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Online shopping boosts October retail sales figures

UK retail sales were higher than expected in October, with sales boosted by the growth in online shopping.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the volume of retail sales increased by 0.9% in October, higher than analysts’ predictions of 0.3%. This represents the biggest monthly rise since November last year.


Swedish startup raises $5.1 million for image search technology

Polar Rose, a startup based in Malmö, Sweden, has announced the receipt of $5.1 million from Nordic Venture Partners for its facial recognition and visual search technology.

Polar Rose’s Bloom technology uses a combination of automatic facial recognition with 3D modelling to look for photos on the Internet. In addition,  Polar Rose’s image search will allow users to tag photos to improve recognition.


One in four web users own digital players

Research from comScore has detailed the habits of US digital music player owners, finding that they are likely to have an above-average income, and thus represent an attractive target for electronics marketers.

These consumers are more tech-savvy than the average surfer, and were found to be fans of online shopping - 49% believe online is the best way to shop, while 94% had made online purchases in the past six months.


Netscape to expand its paid navigator system

Jason Calacanis has announced the hiring of more Netscape ‘Navigators’, and revealed he may spend up to $2.4m a year on more user-generated content for the bookmarking site.

Netscape now employs 23 of these navigators on what Calacanis calls a ‘very part-time’ basis, paying them $12,000 a year each to submit stories, lead discussions and generally do housekeeping tasks, such as closing down duplicate stories and eliminating spam comments.


Workers like to shop online on Friday lunchtimes

New research from the Royal Mail suggests that, for those employees who like to do their online shopping from work, Friday lunchtime is the most popular time.

Of those online shoppers who have internet access at work, 65% are likely to buy during the week - and Friday afternoon at 1pm is the most popular time for one in eight.


New paid search guide for client teams and agencies

We've just published our mega-comprehensive Paid Search Marketing (PPC) Best Practice Guide, which is going to help a lot of you to finesse your PPC strategies.


New local shopping search engine launches in the UK

AskTheLocal is a new shopping search engine that allows users to search for products in their local area, with the intention of directing customers to the offline - rather than online - store.

The site aims to emulate the success in the US of sites like ShopLocal.com, which reached 1.8 million visits per month just a year after its launch in August 2004.

We caught up with AskTheLocal co-founder Peter Abrahamson to ask a few questions about the new site...


Are social news sites like Digg 'better' than Google News?

Digg logo Muhammad Saleem at The Mu Life wrote an article last week claiming that social media is more effective at disseminating news than Google News.

Muhammad’s article, ‘Why Socially Driven News is Better’ used the news of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation as an example of social media beating Google News to a major story.

Interesting argument, but it doesn't stand up...


YouTube threatens to sue TechCrunch on copyright concerns

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch has been hit with a cease and desist order by lawyers acting on behalf on YouTube.

His 'crime' was to post an article advising readers how to download videos from YouTube to an iPod, or a computer’s hard drive. Arrington had checked YouTube’s terms of use before posting this, and found nothing in there to prevent this.

Or so they thought…


Search engines aim to ease indexing process

Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft are teaming up to develop a unified way for webmasters to update their crawlers.

The three search giants will support a new version of the Sitemaps protocol, which was first released by Google in June last year.

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Understanding different types of keyphrases for PPC success

The majority of search queries consist of more than word - over the past decade searchers have gradually increased the amount of words per query, from 1.2 in 1998 to 3.3 in 2006.

Partly, this is because there is more noise to cut through on search engines like Google and Yahoo. But it is also about savvier searchers, finessing their query to return the most relevant results.

If you are running paid search marketing campaigns you need to understand how search queries indicate propensity to convert, and customer value.

Figuring this out can make a big difference to your return on investment from PPC campaigns...


Interview with AllPeers founders Cedric Maloux and Matt Gertner

Skype founder Niklas Zennström recently named AllPeers among Europe’s four most innovative tech start-ups - and you can't really argue with him.

Launched at the end of August after four years of development work, AllPeers’ private P2P platform allows users to share videos, photos, webpages and other paraphernalia with their family and friends.

But next year, it also intends to expand its technology to allow files to be shared publicly, and to offer content creators a chance to earn money through micro-payments, rather than through advertising.

We met up with CEO Cedric Maloux and CTO Matt Gertner to find out more.