‘How awesome is Mojeek?’ and ‘How shit is Bing?’

I’m finding great search results from Mojeek, and as a site search for Lucire, it’s absolutely brilliant. Blows Duck Duck Go (Bing with privacy) away, even back when DDG had a reasonably comprehensive index of our pages (before the HTTPS switch). I don’t have to subject anyone to Google tracking, and I didn’t have the hassle of installing an internal search ourselves.

Cisene, who I met via Mastodon, very helpfully suggested on that social network that I submit site maps for the Lucire website as that would take a reasonably short time to remedy Bing’s ills. I’ve never had to do them for Google or Mojeek: their spiders work as they have always done since the dawn of search engines. For some reason, Bing needs its hand held if I want it to have thousands of pages again, as it did earlier this year.

One thing I found curious with Bing is its insistence, in a site search, to place a page that we have not linked to since 2005 at the very top. Of course I could delete the page or program in a forwarder, or make a 301, but I was also once told that dead links and forwarders were bad things for search engines. Our ‘About’ page also ranks highly in all search engines, despite not being linked to in anything we’ve done in over 15 years as well.

But where’s the home page? Happily, after submitting site maps, Bing’s index of our pages went from 10 to a whopping 55, and the home page appeared for the first time in a search:


‘It’s an improvement,’ I thought, though the search engine is still massively handicapped compared to where it was at the start of 2022.

Checking on Bing Webmaster Tools to see where things were, I was curious to see it claim that it could not crawl or index our home page though it was discovered in 2018:


But you just crawled and indexed it. Which is it?

The excuses this time (as Big Tech people love to make stuff that blames users) are that there are no <H1> tags (I’ve got news for you, Bing: we don’t use them, and why should we? There was never any rule that stated that headlines must be between them, and no one else seems to care) and that the description is too long (again, it was fine for you before—and actually you’ve just shown that it is fine).

They aren’t in the business of search though, as their explanations reveal. It’s seach:

Goodness knows how many years that’s been there, ignored.

It’s all so slap-dash and unprofessional, and as Duck Duck Go search results are based on Bing’s, I’m going to have to stop recommending it. Fortunately, I found Mojeek at the perfect time.

I’m also discovering that maybe Bing can no longer handle more than 50-odd pages per site anyway, which, of course, makes it useless as an engine that powers a site search. (Like I keep saying, the defunct Excite in the 1990s could do better. Any search engine from those days could spider and index more effectively.) It would be in line with other Microsoft products, such as Notepad, where the software giant now prevents us from typing £ or €, except, presumably, people from the countries where those are the common, keyboard-accessible currency symbols. Want to write Cæsar drinks Nescafé? You can try, but the diphthong and é will be missing.

Today I searched on Bing. Now, we never switched Autocade to HTTPS. After how all our sites fell, would you risk it? This site is dependent on search-engine traffic.

And here are the number of pages each search engine brings up for a site search.
Google: 4,080
Mojeek: 3,348
Bing: 51
Duck Duck Go: 50
Brave: 17 (plus 4 underneath first entry)

So I can’t keep blaming the switch to HTTPS, though our troubles with all search engines I knew of then began around this time. Autocade still slipped in Bing despite no down time; we went to a newer Mediawiki version, but that was about it. Everything progressed as it always did.

Google eventually allowed things to recover (for the most part) with the exception of our company website (which rose up to 13th before dropping to 26th today), Mojeek never even had an issue to begin with, but Bing and Duck Duck Go don’t link to Jack Yan & Associates’ website till after the 40th position.

So where are we now with the sites I last looked at?
Number of results for
Google: 6,250
Mojeek: 3,563
Bing: 53
Duck Duck Go: 53
Brave: 15 (plus 4 underneath first entry)
Number of results for
Google: 1,860
Mojeek: 438
Duck Duck Go: 54
Bing: 43
Brave: 13 (plus 4 underneath first entry)
Number of results for
Google: 743
Mojeek: 296
Bing: 49
Duck Duck Go: 49
Brave: 20

I honestly think Bing is broken.

Just as well no one I know uses it, but quite a number of people do opt for Duck Duck Go, because of the work it’s done in promoting privacy. I still admire them for this stance. But as many of you know, it sources its results from Bing, so if one is broken, both will be. And that’s a darned shame as I almost hit 12 years of having Duck Duck Go as my default (from August 2010 or thereabouts).

All the more reason to retain Mojeek as my default search engine.

Will I bother looking any more into Bing? Probably not, but how do I convince all those I recommended Duck Duck Go to to check out Mojeek?

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Posted in internet, marketing, publishing, technology, USA | 4 Comments »

Rand Fishkin’s ‘Something is Rotten in Online Advertising’


I’ve been meaning to link Rand Fishkin’s ‘Something is Rotten in Online Advertising’ for some time, so here it is.

He writes, in his second and third paragraphs (links in original):

Where to even begin… Should we start with the upcoming loss of third-party cookies? The bizarre Google & Facebook duopoly teamup against anti-trust action? The rise of online ads as a money laundering & terrorist-funding tactic? Or maybe we should talk about brands’ ever-shrinking ability to attribute ad clicks. Hundreds of millions in provable ad fraud. Disturbing privacy issues that remain unaffected by GDPR or other government efforts.

No wonder a lot of savvy people believe adtech and the entire online advertising industry are due for a subprime-mortgage-style reckoning.

It’s a well written piece, covering ad fraud, the incentivization of ad fraud, and real-world examples, including this:

The world’s biggest con continues. The con artists don’t need to do three-card Monte any more. They can just get into ad tech. Rand’s piece is well worth a read.

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If corporate America says it, it’s probably untrue


Le dernier.
I see the Le Snak range has now left us, after its US owner PepsiCo cited a lack of demand. I call bullshit, since during 2021 it was becoming increasingly difficult to find them on the shelves. Throttling distribution is not the same as a lack of demand, something you see time and time again with corporate claptrap.

It’s like the myth that New Zealanders all prefer automatic transmissions. No, not supplying manuals will inevitably force people to change. Has the industry done a survey as I have? Last time I conducted one, in the 2010s, we were still running 50–50, with a lot of people saying, ‘I prefer a manual, but I had no choice but to buy an automatic.’

Ford is a useful example of US companies citing reduced demand but doing things behind the scenes to ensure it. The line that no one was buying big cars saw to the end of the road for the Australian Falcon and the closure of its Broadmeadows plant. Did any of you see any advertising for the Falcon leading up to that? Or see many Falcons on dealer lots? It seems to me that a corporate decision had been made, and steps taken to guarantee an outcome. Throttle the distribution (‘We’re out of stock’) and of course demand falls.

Get your tape measures out, and you’ll find the Falcon was smaller than the Mondeo (which at that point was still selling) on key measures other than overall length and, presumably, boot volume. The two-litre Ecoboost Falcon with its rear-wheel drive was promoted with all the energy of a damp squid, but it had all the ingredients for success as a decent-handling sedan. But Broadmeadows was an inefficient plant, from what I understand (from hearsay), and bringing it up to speed would have cost more than a bunch of Pinto lawsuits. ‘But there’s no demand for what it builds anyway!’ they cry. Then they can justify the closure.

Go back to the 1990s and the same thing happened with Ford’s Contour and Mystique twins in the US. People were buying BMW 3-series in droves, cars the same size as the Contour. But Ford claimed there was no demand, leading to its US cancellation after the 2000 model year. Reality: I say the Dearborn fiefdom didn’t like the fact the Contour was part of a world-car project (which gave us the original Mondeo) led by Ford’s Köln fiefdom. Not-invented-here killed the Contour, and a relative lack of promotion also guaranteed its fate. (Ford would wind up contesting the segment again later in the 2000s with the Fusion and Milan, but put far more effort into promoting them since they were US-led programmes. I actually saw advertising for them in US magazines! I saw a Milan in Manhattan with Mercury encouraging us to try it out!)

If you take the line that anything a big US firm utters is an utter lie, it keeps you in good stead. Use that approach with Facebook, for instance, and you’ll find things make sense more often than not. And of course we all knew what Elon Musk meant when he said he wanted to buy Twitter.

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Posted in business, culture, marketing, New Zealand, USA | No Comments »

Kissing that Disqus advertising money goodbye (webmasters beware)


I’m going to have to write off what Disqus owes us. No response to this thread, and no response to a DM I sent at their request.

I assume it’s a bit like Amazon, where they just ignore you regardless of what you’ve actually earned.

I think the rule is if it’s a big US tech firm, they’re going to BS you—especially when it comes to money.

Maybe it’s time to threaten them as I did with Twitter?

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Posted in business, internet, marketing, technology, USA | No Comments »

July 2022 gallery


Here are July 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.

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Posted in cars, culture, design, France, gallery, interests, marketing, media, politics, publishing, technology, UK, USA | No Comments »

Pirate sites, content mills and splogs exist because of Google


In chatting to Alexandra Wolfe on Mastodon about the previous post, I had to draw a sombre conclusion. If it weren’t for Google, there’d be no incentive to do content mills or splogs.

I replied: ‘People really are that stupid, and itʼs all thanks to Google. Google doesn’t care about ad fraud, and anyone can be a Google publisher. So scammers set up fake sites, they have a script trawling Google News for stories, and they have another script that rewrites the stories, replacing words with synonyms. Google then pays them [for the ads they have on their sites]. Every now and then they get someone like me who tries to look after our crew.’

Google is the biggest ad tech operator out there. And over the years, I’ve seen them include splogs in Google News, which once was reserved only for legitimate news websites. And when we were hacked in 2013, the injected code looked to me like Google Adsense code. You could just see this develop in the 2000s with Blogger, and it’s only worsened.

Have a read of this piece, which quotes extensively from Bob Hoffman, and tell me that Google doesn’t know this is happening.

Google is part of the problem but as long as they keep getting rich off it, what motive do they have to change?

Speaking of ad fraud, Bob Hoffman’s last couple of newsletters mentions the Association of National Advertisers, who reported that ad fraud would cost advertisers $120 milliard this year. Conveniently enough for the industry, the ANA’s newsletter has since disappeared.
I still haven’t got into programmatic or header bidding or all the new buzzwords in online advertising, because I don’t understand them. And as it’s so murky, and there’s already so much fraud out there, why join in? Better buying simple ads directly with websites the old-fashioned way, since (again from Hoffman, in the link above):

Buying directly from quality publishers increases the productivity of display advertising by at least seven times and perhaps as much as 27 times compared to buying through a programmatic exchange.

Everyone wins.


Ad tech drives money to the worst online publishers. Ad tech’s value proposition is this: we will find you the highest quality eyeballs at the cheapest possible locations. Ad tech can do this because your web browser and mobile platform are vulnerable to a problem called ‘data leakage’ where your activity on a trusted site is revealed to other companies … If you’re a quality online publisher, ad tech is stealing money from you by following your valuable audience to the crappiest website they can be found on, and serving them ads there instead of on your site.

In other words, Google et al have an incentive to give ads to sploggers, who are getting rich off the backs of legitimate, quality publishers. And as to the intermediaries, I give you Bob Hoffman again, here.

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Send out warmth, get it back


I’ve had a nice resolution after reaching out to FashioNZ over their Instagram tagline and a claim made on their website. There was a delay in their response due to the site being sold to its fifth owners (I must be out of touch, as I never knew who the second and third were!), but they addressed all my points, saying that they cared about journalistic integrity, and wrote to me in as friendly a way as I did to them. The tagline has already been changed, and I understand that they’ll get on to the rest.

To be extra-careful, I had two colleagues in Auckland who knew the (outgoing) publisher read through my email to make sure I was being as collegial as possible, and they gave me the all-clear.

I contrast this to an email I received last year, from a US designer who shall remain nameless.

They had asked for an article to be removed from Lucire but did not explain why. I said I would if we had written something factually wrong, or misrepresented them.

No, it wasn’t that: after some probing, they revealed that they just didn’t like our photo of the designer’s work appearing so high up in Google Images. Reading between the lines, they wanted to dominate the search results and were irritated that we were messing it up.

I noted that we were contacted by their firm’s PR people (and before I made that claim, I looked back through my email archives from the 2000s to confirm this—it was a PR firm in their own state, and yes, it was an item published that long ago), to which they countered that they had never heard of us prior to this and would not have issued us the press release. Folks, I have the email.

The whole thing was combative from the get-go, and after they suggested I was a liar, they earned their whole company a block on our email system.

What a strange way for their marketing person to try to get something they wanted, to call the person you’re asking a favour of a liar. I submit that they don’t know much about marketing. And in this country, we have such a thing as freedom of the press.

They have one of our editors’ phone numbers so they can talk to her if they wish—though I had suggested their boss talk directly to me since I wasn’t going to deal with rude underlings. The boss never called.

I won’t name these folks since I consider the dialogue confidential, but sometimes it’s tempting to say, ‘**** may be a famous designer, but they have really shit people working for them.’

There’s a right way and a wrong way to correspond, and I’m glad that a misspent youth, reading some of my father’s Pitman guides, put me on a better track.

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Posted in business, culture, internet, marketing, New Zealand, USA | No Comments »

June 2022 gallery


Here are June 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.


Most of these are self-explanatory, though the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper page with Panos Papadopoulos gets a mention. Panos name-drops me about his autobiography.

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Posted in branding, cars, culture, gallery, humour, interests, internet, marketing, politics, TV, UK, USA | No Comments »

Bing Webmaster Tools: how to make sure you vanish from a search engine completely


With my personal site and company site—both once numbers one and two for a search for my name—having disappeared from Bing and others since we switched to HTTPS, I decided I would relent and sign up to Bing Webmaster Tools. Surely, like Google Webmaster Tools, this would make sure that a site was spidered and we’d see some stats?

Once again, the opposite to conventional internet wisdom occurred. Both sites disappeared from Bing altogether.

I even went and shortened the titles in the meta tags, so that this site is now a boring (and a bit tossy) ‘Jack Yan—official site’, and the business is just ‘Jack Yan & Associates, Creating Harmony’.

Just as well hardly anyone uses Bing then.

Things have improved at Google after two months, with this personal site at number two, after Wikipedia (still disappointing, I must say) and the business at 15th (very disappointing, given that it’s been at that domain since 1995).

Surely my personal and work sites are what people are really looking for when they feed in my name?

The wisdom still seems to be to not adopt HTTPS if you want to retain your positions in the search engines. Do the opposite to what technologists tell you.
Meanwhile, Vivaldi seems to have overcome its bug where it shuts down the moment you click inside a form field. Version 5.3 has been quite stable so far, after a day, so I’ve relegated Opera GX to back-up again. I prefer Vivaldi’s screenshot process, and the fact it lets me choose from the correct directory (the last used) when I want to upload a file. Tiny, practical things.

Big thanks to the developers at Opera for a very robust browser, though it should be noted that both have problems accessing links at Paypal (below).

We’ll see how long I last back on Vivaldi, but good on them for listening to the community and getting rid of that serious bug.

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