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The Great Usability Debate: Internal vs external testing?

There is an ever-urgent need for companies to both acquire and retain online users, especially in today’s economic environment. Our new Usability and User Experience Trends Briefing highlights this, but which is best for achieving reliable results - internal or external testing?

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Site review: thomascook.com

Travel operator Thomas Cook introduced a number of improvements before Christmas, including an improved holiday search function, and the addition of more multimedia content.

Since I had written a post last year listing ten different problems with the Thomas Cook website which were affecting the user experience, it seems only fair to give credit for some of the improvements that have been made since then.

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Affiliate Census goes live in US and UK

This week we’ve gone live with our 2009 Affiliate Census surveys which are aimed at producing comprehensive overviews of both the US and UK affiliate marketplaces, from the perspective of publishers.

This research follows our inaugural Affiliate Census published in 2007 which gave some much-needed insight into affiliate businesses, the affiliate lifestyle and relationships between publishers and networks.

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Are paid links dead as an SEO strategy?

Instant results are always the most appealing. When it comes to SEO, climbing up the SERPs can take a lot of time, effort and money.

A popular technique amongst some marketers for acquiring the inbound links that search engines like Google love has been to pay for them.

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Report: US retailers upped paid search spend before holidays

Facing perhaps the toughest retail environment in decades, multi-channel retailers in the United States turned to paid search in the run up to the holiday shopping season in an effort to boost sales.

SearchIgnite, a search management provider, today reported that US multi-channel retailers increased their spending on paid search by 12% in Q4 2008 as compared to Q4 2007.

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Cisco launches new hosted social network platform

Two years ago, Cisco raised some eyebrows by purchasing two social networking companies - Five Across and Tribe.net.

The acquisitions were curious because Cisco is best known as a manufacturer of networking and telecommunications equipment.

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Gap.com's single checkout not a good idea after all: report

US clothing retailer Gap.com launched a nice new e-commerce site in June last year, but it seems the decision to integrate its four brands into one checkout function hasn't worked as well as it hoped.

The retailer has designed its site so that users can shop from Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Piperlime, as well as Gap itself, and checkout at the same time, but this has had the unintential effect of undermining perception of the brand, according to Foresee Results.

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Silicon Valley's irrational focus on 'disruptive technologies'

Kevin Kelleher of GigaOM believes that: "2009 may smile on disruptive startups." In his opinion, "There is, however, a way for startups to not only stand out in this recession, but thrive in it: By being as disruptive as possible."

'Disruption' is one of those words Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, VCs and observers have come to love.

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Veoh wins one for user-generated content

In denying a motion for summary judgment requested by Universal Music Group (UMG) against online video service Veoh, a Los Angeles court became the latest court to interpret the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in favor of a web service that offers user-generated video content.

At issue is whether or not Veoh was eligible for the Safe Harbor provisions of the DMCA. Veoh, like YouTube, transcodes videos its users upload into the Flash Video Format (FLV). Universal Music Group argued that this made Veoh ineligible for DMCA protection because this transcoding essentially made Veoh an active party to the copyright infringement alleged.

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Online video continues to grow but video ads to lose luster?

comScore reported yesterday that Americans watched 34% more online videos this past November than they did a year ago in November 2007. This amounts to a whopping 12.7bn videos watched in a single month.

Google properties, which include YouTube, remained the top online video destinations, drawing nearly 98m unique viewers and accounting for just over 40% of videos watched.

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Report: Apple inks deals for DRM-free music, variable pricing on iTunes

Apple has reached a deal with the three largest music labels - Sony BMG, Universal and Warner Music - to offer their music DRM-free on iTunes, according to reports.

As part of the deal, Apple will give the labels something that they have wanted for some time - flexibility on pricing.

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Bid Management Technology: a growing weapon for marketers

As the economic crisis continues, the paid search market is becoming increasingly competitive. Despite the outlook for search marketing looking relatively positive during 2009, managing - and extracting value from - campaigns will become more and more challenging.

Econsultancy's first PPC Bid Management Technology Buyer’s Guide provides a valuable insight into both the suppliers and the tools that currently exist to help marketers manage paid search more effectively. 

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