Interview with Stephen Noton from Adverted:
Brooke: I’m Brooke Schumacher from E Marketing Talk Show and we’re going to be talking with Stephenn Noton who's with Adverted and based out of Singapore. Let's start off by telling your relationship with Google and where they are now.
Stephen: Well, right now, in Beijing there are 80 employees there expanding into their own building to 8 floors and 200 employees. And so 800 and they’re really looking into all the engineering and all the controlled ads, both on Adsense and Adwords will go through the China, Beijing office. Right now the control of the database, the engineers are still in the US, there’s some engineers in Beijing, but not enough to cope with all the improvements on the database. So they’re going to move all that to China.
Brooke: Servers and everything as well?
Stephen: Yeah, all the servers and equipment and controls in the Beijing regions. All the approvals of Adwords and Adsense are all done here locally in China. Because the US market cannot do it in all different languages. They also approve Chinese ads that are targeting the US so, they do it here. So it’s not just targeting China it’s just any Chinese fixed characters will actually be created in the office here.
Brooke: And they go through their approval process and reject misspelled words and things like that?
Stephen: Yeah, Yeah exactly. You know, I’m sure we all have that experience with typos.
Brooke: With your close connections of the search marketing industry in Asia, tell us more about what you learned about Google’s filter for organic search engine results that they’ve been required to put on by the Chinese government to limit access to certain sites and information.
Stephen: We didn’t even know everything about it. And 30 minutes with talking to Google we were trying to get more information about the filters. So the filters in China, there are 2 filters that are set up: one at Google, and one at the government level. The government level is the actual real filter, the Google if you do a search in Google for, maybe, some term that they don’t want you to find, they’ll actually block Google. They’ll actually will deny, and turn that IP off at the government level for 10-15 minutes so that you can’t react with Google. They filter the results, where as Google itself removes websites from Google’s database.
Brooke: So, for the actual visitor, what does it look like?
Stephen: So the visitor, if they remove the result, they will just never see the result that’s in Google if they’re looking for something that’s been removed at Google. Those are maybe certain websites that the government finds that is not appropriate. But then the government does one extra step, which is use Google to search for… to search for their underground movement. Falun Gong? If you search for something like that in Google in China, you’ll get an error page, the page doesn’t exist and you can’t go back to Google. It really won’t let you back. You go to Google.com it’s gone. The government will then shut your access to Google off between 10-15 minutes. And Google, what happens at their office, is that they type in a term, they use a static IP, their office totally gets shut off for like 10-15 minutes because they don’t control it, the government controls it.
Brooke: Oh, so the office can’t even interact with it.
Stephen: Yeah, it just complete... complete shut off.
Brooke: And that’s if one user does that.
Stephen: Well, everybody has an IP and they shut down that IP.
Brooke: But otherwise, there would just be results that are filtered out. Is there any message that gets displayed in the search results itself?
Stephen: No. They don’t display, they don’t not like the DMCA notices where they actually tell the user that their results have been filtered. Like in the digital mode they will tell the user that they have been filtered, but on this one they don’t. They don’t have enough engineers to put all those filters in place, but they are moving all that control back to manage and the first thing they’re trying to do is to involve engineer control. Because the database now is actually separated from the US. So they fully control the database in China.
Brooke: It’s more about which websites they’re pulling, they’re not like pulling the search itself like you can’t search under these terms? Or are they doing both?
Stephen: Well, the government does the search term…
Brooke: Okay, so the government does they search terms, and they do more the websites. And they go in… I think you mentioned this before, going in and actually searching all the time for sites that would not be allowed in the results right?
Stephen: That’s correct. So, they’re going in there and they’re sifting out sites that contain information based on a list that not been disclosed to us of all the terminology that the government… it’s that the government actually goes in and says, “These are the things that we don’t want showing up.” And then Google then filters results based on those terms.
Brooke: And they manually do that. It is a kind of manual process? Is that right?
Stephen: Yeah, so it’s automatically searched for and manually removed. So it is still a process they have to go through. But that’s for the terms. So for me a result page would be 10 results and in the US we get 10 results also but different results because they have been removed. But what the government now does is if you search for a certain term that they don’t want you to know anything about they just… turn Google off.
Brooke: What kind of topics are we talking about? Are we actually talking about like… porn sites? Terrorist groups? Rebel groups?
Stephen: I think I did like “Sex China” and a bunch of things and I got my Google turned off. I couldn’t understand what was going on, but that’s what they came out and said. This is what happens the government will actually come and turn Google off for 10-15 minutes.
Brooke: So anything pornographic they actually turn it off. Ok.
Stephen: I don’t know about anything, but I know that term. So we could do that thing right now, I don’t’ know how to pronounce it.
Stephen: There you go. “Page cannot be displayed.” Now, we’ll go back and try to do another search and see if that will happen. So I guess we can still access Google, but not that page.
Stephen: Try “pro-democracy”. [silence] It’s all working fine.
Stephen: So if we keep trying, we’ll see…So I just witnessed that they shut the IP off before. Google doesn’t have control of this. They call it the great firewall of China. As things progress we’ll see how things change and become more transparent.
Brooke: Okay, well, let’s discuss more about your upcoming sessions you’re doing at Search Engine Strategies. I believe you’re signed up to speak at about 3 sessions. Tell us the difference in how you plan on presenting here at SES Nanjing and what you talked about at AdTech Shanghai?
Stephen: It’s actually really different. At Adtech I focused on, more on the different between the US and the Asian marketplace in research and authorization. And just explained how the search engines differ in Yahoo.com in Asian is completely different from the Yahoo.com in the United States. The results are completely different. I’m actually more of an architect at this one and I actually talk more about theory across the board. The track that I’m on would be nice to talk about the differences, but the tracks more designed toward talking about theory.
Brooke: Are you still case studying? Because you mentioned before that you had a case study ready with a client who..
Stephen: Oh! Yeah, we changed up all our slides yeah. I just wanted to change a couple things.
Brooke: I think I saw something that you said you were going to use sites from the audience to optimize. Are you still going to do that?
Stephen: Yeah, we’re going to do the site closing on the end of the second day and then during the first day I am also going to get some sites. And you know, if I get some good sites I’ll use them the second day during the first talk. But the second conclusion by the end of the day will be getting live authorization so they will give me the start of their website, we’ll punch it in, we’ll pull it out, then we’ll strip it apart right then and there. So people could actually see what search engine optimization people do and get an idea of direct interaction.
Brooke: Cool, right there on the spot. Get instant feedback, that’s good. Have you done that before? At Adtech?
Stephen: Not at Adtech, but I’ve seen (inaudible) in region and that’s what I’d like to do more so I’d like to do live examples. It’s much more useful. Every week in Singapore I actually, the first four months every week we’d have 10 business owners, we’d invite them to come into our office and we’d literally go to a few of their websites. And usually show each of those business owners, so it’s open to each of these business owners.
Brooke: So it’s like a free seminar?
Stephen: Yeah, and it was really good because a lot of the business owners were like “Oh wow, we didn’t realize that our design was this..” and we tell them everything we even get into their Who is information. Actually the person who is registered in the Who Is document is the person that has control of your dominion issues and we try to contact them. Some of the Asia agencies had a problem or they hire a design company to do it and the designer is actually the name on the Who Is document and it’s just kind of like they’re in the really early stages in how the website works. To some of the very basic stuff and getting into the advanced stuff, like teaching them, when businesses can make use of it we would like to control some of the knowledge we give. Because we don’t want to give knowledge to the wrong type of business.
Brooke: Do you find that Asians business owners are 3 years behind? As far as education or understanding of search marketing?
Stephen: Umm search marketing?
Brooke: Or do they even know what that means?
Stephen: Yea, well, no almost nobody who attends our seminars understands the word SEO or SEM. They have no idea what that means. I come and I ask and nobody will understand the definition. Actually my seminars start out with like I talk about how much money is made online and my first question to them is how much do they think Amazon.com makes in one single day? And I’d go around the room and ask between 1-5 million a day in sales and between 5-10 and 10-15 and it’d be like over 20. And commonly they’re pick low numbers, middle range numbers, almost nobody picks the high numbers and it’s between I think like 1-20 million and they actually do like 30 million a day in sales. And I say yeah, this is a common thing we have people don’t understand how much money is made online. We talked to some of the big Singapore airlines some Azushi guys and they think they’re doing well because they’re, you know, making 20, Amazon is making 20 million dollars it sounds really good on paper, but the actuality is you look right now, that mean they’d be losing18 million. So this is one of the big problems here in Asia is the people are so happy to make a million dollars, 2 million dollars, 3 million dollars and they quit. They think “we’ve done enough, there’s nothing more we can do” and I keep telling them well you know you might be making money but jeez you might be losing more than your making. And I’ve never seen a client that has not been able to make more money than they are already making currently. Like they could be doubling, tripling their income by simply refining the process. Because you know, anybody can be successful in online marketing you just dump money in and just do anything. You can buy enough ads, you can turn up a profit. It’s like 7 million emails out you’re going to convert it.
Brooke: Yeah, it’s like .5 or 1 %. Right?
Stephen: Yeah, just getting that refinement is lacking here in Asia. And it’s really hard to make them understand the value behind that because they’re content at making what they’re doing.
Brooke: Are they more excited about PPC? Or SEO? Which is the easier sell?
Stephen: Um, depends on how you’re selling it. They’re both very hard to sell in the marketplace but PPC sold very strategically in Asia. So this is kind of like how we differ.. well, not us, but how the market differs. In Asia they sell on a CTM basis, even if they buy it on CPC. And they contract it for months, 3 months to 6 months. So for example they’ll say, “okay I want to buy Emarketing as my term” they’ll charge you $1000 US for that term and they don’t tell you that they buy it on a CPC. Or they’ll tell you on a (inaudible) by volume on a CPM. And they do different marketing. They play off the fact, they don’t say “Your competitor is advertising here. Don’t you want to be higher than your competitor?” Pay me $1000 and I’ll put you above your competitor on the PPC side of search engine marketing. And that works for a lot of businesses. There’s a lot of cold calling almost all the firms here in Asia do cold calling, they’ll just call clients up all day long, and again, they’re taking those (inaudible) they’ll be calling up companies and offer them service. One guy’s going to have enough budget and they’ll say yes and yeah, they get it. Singapore has one of the highest levels of frauds in the entire industry so much so that Singapore runs a special system, contract system, that they do not allow any agency to deal directly with the clients. Like with the system, any buys you have you have to go directly to Yahoo, sign a contract, sign your name, your agency’s name and the terms and that would be, you know, filed way before you can actually advertise. So what happened we had one company in Singapore that was misrepresenting saying that they would be able to buy exposure on Yahoo and they would not explain that it was not exposure on other international Yahoos and they wouldn’t explain that they were, you know, what they were charging it as. And they would charge you $1000 a key word a month and, you know, you just got to find a few clients and you know they did have a lot of clients buying it, and this was, you know, about 4 years ago. And what happened was Yahoo international, Yahoo US got complaints they actually had got major corporate clients to buy into this system. And then they basically realized that they should be paying 10 cents for that $1000 term. And they were calling Yahoo US and asking, “What’s going on here? We’re getting these companies that are selling us this really expensive service. Like how do you guys justify this?” And actually Yahoo went in there, kicked the company out, and banned the company permanently from selling Yahoo services and took control back internally and filtered everything that’s gone on. We are actually the only agency that was able to offer advertisement, or actually buy advertisement under SEO and SEM services.
Brooke: You’d have to be approved, they’d know.
Stephen: Yeah, you get pre-approved on the terms you buy. Kind of what they do, Adwords and everything they approve the content, but now they approve like, you know, more than the content, they also look into the who’s managing..
Brooke: What other affiliate sites does Yahoo distribute out to? As far as Yahoo China, do they have Alibaba, other sites that they, when you post an ad on Yahoo, pay-per-click ad, are there any other sites?
Stephen: No, Yahoo Singapore and Yahoo Asia is still basically, it’s only the Yahoo results. And they don’t do, you know, Yahoo publishing like that in the United States, they don’t have that; at least not here. So all the publishing ads you see on the websites are actually coming from the United States.
Brooke: Sounds good. Um.. let’s see. How do you position yourself in your company? Are you guys more SEO or PPC?
Stephen: Um, we’re basically trying to position ourselves more of an advisor role and we don’t like to take clients.
Brooke: You don’t like to take clients?
Stephen: No, simply because of the fact that… because it’s too much of a work load to take on one client. So we like to educate clients we work with like… initially we worked with global sources and a trainer staff and we trained a lot of corporate. And we’ll go in there and we’ll train their staff on how to use the PPC system and how to do SEO. So we take a client but we don’t actually do the work for them. We’d rather pass knowledge to their employees and have those employees be capable in maintaining that account. Because in the US you see a lot of times you see the agencies want to hold back all that knowledge, they want the client to be dependent on that agency to manage that account and maintain that account. And the agency ends up earning 10% doing nothing after they set it up. So what we do is we still take the set up fee, but we work with the client and their team all the way through that set up fee. So we work with their engineers and develop maybe API’s that better suit them, we work with training their staff on how to manage the PPC systems, give them knowledge of what the PPCs do, and how to optimize under that. And that way once it’s set up, they have enough knowledge to maintain it. And we advise them and let them know about new systems that come out, we’ll let them know… if they have questions they’ll email me, they’ll call us up and ask us “How do we do this?” And that’s why we work well in Google because Google does like our transparency of our agency. Because Google sees us as we pass knowledge directly to the client and that we’re not holding back. We let out clients contact Google directly so that our…
Brooke: Do you ever feel like you ever get cut out of the loop then?
Stephen: Um, it’s actually kind of funny because the client will ask us and Google the same question. And we have to ask Google the same question and Google comes back to us and… ya, we’ve already answered this question. It’s not a problem because it’s… the way that the process works, yeah we are being cut out of the loop, but we’re not concerned. Getting cut out of the loop is not a big deal because if the client got their information and knowledge, that’s the goal. Of course if it’s something they know and we don’t know we want to know that information also. But it’s just most of the time, the clients, whoever they could get the answer from. And like I was talking to David here, we do have a lot of agencies back in the United States and we pass clients to them. And we always be an open system work. If a client wants in house action, a lot of … has to do a lot of the work and they refuse a training staff or they’re not capable of training staff and they don’t want to hire, a lot of times a clients will come to us and say “Well I don’t have staff,” and I say “Well, we will hire, we will put the ads up for you, we will train and hire your staff for you.”
Brooke: Have you guys every thought of doing training products then? Or any sort of materials?
Stephen: Well that’s the thing that a lot of people have asked, so we can actually duplicate a sort of our agency. It’s never been something that we’ve taken much seriously, because of the time to take to get actually something like that formally put in and get into place and let somebody else run. Yeah, it’d be a great product, but that’s not something that we have done at this point.
Brooke: Gotcha. Well, I asked you some of this earlier but, I read somewhere that MSN wants to use your presentation internally. A presentation you did for AdTech. What exactly were they looking for or find useful from your slides?
Stephen: Yeah. We talked about the click through rates of ad systems in different markets and we were showing like how the click through rate on Google on the PPC side of the things works really well. And we did Yahoo and Google click through rate and showed them how, you know, even if you buy out advertising space, you know, you’re getting on Yahoo 46% of your market share and Google is 24% of your market share that’s using the PPC side of it. And just explaining how that happens you know, why it is a little bit more and when we speak in Singapore we talk a little bit more about that about how each system differs and how each system gets clicks differently.
Brooke: You think that’s because of Yahoo has more of a PPC at the top and the bottom of the page? Less organic on the page itself, on the result page itself?
Stephen: Yeah all these different gigs Yahoo, they stack the ads above all the time, and they actually match the font size and style and same with SEO. Actually the only two differences is they shade the background a different color, they do a dot instead of a number.
Brooke: And it’s difficult to extinguish, like people say it’s organic.
Stephen: Yeah, they don’t even know the difference between organic and ad. They don’t really notice the difference. A lot of our clients actually think that the ones up top aren’t ads, they’re actually featured websites and the most important websites because there’s very little difference between the two. So they don’t really understand what it is. So, yeah, it’s a problem with Yahoo like, Yahoo’s whole ideology is to make money. They don’t really care about the user that’s their business model. Yeah, their business model is to make as much money as they can from the users and from their system. Why they push banner ads on the front of their home page, why they do PPC system before Google and why they push ads differently than Google, because they just are all about revenues and they’re not too concerned about making their algorithms as high tech as Google. Sure they like to have better algorithms and better results, but they’re not, you know… even I was talking about web rank. You know, web rank is still alive and well, but I think my agency and nobody else in the world even cares about it. But it’s actually, you know, it’s more algorithms than Google page rank, but Yahoo doesn’t want them to know or talk about it so they kill it, they don’t tell anybody that it exists. But they... you know, use it for their services and technologies.
Brooke: Wait, say a little bit more about web rank, what exactly they do?
Stephen: Well so Yahoo web rank, you know, I know Google page rank almost everybody can be the first time Webmaster and you know about Google page rank. And it’s like the most talked about thing. But, Yahoo has exactly the same technology and exactly the same system. What happened was Yahoo had it available for about a month, publicly, and then they closed the door on it. They just didn’t want people freaking out when their web rank changed. And they also, how they also backed out of it, they have a problem, their database at Yahoo isn’t very high tech so they actually database it on their one name, either www or the non-www of the domain name. So they have some problems, you might have web rank 0, but rather than that you have web rank 8 because it’s under the sub-domain or the domain. And they just didn’t want to have this spin on them that Google has where everybody freaks out at the web rank 0.
Brooke: They probably need to call just to answer the questions on them.
Stephen: Exactly, you try to call Yahoo with any of those services and they just don’t want to provide it. And so they kind of, they still run it, it’s still updated, it’s still, you can still access it if you know how. But, it’s not something that they want the general public to know about. Because it’s just not how they… they’re out looking for money. The offices, the Yahoo Singapore offices, they make so much more money than, you know. For example, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and this region. Google only has one office in Beijing and sales office.
Brooke: Yeah, but Google is newer and Yahoo has been around a little bit longer.
Stephen: Um, yeah, but it’s also money. And Yahoo has all these offices because they push banner ads and ads… they’re basically an advocacy they’re the same as like a Sachi-Sachi. So they need people. They do creative, they do banner pop-ups… like that.
Brooke: Do you find it easier to do business with Asian companies than US companies?
Stephen: It’s very difficult to do business here in Asia, when you’re dealing with a straight Asian company. I was just talking to David about that. And saying that you know how a lot of the companies that I deal with are used to throwing people at a problem, not knowledge and educated people at a problem. They think they can solve a problem with people and they people are cheap here, they think that they could get 30 people to do SEO work and they go in and get the same result as hiring one professional. And they don’t realize that, you know, I’ve been in business for 8 years and you know I still learn. You’re buying eight years of experience. And there’s really no way you can duplicate a lot of that. I tell them I could train those people and I can give them, you know, the fundamentals that they need to understand, but, you know, you’re going to need that training and they’re not going to get it out of a book. And sadly, a lot of people, even in the US, they push books, they push that you can learn how to do SEO in a book.
Brooke: The US universities don’t even push internet marketing really.
Stephen: No, it’s one of the big problems with how to talk about how to QC an agency. You know I do a lot of QCs with agencies and how do you tell one agency is better than the other? And finally, Google has the group of professionals program, which allows people to sort of think, well if you’re not a professional… well, if you don’t have that test, you don’t belong in the industry. I’m sorry. And it seems like Yahoo’s bachelor program, and if you can’t pass that test, then learn, try again. And some universities will actually come out and offer you to take a course, but the internet is one of those things that is very little understood and people like the consultants don’t have the time to become lecturers. Because there’s not a lot of money to be lecturers at this point. And most of the big consultants make way more money actually, directly helping the company.
Brooke: So, hopefully your teaching many Asian companies that (inaudible) does count and you’re showing them…
Stephen: We walk in, push them like I’m a member of SEMPO and we push SEMPO really heavily in this region because we want to make sure that people know, you know, like okay don’t really have to do with me, but here’s an organization of everybody who all wants to be part of the industry. There’s really no control. You just pay money, you become a member, it just shows that you want to be a part of that industry. It shows that you are taking that extra little bit step, it shows that you want to be part of that community.
Brooke: So you want to learn, and yeah, it’s a constant learning process. Stay on the cutting edge.
Stephen: Yeah, you come to SES and you’d be amazed at how many agencies who want to talk to you back home that “Oh I don’t really want to go. Oh gee it costs too much money to go to SES.” Okay, it’s going to cost you $1500 we actually have packages for agencies. It’s $1500 to fly round trip with your ticket and your hotel and you get SES. And you can fly for 2 days. It’ll take 2 days to come here and you’ll learn so much more and you’re going to help all your clients. And they just don’t want to do it. And also a lot of business owners don’t want to feel the value to coming to this event. But, a lot of the Western companies they do, like global sources, they’re all western management. So, they have a very good understanding of how to make use of knowledge.
Brooke: It seems that they get more competitive too, online with the Asian companies then they could start to see “Oh, I can’t just change the meta and title tags and there must be something more to this and I should probably go to a conference or something.”
Stephen: For sure.
Brooke: yeah, I think that’ll actually happen. Well, last question is really, where do you see the future of search engine marketing in Asia?
Stephen: I think it’s going to be the same as back home. Uh, it’s going to be, you know, take 2-3 years of development. In 2 years we will be at the same level of development that we are at now.
Brooke: 2 to 3 years wow.
Stephen: Yeah and that’s… we need more SES’s more AdTech’s maybe a Webmaster or two coming through this region. Getting all types of people through that event, so that they go back, they give stories that say “Oh yeah, you know, my competitor’s making 10 times more than I am maybe I am doing something that maybe I could do better.” Because right now most of the companies that I’ve been talking to, even the big companies it’s hard to sell because they’re just… to me they’re making profits. And we’ll show them that you could make more and it’s the change factor, like, they don’t really know if they should change because they’re the largest in their industry they’re like “Well, you know, we’re making money now and should we do any thing or…? Is this really true?” And we just need a lot of people coming from this region and saying “yeah” we can make $100,000,000 a year on the internet, no problem…if you’re a big corporation. And there’s no need to just stop at just a million.
Sounds good. Thank you for having a talk with us today and… Ian did you have any questions that you wanted to ask as well?
Ian: Well what were some of the challenges that you have run into trying to convince western companies to work in China? As compared to the challenges between Chinese companies that want to enter into the US market?
Stephen: Okay, so the companies in China, there have been a lot of companies that have contacted us and wanted to expand into China. They hear all these user numbers and all this information.
Ian: Yeah, 1.3 billion customers!
Stephen: Yeah, which is, um, it’s a lot of hype like we were talking about in AdTech that 70% of those users were under the age of 14, but now, it’s 70% of the users are under 15. And um, the, you know, you’re trying to sell products to Asia and you’re trying to sell better products, you’re going to try to target the European countries and next India. Because China does not have the infrastructure, even India is a little bit further behind because of the banking infrastructure. The users are there, the language is right, it’s just the money and the banking. China’s a poor country. There’s a lot of people but not many people have money. You look around in China there’s just not very many nice cars in the road, and there’s just… not a lot of money spent in terms of China. So, there’s not a lot of money.
Brooke: There’s a lot of Audi’s here though!
Stephen: Audi’s, yes. They’re like the Rolls Royce here. So basically, when I talk to companies that come into China I say, you know, “Yeah, we can target China, but have you maximized everything in the United States? Have you been to India before you come to China?” And a lot of times they’ll say no and they… they realize after. But then again some of the guys do... electronic products yeah you can target China, but then you have to have support. You can’t target in English. You have to have Chinese and you have to have proper Chinese. Which is a kind of a problem because you know, trying to do support in Chinese, and email communications in Chinese, you really need a local staff. And then the logistic undertaking to do that is usually high than most electronic websites are capable of doing. People that do ecommerce online or electronics don’t really have a big staff, their whole idea behind electronic… is not to go into that whole avenue. So you’re telling them “Well, you’re going to have to have those people that can translate and speak Chinese and run your whole site in Chinese” and they’re like “Well, what do you mean I can’t run it from my own bedroom?” So, it’s difficult there’s lots of users here and lots of attention, but it’s not like the US you have to be proper and it’s going to take some years of development to take… where they could do more than small transactions and use of Amazon type purchases. We’ve actually never had a US client who we’ve advised to come into China because of the logistics. We try to get our client to get outside of China. It’s a whole different logistic manner, but they’ve… they have little money and products.
Brooke: What about Ebay Power Sellers? Are they trying to buy direct through China?
Stephen: Yeah, that’s what we’re doing. That’s exactly what we’re dealing with. A lot of the Ebay Power Sellers are trying to buy directly through China and trying to become the next Costco. And try to buy direct from the factories and buy in bulk. So, Global Sources direct, which is a project that we’re working very heavily with is that idea of Global Sources and Ebay and all the tons of Chinese suppliers that they have in China being able to let the suppliers sell products directly to users and in quantities of let’s say between 6 and 30 units. So you can’t just buy 1 unit, but it’s more value to buy a case of mp3 players and sell them back on Ebay. Or sell them to your local shops and stuff like that.
Brooke: Electronics seem to be more popular?
Stephen: Yeah, and mostly high moving items. Like, IPod accessories and PC accessories right now are like big time movers. I think there was a press release that went live today so, it should be live…
Brooke: By the way, you are probably the most, when I Google your name, you’re probably like the most popular name I’ve ever seen on the internet. As far as on Google; you’re like 4 pages. I’m like good job! I want to congratulate you on your PR that you do. And there’s like 10 press releases all on, you know, your new gap, there’s a one-year anniversary… but, yeah you do good PR for yourself.
Stephen: Yeah, well what they say is that you make use of the internet as best as you can and .. yeah.
Brooke: I think if you just typed in Stephen, we’d just get you.
Stephen: Yeah, it’s kind of hard when I try to … yeah, there’s too much recindication of my name. It’s kind of hard to monitor what’s going on.
Brooke: Okay, so they’re just putting out new press releases, or re-writing it or…
Stephen: Yeah, because we do deal with issues that a lot of people are interested in. We do Google and Yahoo and we talk about it. And we’ll talk about it in the press releases. People pick that up and then we write it. So we add AdTech because we have a lot of talks with Google and…
Brooke: Yeah, definitely. They’re going to talk more about Google and at the Google dance I think they’re going to be talking about the new launches and stuff.
Stephen: Yeah, as we were talking today about childhood and Google, it’s actually pretty interesting to think if they’re really going to translate Google into Chinese …
Brooke: Yeah, right now they are translating Google into Goo-goo, no, pardon me, it was more like Go- Go.
Stephen: But, there was one thing that Google did say when we were with them was that they want to be seen as a Chinese company in China. Right now they’re seen as a US company in China and they say that’s the biggest hurdle to overcome. They want to make sure that people see them as a Chinese company. So, that’s why they’re complying with the government here, that’s why they’re wanting to have 800 staff. That’s why they want to have a lot of people here so they become part of the community, part of what people would think of a home grown search engine. So people see Vido(?) being more inline with the Chinese mentality which is because they’re in an area, they are home grown and they have that image of being China and something unique. See that’s why Yahoo… Alibaba is the home grown success story Jack Ma is the poster child everybody wants to be. He is… he’s been doing great, everybody looks up..
Brooke: Well, it’s so funny because I read some stuff about him and he says he doesn’t want to make money. He’s just doing it for the sheer fun of it.
Stephen: He likes a challenge. He’s like one of those guys that like likes to go after a challenge and of course, money’s always a… everybody in business doesn’t do it for money, they do it for the challenge. Because when you… If I wanted to make money I wouldn’t be in Asia. Because I’d be back in the United States, you can make way more money; managing clients, but as I said before, you become a tool. When we’re in the US you become a tool to them they say, “we need this done, do it.” And you could do it, you’re making money, but you’re not like, there’s not much interaction.
Brooke: Wait, just one other thing that I and … Who’s Gong Ge Ji and J-I? Is that right? And why is Google using them as their internet content provider license? Do you know much about that?
Stephen: So those types of things, so it’s like in the United States. If you want to go public on nasteq you can go one of two ways. You can go and file all you (inaudible) mission and all the security stuff and all that, or you can buy currency that’s currently on NASTEQ take them over and then change their company name as your name. And that’s how they do to get the public to trade it. They don’t go through the enormous process of getting approved and at the same time you can efficiently buy a company that has already traded and taken over. Google did that in the marketplace. You get a license in the China market, it’s difficult. So instead of going through all the processes of doing everything like that, they bought a company that had a pre-existing license…
Brooke: What kind of company was that?
Stephen: Obviously, it was a search company that they had a.. you know… it could have been a.. shelf company that have already got a previous thing like you know… I believe it was a company that had already gone through the process of getting a license and being a search company in China. And instead of Google having to do the same thing, they bought that company and used their license. Which is now Google’s license. And I was very surprised that the people from the west thought that that was kind of funny because in the United States it happens all the time in different ways. It’s controlled. The government controls the search here so it’s like security situations back home. It’s very difficult. You know, it’s a long process. I mean Google wanted to come into the market as quickly as possible. So the quickest way is to buy into…
Brooke: Oh, okay. And the government isn’t going back to do extra checks?
Stephen: Well, it’s still the same policies. It’s just that they don’t’ have to go back and do all the initial paperwork. Even with NASDAQ it’s just the paperwork and the time thing and its just… if you want to go public tomorrow, you can buy a company, change the name, and go public.
Brooke: Yeah, there you go. Interesting. Good. Anything else?
Ian: Yeah, I’m curious about, you know, you talk about the market in China I know it’s really new and stuff, but I wonder if your company uses companies like, IResearch or Analysis to get information about the market in China? Where do you get your information about the market in China?
Stephen: You know, who we get information from, we get information for a lot of people like Inway. It is a marketplace that is so large and so disoriented that there’s a lot of… there’s not one good source of information. But Inway has been a really great source because he’s tied in so many of the agencies and so many of the companies and he knows what’s going on, who’s new coming out, who’s spending money talking with Google like, who’s spending the most money, who’s spending more money this month? Like what’s going on? Monitoring different things. Right now, you know hit wise, there’s not a lot of exposure. We do hit wise in the United States and the other markets, but you know, in Asia, in China, they don’t have a lot of control. And t hey probably never will, assuming that the government never releases that control to the people.
Eve: And just to explain to the listeners who Inway is?
Stephen: Oh, Inway is an organizer of search engine strategies, and he’s the first ever buyer/reseller nationwide. He was a Google reseller nationwide, Yahoo reseller nationwide, so he’s basically the middle man between Google and other search engines to the agencies. So he doesn’t deal with clients he just deals with agencies. So the agencies are his clients. And he also runs organizations like SES and ISAS…which is .. well, we’re going to have to ask him about that. Yeah, so he’s got that, and he’s got his own understanding of what’s going on. Well right now there’s probably the one good thing is that the Asians actually set up a really strong research firm and are tying in with some of the agencies. It’d be good because there’s lots of information out there. But, in China it’s not organized yet. But, uh, actually, one of the good things was, yahoo Asia which is Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia and puts them into a database so you can do keyword research in those marketplaces. It’s not public, but, you know, it may be public by the time you listen to this. And you can go in there and find out what those marketplaces are searching for in volume. Sort of like Overture keyword tool, but much more exact…
Brooke: And it covers those four markets?
Stephen: It’s Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia so six markets.
Brooke: So it would be all combined. So you couldn’t find where most of the searches are coming from Taiwan.
Stephen: No, you can. You can do both. You can say I only want to see the results in Thailand. And they’ll tell you what the volume is. And terms related. So you can put in any specific keyword and they’ll tell you the exact volume number for that. And they could also put in other terms and they’ll say “other terms” related to it.
Brooke: What are your thoughts of Johnny Chou [President of Greater China Sales and Business Development for Google]? How do you think he’ll shape Google’s presence in China?
Stephen: We met Johnny Chou early on. In fact, we met Johnny at AdTech and he had only been with Google for a week and his business card was not even an official business card yet. And he just printed out a business card. He comes from telecom industry. All of top management in Google China comes from other local Chinese companies. It’s to Google’s advantage is to hire and use local knowledge and access to the government. It’s easier for them to hire those who already have pre-existing relationships with Chinese companies. They don’t want to have the US management there [in China]. They want local people. The government feels more comfortable with local knowledge. One thing that was interesting, Google stated that they are not interested in buying Baidu.…Next Google will come out with Google maps software to cover China.
Brooke: David was saying that one of the top searches paired with the word ‘China’ was ‘China map’.
Stephen: They’re really trying to expand on the local. Push the local service. Most people in China are using Baidu to find music. But they use Google to find information. Like their local restaurant. They definitely want to push the local service. Like in the US, the local features are definitely more adapted. They want to educate the users on search and the capability of search. Mobile search is a good example and this will be pushed more….Everyone is going to have a Blackberry device and carry with them all the time. Their focus on internet applications for mobile devices not internet applications for the PC.
Brooke: Yes, it seem as though the Chinese are ahead of us in terms of mobile device usage.
Stephen: They are and they aren’t. Actually, Blackberries have low usage. They have mobile devices that have great games and graphics and processors but they don’t use it for search or for internet or business.
Brooke: By better understanding the U.S. search users and their behavior, the search engines have had some time to develop their technology and learn a lot of information on different search behaviors, so I can see them adapting to the Chinese users very quickly and therefore the Chinese will be able to adapt more quickly to the technology as well. In time, we’ll be able to tell more and share more information. We’ll have to check back in with you Stephen soon as you definitely seem to have your hand on the pulse of the search marketing industry here in China.
This has been some very interesting insight into China and their user’s search behavior. Thanks for sharing your time Stephen. We’re talking to Stephen Noton from Adverted and I’m Brooke Schumacher signing off. Visit eMarketingTalkShow.com for more information and search marketing interviews.