Archive for web2.0

Google checkout conversion tracking

Here’s Google’s email reply to a request for Conversion Tracking with Google checkout:

…As for persisting analytics tracking, that’s something that isn’t possible with the way Checkout currently works.  However, we’ve heard loud and clear from many merchants that this is something that we need to somehow enable.  We have nothing to announce at this time, but we’re working on some things to address this particular problem…

Hopefully sooner, rather than later.


Leave a Comment’s Flub, I mean Hub

What happens when you violate theses #3 of the Cluetrain Manifesto.. “Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice,” is you end up with’s “Hub”

WalMart is trying, and failing miserably, to jump on the bandwagon by building their own social networking site. They’re the annoying kid who always tries to interject in your conversation with one his own experiences that is in no way relevant to the discussion you were having. Not much social networking that’s going to happen in that environment.
Here’s an excerpt from Bob Garfield’s review at AdAge:

Here’s a sample Hub post from “Holly” — who happens not to be a random Hubster, but a child actress with grown-up ghostwriters. Bad grown-up ghostwriters. (Warning: If you are squeamish seeing others embarrass themselves, this would be a good time to turn the page.)

“Shopping will be my number ONE hobby this fall. I am going to be the most fashionable teen at school! I’ll be on the lookout for the latest fashions. From leggings to layers, to boots and flats, big belts and headbands! I’ll be looking for it all! Layering is SO IN right now. Hobo bags are also in style. OH! And big sunglasses! WHOO!! I don’t know where to stop! With all of the new clothes I’ll be getting, the kids at school will be begging me for fashion tips!

It won’t be long before executives at WalMart report to the board that that social networking concept sweeping the internet is just a crock and has no basis for longevity in the “real” world.

It’s sites like the Hub that are really clogging the tubes.

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My experience using Google Checkout as a merchant

One thing that has changed is the new Google Checkout. We’ve been working with GC (Gbuy as it was known in beta) for a while now. I really like the UI for the customer experience. Checkout is easy and pretty much painless.

On our backend, it is pretty straightforward and foolproof. Just a series of XML passing back and forth between us and Google updating the order status and injecting orders into our backend.

It has a lot more legs than MS Passport and I think it will prove to be a value add for Ecommerce in general, and particularly the consumer.

Having said all that, here are my issues:
Once a customer places an order, there is no way to edit the order. If the customer requests expedited shipping after the order was placed, you have to either give it (expedited shipping) away at no additional charge, or cancel the order and reprocess it in your internal order management system.

When an order is placed by the customer, their credit card/debit card is authorized to ensure available funds, and to hold such available funds. If the order is not charged within 3 days, Google will re-authorize the card and then capture the funds, resulting in 2 auths and a capture. This presents problems for debit card owners over weekends and holidays. Google stated that they are working on this to extend the timeframe for re-auth.

Orders tend to get in a state of “reviewing”, meaning the funds have not been authorized and the merchant cannot process the order, quite often. It seems these orders are being subject to a manual review. Based on customer feedback, I think this happens more often when the original auth fails and the customer has to go back and edit the credit card information.

Google has a Payment Guarantee Policy that should cover fraud as Google performs the AVS and CVN matches and doesn’t give the merchant any additional billing information. Some orders have a full match on the AVS and CVN, but Google still denies their eligibility for the Payment Guarantee Policy.

From Google:

“Google relies on a variety of proprietary systems–including internal data sources and advanced risk modeling–to evaluate the risk levels associated with transactions. If the risk level for a particular transaction is too high, Google will not cover the transaction under the Payment Guarantee Policy.”

These orders are still covered under the Chargeback Resolution Policy, but that does not guarantee you will receive your funds back for chargebacks.

The last drawback I’ll talk about, and it is big, is that there is no way to persist your website metrics through checkout. We use Omniture analytics and there is no way to report that a visitor that used Google checkout completed a transaction. There’s not even a way to use Google adwords conversion tracking in Google checkout. This results in a low conversion rate whereby, we have to do manual ‘cipherin’ to figure out the true conversion. I hope Google allows us to place code on the “thank you” page in the near future as this is a real pain in the ass.

Overall though, I think the product is great. Although it may be in beta for the next 3-5 years, they’ve already made some strong improvements to the product. I have high hopes for the future.

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Entrepeneurs are an odd bunch

Munjal's most recent blog post about his experience starting Riya is the best post yet. The following quote puts into words something that most entrepreneurs, just haven't taken the time to reflect on, and realize about themselves.

Entrepreneurs are an odd bunch. As an entrepreneur you create a vision of what can be and then work really hard to make that happen. It is your imprint on the world. It is your legacy. Maybe 2000 years ago if you wanted to leave a mark you would be Julius Cesear or Genghis Khan. Today you start a technology or Internet company. I believe almost all entrepreneurs seek immortality through their products. This is one of the reasons we all seek to build products that are used by and benefit the lives of as many people as possible. We want to do good, but we also want to be remembered. Some admit this and some don't, but it is true. The greatest crusades in the world are always for the intangible. There is no other explanation for why founder's of companies work so hard and sacrifice so much. Money can only account for so much of this. You have to believe that you are on this planet to somehow change it.

What a great reflection! I would think that most entrepeneurs are more interested in the success of their ideas than of money. For those of you that I'm speaking to about employment, please disregard that last sentence. 🙂

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Last 60 Days of Riya – launch of a startup

Munjal Shah, Founder and CEO of one of my favorite new companies, Riya, started blogging the experience of the last 60 days of Riya's launch…

Last 60 Days of Riya

"I will recount the days following our launch, the cocaine like high and subsequent crash of the Techcrunch effect, the final analysis on whether Riya's technology worked, the feedback we recieved from users, the competitors we beat (at least in traffic), the flaw in the Riya business strategy we uncovered, the crisis it precipitated, the concern I developed for the entire Web 2.0 industry as the numbers rolled in, the search for a new strategy as Azhar, Burak, and I sat in a conference room for almost 10 days straight, the customer data that lead us to a counter-web 2.0 and counter intuitive strategy, the board meeting and debate about it, and the first execution around it."

This should prove to be a very interesting read. Riya has shown the power of developing a great product and letting the consumers and word of mouth drive growth rather than the push of ad dollars to drive growth.

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Google launches new Calendar

I had recently switched from the calendar to Kiko but hesitated to put too much into Kiko's calendar because I wanted to see what Google was going to produce.

Just when I got used to Kiko…WHAM! Google launches their new calendar. So far it looks simple to use; drag and drop, quick add, reminders via SMS, etc. It also has the ability to share calendars with others. From what I hear, if I have access to more than one calendar, Google Calendar will layer all shared calendars on the same view. If an email is received in your Gmail account that references a date/time, Gmail will ask if you want to add it to your calendar.

So far the only real dissapointment is the lack of an RSS feed. Okay, I found the feed. It seems there is more than one "settings" option, one for all calendars and one on the calendar level. The feeds are on the calendar level.

I exported my Outlook calendar and then imported into Google, it seems that when Google imports your calendar it imports using the Pacific Time Zone, so all of my times are off by 2 hours. You may want to keep an eye on this post to see if there is a resolution prior to importing anything.

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The truth behind Web 2.0

Ross Levinsohn of Fox Interactive reveals what's really behind the Web 2.0 mini bubble…

"I'm intrigued by some of these start-ups in the Web 2.0 space. They don't cost an arm and a leg, but they have no business model," Ross Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media, told a Bank of America investor conference. story

As I've said before, so many of these new Web 2.0 companies are launching with great products but no means to produce revenue. Many say they will be ad supported in the future, but how far can that really get you? Their only sustainable hope is to get bought out, but then I can't really call that sustainable can I?

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