Too Funny: Google wants .LOL Domain

Google has applied to control a slew of domain names that are not only related to its core business but have “interesting and creative potential.”
The company announced on its blog on Thursday that it has submitted applications to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the following domains: .google, .youtube, .doc and .lol.
ICANN, which assigns top-level domains to sites worldwide, will announce in June which domains will be added to the existing list that includes “.com” or “.gov.”
“In 2016, it’s estimated that almost half of the world’s population will be online, yet nearly 50 percent of the websites we visit are found in the .com top-level domain (TLD), which was among the first TLDs created in 1984,” Google wrote on its Official Blog.
“Despite the great opportunities the web has enabled for people around the world, there is still a lingering question about the diversity of the domain space (given that the number of generic TLDs has only increased by 14 in the last 28 years).”
Google aims to grow the number of TLDs in four categories, such as trademarks (such as .google), those related to its core business (.docs), ones that improve the user experience and increase the identification of certain genres (.youtube) and fun options (.lol).
The search engine giant also noted that it plans to keep security and abuse prevention top of mind in creating a positive experience for web users.
“We’re just beginning to explore this potential source of innovation on the web, and we are curious to see how these proposed new TLDs will fare in the existing TLD environment,” the company says.
“By opening up more choices for Internet domain names, we hope people will find options for more diverse — and perhaps shorter — signposts in cyberspace.”
What do you think of Google’s choice for new top-level domain names? Which ones would you like to see pop up on the web? Let us know in the comments.

By: Samantha Murphy


How To Market Your Handcrafts Business Online

You’ve got crafts to sell, and they’re awesome. How come you’re not making money from them? Chances are, you have not taken advantage of online marketing for your business, and all its accompanying tools.
Let’s say you have a handcrafted jewelry business, and you want to make people aware that it exists. What do you do?
For starters, recognize if there is already an existing market for your kind of business online. If it does, check it out and do a bit of research to see if it is thriving, and if you’re up for a lot of competition. This will help you come up with a unique approach to sell your wares and see the bigger picture as to how long you can sustain your online business.
If you can afford it, buy a domain with your store’s name as the site name. This will give your products instant recall and it will be easier to look for your online store once your jewelry start making a name for themselves. If you can’t afford your own site yet, take advantage of free blogging sites like WordPress to start with. There are a lot of templates you can choose from, and you can tweak the settings to come up with a more personalized and customized look that will go with your wares.
You can customize the site to look like a virtual brochure where clients can pick out the designs they want. Or you can make it look like a virtual tour of your workshop. Add lots of interesting pictures so people can have an idea of what goes on behind your craft. A lot of customers like a bit of history with their finished product, so take advantage of that curiosity. It’s always vital to keep your site update because it will make people aware that you’re always working on something new for them.
If you’re going to be transacting online, bear in mind that you have to be committed to checking out your site regularly because it’s not nice to keep customers waiting for answers. Also, you must have a reliable shipping service that will deliver the goods to clients on time. This will pave the way for satisfied, and hopefully returning, clients who can promote your online business for you without you asking them to!
You can also participate or sign up in an online crafts forum or gallery. Etsy and Multiply are good examples. You can think of them as a virtual crafts bazaar or mall where you can check out other people’s wares. This way, if you aren’t too confident about how to price your products, you can use others’ pricing schemes as a gauge for your own. The beauty of these sites is that your wares can be instantly categorized so anyone looking for hand crafted jewelry has a big likelihood of stumbling upon your stuff.
The downside of this is of course, the competition. While handmade jewelry pieces can be considered one-of-a-kind, the handmade jewelry niche is by no means a unique one.
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How people spend time online [infographic]

Google, Facebook and Mobile Flush Groupon Down the Toilet

Online daily deal provider Groupon, once the darling of Wall Street, has had its share of woes in recent months. Its stock is down over 50% from November's IPO price, thanks in part to a pending SEC investigation of the company’s Q4 2011 earnings restatement (actual net revenue was significantly lower when refunds to consumers for unused deals were factored in). In addition, merchants are beginning to pull back from Groupon, surveying their options in an increasingly crowded geo-local marketing landscape that includes the likes of Yelp, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Living Social and Foursquare, to name a few.

In his yearly letter to shareholders released Monday, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason tried to rally the troops by announcing his vision to re-shape the company into a one-stop marketing solution for local merchants, or as he put it, “the operating system for local commerce.”
Unfortunately for Groupon, Mason’s vision does not mesh with reality. The truth is, the daily deals site has already seen its best days, and will soon be marginalized by its competitors, especially Google and Facebook, who are rolling out geo-local couponing programs that will suck the air out of Groupon’s market share.
As smartphone adoption continues to grow nationwide, nearly three-quarters of smartphone owners are accessing their mobile devices to get location-based information in real time. A new study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that about 74% of smartphone users utilize location-based services to find information. In addition, one in five (18%) are checking in to local businesses with geo-social services like Foursquare.¹
Facebook and Google have responded in kind to this trend toward mobile-based local marketing.
On May 3rd, Facebook rolled out its new local marketing platform, Facebook Offers, to all local U.S. companies. With Offers, businesses can distribute coupons or other promotions to fans directly through their news feeds. Facebook isn’t charging anything for the service, and when a Facebook user claims an Offer, his or her friends will see it in their news feed, further amplifying its reach.
Less than a week later (May 9th), Google announced its latest update for Google Maps for Android that supports Google’s Groupon-like daily deal platform, Google Offers. With the new update, local merchants can attract customers to their storefront with free giveaways or coupons that Android users can see pop-up in real time on Google Maps.
This is not good news for Groupon, considering Facebook has nearly 500 million fairly engaged mobile users. Groupon, on the other hand, cannot boast a huge social media or search platform. As such, the daily deal site is dependent on people going out of their way to engage with its mobile app when looking for offers. The problem is, if people don’t find any relevant offers on Groupon’s mobile app, they might give up and jump on Facebook or Google, where they’re much more likely to stay engaged. It’s more advantageous for platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google to insert on-site offers because people are already there.²
As Facebook and Google adapt to the dramatic consumer shift to mobile, Groupon’s days are numbered. Each will utilize economies-of-scale coupled with their massive reach to outflank Groupon, while smaller players like Yelp and Foursquare continue to nibble away at Groupon's market share one merchant at a time.
I fear that before it’s all over, Andrew Mason and crew will be wishing they had taken Google up on the $6 billion buyout offer while they had the chance.
For small businesses trying to shape a marketing strategy, the intense competition in the geo-local business space is a good thing, especially with the relevant players tripping over themselves to offer your brand a better deal.
Whatever you do, make sure to experiment with various platforms, and avoid committing to any large ad spend or long-term contract until you’re absolutely sure you’ve found the golden goose. Above all, remember that in today’s era of frenetic marketing-tech innovation, the only certainty is change.
By: Chris Horton / Socialmediatoday