Monday, February 28, 2011

Google's latest algorithm changes causing SEO frustration

Google's latest algorithm changes are causing a bit of a stir. Here's an article from CNN's tech online.

Websites to Google: 'You're killing our business!' By David Goldman, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Google made one of the biggest changes ever to its search results this week, which immediately had a noticeable effect on many Web properties that rely on the world's biggest search engine to drive traffic to their sites.

The major tweak aims to move better quality content to the top of Google's search rankings. The changes will affect 12% Google's results, the company said in a blog post late Thursday.

"Our goal is simple: to give users the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible," said Gabriel Stricker, Google spokesman. "This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content -- both good and bad -- comes online all the time. Recently we've heard from our users that they want to see fewer low quality sites in our results."

Typically, Google's algorithm changes are so subtle that few people notice them. But these most recent changes could be seen immediately.

How to test the change: The IP address displays Google search results as they would have appeared before the recent algorithm change, according to several webmasters posting to the forum.

Google would not confirm that IP address uses the older algorithm, but comparing searches of trending topics on with searches using the special Google IP address reveals how the search engine now seems to be favoring certain content.

The changes appear to be affecting so-called "content farms" the most, which are websites that amass content based on the most-searched terms of the day. Demand Media, AOL, Mahalo and the Huffington Post have all been accused of such tactics, including a notable "story" from HuffPo about the Super Bowl that media critic Jack Shafer called "the greatest example of SEO whoring of all time."

Tests using trending topics show Google's tweaks in action.

The current top Google result for a search of Charlie Sheen rant target "Haim Levine" is a New York Daily News page, followed by a story from The old algorithm would have featured two Huffington Post stories at the top, with the New York Daily News story not appearing appear until the second results page.

A controversial decision: Any change to Google's algorithm is a zero-sum game. Some websites win, some lose.

Comments from site operators lit up on the forum starting on Wednesday. Many webmasters complained that traffic to their sites dropped dramatically overnight, and others expressed concern that they can't adapt quickly enough to Google's changes to its algorithm.

"Why is it that every single time the search engine result page starts to stabilize and sales return, Google has to throw a monkey wrench in the system again?" asked commenter backdraft7. "Hey Google, this is not fun anymore - YOU'RE KILLING OUR BUSINESSES!"

"My God. I just lost 40% of my traffic from Google today," said commenter DickBaker. "Referrals from Yahoo, Bing, direct sources, and other sources are the same, but Google dropped like a rock."

There are many legitimate ways content creators optimize their sites to rise to the top of Google's results. But Google has been cracking down on what it regards as inappropriate attempts to do so: The company recently penalized and JC Penney in its search results after the companies were found to have set up fake websites that linked to their own, causing Google's algorithm to rank them higher.

When it comes to site content, the lines get very fuzzy. Operators like Demand Media (DMD) -- which now has a market valuation of $1.9 billion, more than the New York Times Co. is worth -- sit right on the ever-shifting boundaries.

"Sites of this type have always been controversial," said Daniel Ruby, research director at Chitika, Inc. a search advertising analytics company. "On one hand, they often do produce extremely informative, well-written articles. On the other hand, they put out countless articles on a daily basis, and some claim they exist only to generate the top result on as many keywords as possible."

Demand put out a very carefully worded response to Google's changes.

"As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search results," Larry Fitzgibbon, the company's executive vice president of media and operations, wrote in a blog post. "It's impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term -- but at this point in time, we haven't seen a material net impact."

So will Google's changes have a lasting effect on search quality? Perhaps. But it's an arms race: Any time the company adjusts its algorithms, those determined to beat them immediately adjust.

"Content originators make money, and Google makes money," said Whit Andrews, analyst for Gartner. "Their interests will always be in conflict, and as long as there is greed, people will try to game system." To top of page

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A great use of video online from Toyota

This whole approach targets a 25 plus demographic with a hip, retro Madmen-esque approach. It's fun, and a great use of video and greenscreening.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays -

Cutting through the clutter of promoting a new online business is not easy. Advertisers are now getting bottle necked trying to cut through and make their url part of your decision process. Here's a conventional television commercial for

Humour is always a great brand builder and this commercial has the same feel as the highly popular Capital One. The production values are excellent and this fires on all cylinders

Here's a second commercial in the series. A very well executed 15 second commercial. It gives the client a lot more latitude to enhance the impressions without the budget commitments of 30's.

We love it when a commercial focuses the humour around the main selling point of the product. These commercials definitely "drive" the message home. Sorry.

Have a great weekend. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Who will be Steve Jobs successor?

With Steve Jobs recent departure from Apple for his third bout with serious health issues, it's raised concerns among share holders on who will maintain the course.

Indications are pointing towards Phil Schiller. His name has been bandied about as far back as three years ago in a Fortune article.

In the latest departure, Apple has again picked Tim Cook, the company's chief operating officer, to step into Mr Jobs's shoes. The company awarded Mr Cook $59.1m in pay last year, including a bonus for running Apple during Mr Jobs's medical leave in 2009.

Besides the issue of succession, Mr Cook will also face questions over the next product Apple is planning. Mr Cook, who has been with Apple since 1998, told analysts last month that he is very confident about the company's product pipeline. It has been reported that the company is planning to unveil a new version of the iPad at an event in San Francisco next week.

Source (The Telegraph - UK)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What are cellphones doing to your brain?

A new report out updates earlier findings on what is happening to your squishy grey matter between your ears when you constantly hold a cell phone up to it.

Courtesy of Mashable - here are the details.

A study published in tomorrow’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms what researchers have long suspected: that long conversations on cellphones affect parts of your brain. Trouble is, not even the study’s authors, the National Institute of Health, know how the calls affect you — just that they light up a significant chunk of your gray matter near the phone.

“We don’t know whether this is detrimental or whether it could have some potential beneficial effects. We don’t know one way or the other,” lead author Dr. Nora Volkow told HealthDay.

Potential beneficial effects? Well, yes. The study tracked 47 mobile-toting participants for a year and discovered that brain metabolism in a small area nearest the antenna was 7% higher when they were on a 50-minute call, meaning cellphones boost brain activity (they raise glucose levels). Doesn’t sound so bad when put like that, does it? For all we know, blasting your brain with focused radio waves could be the mental equivalent of going to the gym. Glucose levels rise with just about any complex brain activity. For example, that 7% metabolism boost is less than the amount of energy it takes to process images via your eyes.

Of course, for all we know, the long-term effects could be pretty scary. Tumor cells need a lot of glucose, too. But that may be no more than coincidence. Researchers were careful to tiptoe around the C-word. And with good reason: as Ars Technica points out, in biology, there is absolutely no known mechanism that could lead from low-energy, long-wavelength radiation to cancer. A giant, 13-nation study begun in 2000 still hasn’t found any proof linking the two. Cellphone users, science is on your side — for now.

Bottom line: We know relatively little about brain science and even less about cellphone use. More research is needed for a definitive answer. We’ve all heard anecdotes from friends about how calls give them headaches or a buzzing sensation. They could be right, or they could be hypochondriacs. Maybe cellphones affect each brain differently. At the moment, there’s just no way of telling.

If you’re concerned, be like Dr. Volkow — who told TIME that she’s started using a $5 headset so she doesn’t have to hold her phone to her ear any more. “Maybe at the end of the day cell phones aren’t damaging,” she said. “But it’s only $5.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cokes happiness truck goes viral

What do you get when you take one Coke truck, fill it with gifts, and send it into a small Spanish town? A viral video that becomes an internet sensation.

Let's face it, Coke is about as far from health food as you can get. But their message is simple. Have a Coke, forget about the drudgery of life for a few hours and just enjoy yourself. It was a carefully planned real life promotion, caught on video by a clandestine crew (some even shooting through two way glass from inside the truck) and loaded up on Youtube. Watch for a lot more of these style video releases in future.

Monday, February 21, 2011

YouTube as a dating site? 10 interesting YouTube facts

YouTube has been around officially for 6 years now. They turned the lights on Valentines day, 2005. Courtesy of Mashable and writer Amy Mae Elliot, here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about YouTube.

YouTube is huge. Humongous, even. More video content is uploaded to YouTube in a 60 day period than the three major U.S. television networks created in 60 years.

The average YouTube user spends between 15 and 25 minutes a day on the site, but how much do we know about the world’s largest video sharing website? Do you know what the most watched YouTube clip is? Can you name all three founders? Do you know how many times per minute a YouTube link is tweeted?

There is a ton of interesting data, info and stats to be learned about YouTube — we’ve delved deep to find 10 fascinating facts. Have a read and let us know which ones you didn’t know in the comments below.

1. PayPal’s Role in YouTube’s Creation

YouTube was created by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim in 2005. The three founders knew each other from working together at another Internet start up, PayPal. In fact, Hurley designed the PayPal logo after reading a Wired article about the online payment company and e-mailing the startup in search of a job. YouTube was initially funded by bonuses received following the eBay buy-out of PayPal. You could argue that if there was no PayPal, there would be no YouTube.

2. YouTube’s Origins as a Dating Site

The founding trio didn’t come up with the YouTube concept straight away. Legend has it that YouTube began life as a video dating site dubbed “Tune In Hook Up,” said to be influenced by HotorNot. The three ultimately decided not to go that route. The inspiration for YouTube as we know it today is credited to two different events. The first was Karim’s inability to find footage online of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction,” and the second when Hurley and Chen were unable to share video footage of a dinner party due to e-mail attachment limitations.

3. YouTube Caused Problems For Utube

The domain name was registered on Valentine’s Day in 2005. This, however, caused a huge misunderstanding for Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment based in Perrysburg, Ohio. Its company domain, “,” was overwhelmed with traffic from people that tried to spell the video site’s name phonetically. The manufacturing company sued YouTube claiming its business was damaged by the video site, but the claims were dismissed. Nowadays, it seems Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment has bowed to the inevitable — its business site has been moved to and the original is a video-themed landing page for bad spellers.

4. The First Ever YouTube Video

The first video to ever be uploaded to YouTube isn’t a classic by any means. Shot by Yakov Lapitsky at the San Diego Zoo it shows co-founder Jawed Karim in front of the elephant enclosure going on about long trunks. It has, nonetheless, racked up a very healthy 4,282,497 views since its online debut on April 23, 2005.

5. The First Rickroll

The first instance of a “Rickroll” appeared on YouTube way back in 2007. Apparently, it is the evolution of a 4chan prank that originally “duckrolled” users via links that led to a duck on wheels. Now a classic in its own right, the Rickroll has become what must be the most common online practical joke. Back in 2008, at the height of the phenomenon, a SurveyUSA poll suggested over 18 million U.S. adults had been Rickrolled — perhaps more, given that Rick Astley himself participated in a mass-Rickrolling in that year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Although Rickrolling has perhaps now had its day, we imagine that figure has easily doubled.

6. YouTube’s Annual April Fools Pranks

For the last three years YouTube has pranked its millions of users every April Fools Day. The first was a classic — every video on the site’s homepage was actually a Rickroll. In 2009 YouTube turned the site upside down and in 2010 an attempt to reduce bandwidth costs saw a “TEXTp” mode introduced, which translated colors in the videos into text. We can’t wait to see what YouTube has in store for 2011.

7. Some Jaw-Dropping YouTube Statistics

As of February 2011, YouTube has 490 million unique users worldwide per month, who rack up an estimated 92 billion page views each month. We spend around 2.9 billion hours on YouTube in a month — over 325,000 years. And those stats are just for the main YouTube website — they don’t incorporate embedded videos or video watched on mobile devices.

8. YouTube’s Social Stats

Social media-related YouTube stats are just as impressive. YouTube says that on average there are more than 400 tweets per minute containing a YouTube link. Meanwhile, over on Facebook over 150 years worth of YouTube videos are watched every single day.

9. The Most Viewed, Liked and Favorited Video

Not counting music videos (which due to licensing restrictions are often shown only in the U.S. on YouTube), the most viewed video of all time is the classic “Charlie bit my finger,” with an astounding 282,151,886 (at the time of writing). When you include music videos from the U.S.-only VEVO site, then the crown goes to Justin Beiber, whose “Baby” video has over 466 million views and counting.

Did you know you can view the “YouTube Charts” at any time to see continually updated info about what’s popular?

10. The YouTube “Snake” Easter Egg Game

YouTube has a fun Easter egg that will let you play a Snake-esque game within the video window. The clip above will give you a demo, but it’s simple to execute if you’re keen to try it out. Head over to YouTube, click on a recent video from any category, pause it and then hit the left and up arrow keys at the same time. Enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - Old Navy changes direction

I have to admit, I haven't been a fan of the Old Navy mannequin commercials. But then again, I'm not a 12 year old girl.
They're fun, I'll give them that. But the mannequin idea really seemed more like a one off, as opposed to a two year brand connection.

The new campaign is pop and Gaga inspired with the lead being called "Super Jennie"
It's not terribly original, but very polished and should definitely be a hit with the tweens and teens.

Some would say that The Gap invented casual hip style marketing dating back twenty years or more. Remember the subway ads with icons like Steve McQueen wearing gap inspired fashion? This talked to "the grownups". Agnes Farside had an interesting blog a while back that really showed the gap ( no pun intended ) between the under 25's and over 30's.
Even though The Gap owns Old Navy, they definitely have separate camps when it comes to marketing approaches.

This creative from last year speaks volumes to the 25 and up market.

Gap, keep it coming. Old Navy, keep trying.

Have a great weekend - and thanks for reading. As always your comments, and contributions are always welcome.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Canada marketing hard for Chinese tourist dollars

[ Canadian Tourism says ‘hello’ to China in first consumer campaign ]

February 16, 2011 | Kristin Laird | Comments Marketing Magazine

The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) launched its first consumer-focused advertising campaign in China this week, targeting high-spending travellers.

The “Say hello to Canada” campaign promotes tourist destinations like Whistler, Banff, Niagara Falls and Ottawa, and will run in leading newspapers and travel and lifestyle magazines such as Shanghai Weekly, The Bund, and regional editions of National Geographic.

“We are aiming primarily at affluent, high-spend and well-educated 25- to 34-year-olds in this initial campaign,” said Derek Galpin, CTC managing director China/India, in a release. “Our research shows that they are the most inclined to long-haul travel, and then to get out and explore Canada once they arrive.”

Additionally, the campaign will run on social media and video-sharing sites, search engines and micro blogs as well as travel, lifestyle, news and culinary websites.

The campaign became possible only after China granted Canada “Approved Destination Status” last June.

“This time next year, CTC expects significant growth from the China market linked to additional air capacity, our advertising and promotional campaigns, and partner support,” said Greg Klassen, senior vice-president of marketing strategy & communications at the CTC.

China says it will deliver 100 million international travellers worldwide by 2020. The CTC estimates this could generate an additional $300 million a year in tourism revenues for Canada by 2015.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Apple and Google redefining print subscription business models

First Apple announced they would be allowing you to receive your magazines, newspapers and digital content via Itunes on a subscription basis (at a tidy 30% commission), and now Google has jumped into the digital distribution game.

Here is an article from Mashable talking about Googles participation.

Google Announces New Payment System for Digital Publishers

Monday, February 14, 2011

Obit - Andrew Ehrenberg, marketing pioneer

Courtesy of this obit talks about an advertising research pioneer who passed away recently. Great insight on how consumer's minds work.

Obit - Andrew Ehrenberg, marketing pioneer
LONDON: Andrew Ehrenberg, the pioneering market researcher and influential academic, died late last week.

Ehrenberg's interests centred upon establishing empirical generalisations applicable in areas like brand buying, TV viewing, consumer attitudes and reactions to price changes. (A wide-ranging summary of his contribution to the industry is available here.)

Among his landmark findings were the Negative Binomial Distribution (NBD) model of buying, ultimately extended to cover brand choice via the NBD-Dirichlet model.

The idea of "Double Jeopardy" proved particularly important, in arguing that a big brand will possess a greater number of loyal customers than a similar, smaller rival almost entirely because of its scale.

More specifically, it suggested that repeat buying and other loyalty measures do not vary greatly between individual brands, meaning that increases in penetration are typically behind any growth in sales.

One consequence of this finding for marketers was that the most cost-effective use of resources may be to "nudge" occasional customers to buy, rather than trying to "squeeze more out of" dedicated clientele.

"With hindsight, I was probably always aiming at findings that were both simple and generalisable," Ehrenberg wrote in an article looking back over his 50 year career, published in 2006.

"But this neat aim became explicit only slowly. At first I just unthinkingly did what I did. It seemed natural – like the bits of science I had picked up at school. I didn't set out to be different."

Born in Germany in 1926, his family sought asylum in the UK in 1939, and Ehrenberg went on to study at Queen's College, Taunton, followed by spells at Newcastle University and the University of Cambridge.

In 1951, he began a three-year stint as a lecturer in Statistics at the Institute of Psychiatry, located at Maudsley Hospital in London.

During the late 1950s, Ehrenberg moved to the Attwood Consumer Panel, a precursor of TNS, and then founded Aske Research, working alongside Gerald Goodhardt and Martin Collins.

In 1970, he was named as Chair of Marketing and Communication at the London Business School, where he remained for 23 years, in time assuming a Research Chair.

In 1993, he took the role of Professor of Marketing at London South Bank University, launching the Centre for Research in Marketing, closely associated with the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Research in Marketing at the University of South Australia.

As well as winning the Gold Medal of the UK's Market Research Society twice, in 1969 and 1996, Ehrenberg held an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Statistical Society, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of South Australia in December 2005.

In March 2010, he received the Advertising Research Foundation Great Mind Lifetime Achievement Award.

"We are very sad to lose a legendary figure in marketing, market research and the statistics field," said a statement on the website for the Ehrenberg-Bass institute.

"Over his life Professor Andrew Ehrenberg's contribution to the development of marketing science has been enormous."

All of Andrew Ehrenberg's articles available on Warc can be accessed here.

Data sourced from LSBU/Ehrenberg-Bass Institute; additional content by Warc staff, 1 September 2010

Friday, February 11, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays -Superbowl commercial wrap up

Well all the commercials from Sunday's big game have been pretty much viralled around and digested. Thank you for all your comments from last week's Superbowl "classics" survey. There was no clear cut winner, but a lot of sentiment went to the Betty White commercial. Probably because it's more recent in our minds, and let's face it, it was a classic.

And after a week of viralling and discussion, this year's Superbowl winner appears to be Volkswagon's "The Force". But again, the poll is skewed according to age, demographics etc as younger viewers tended to favour spots like the "Doritos finger sucking, pants stealing man."

Here are the spots for 2011 courtesy of

Have a great weekend. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Old Spice guy takes his show on the road

The much viraled Old Spice guy is back, and he's taking his show on the road. Through the magic of green screen and a few other tricks, he's in Tahiti, underwater, and back at his love pad with his chocolate fountain of love.

Another great spot in the series.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TV's news channels bleak according to Globe and Mail

A proposed CRTC regulatory change to ease standards for radio and TV in terms of broadcasting “false or misleading news" is concerning a lot of people in Canada. The launch of the new, Fox news style format, Sun TV is also causing eyebrows to raise.

The article also points out there are changes at the top of CTV. Credible professionals are exiting. Susanne Boyce, president creative and content services, is reportedly leaving in March and Alon Marcovici, executive vice president of digital media and head of the online coverage of the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver, is also on the way out.

Companies routinely need to refresh the ranks, however I hope that this is not a sign of a change of direction. CTV has a strong sense of history and ethics and we can only hope they are not acting in advance of curious eyeballs who will be peering at the spectacle the new Sun TV no doubt will become.

Canadian news has always had a stellar reputation on par with the BBC. We can only hope this reputation remains in tact.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Groupon ads feel more like Sat Night Live then serious advertising

Groupon is taking some heat right now for their laissez faire attitude with their recent commercial that aired during Superbowl. Timothy Hutton begins narrating the seriousness of the slow erosion of the Tibetan culture. In a very light tone he then goes on to say.. essentially..that it's all good because Groupon gives him and his friends half off on Tibetan food at a Chicago restaurant.

I think the ad group who designed this ad missed the boat. It is bringing thousands of additional impressions because of the controversy; but the negative brand attachment offsets any impression benefits.

You be the judge.

Monday, February 7, 2011

And the envelope please... Volkswagon

Well the votes have been counted.. at least the ones in my little head.. and the winner from yesterdays Supercommercial contest was Volkswagon. It was obviously written by a parent, or future parent. It got completely into the head of the consumer and was just adorable. More on all of the spots on Friday's Creative Excellence blog, but now..on with the winner.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - The greatest superbowl spots ever made

Well the big event is this Sunday. And apparently they'll be playing a football game too.
The real event being, well Fergie in the halftime show, followed by the commercials of course.
I'd like to thank Ad Age for doing most of the work this week. They recently compiled a list of the greatest Superbowl spots of all time. They were compiled by category. The full list and additional Superbowl commercials are here if your all time favourite was missed.

Monkey spots; Coke spots; Pepsi spots; Car spots; Critter commercials; Worst Super Bowl ads; Anheuser-Busch spots.

Now, on with the spots. Watch, and let us know your favourite, and we'll pass the results on next week when we feature this year's crop.


Note: In some cases we've gone with a descriptive title rather than the spot's actual title to help clarify things in our poll.

1. Super Bowl VII (1973) Noxzema: Joe Namath & Farah Fawcett

2. Super Bowl XVIII (1984) Alan Alda for Atari Computers

3. Super Bowl XXI (1987) Michael J Fox for Diet Pepsi

4. Super Bowl XXI (1987) Pierce Brosnan and ninjas for Diet Coke

5. Super Bowl XXII (1988) Demi Moore for Diet Coke

6. Super Bowl XXII (1988) Jimmy Connors for Nestle Crunch

7. Super Bowl XXVI (1992) Michael Jordan/Bugs Bunny for Nike

8. Super Bowl XXVI (1992) Pepsi: Cindy Crawford in "New Can"

9. Super Bowl XXVII (1993) Michael Jordan and Larry Bird for McDonald's

10. Super Bowl XXVIII (1994) Michael Richards, Cindy Crawford and Rodney Dangerfield for Pepsi

11. Super Bowl XXIX (1995) Dennis Hopper for Nike

12. Super Bowl XXX (1996) Jack Palance for Ford

13. Super Bowl XXXVI (2002) Pepsi: Britney Spears, Generations

14. Super Bowl XLIII (2009) Cash 4 Gold: Ed McMahon and MC Hammer

15. Super Bowl XLIII (2009) Alec Baldwin for Hulu

16. Super Bowl XLIV (2010) Megan Fox for Motorola

17. Super Bowl XLIV (2010) Betty White/Abe Vigoda for Snickers

18. Super Bowl XLIV (2010) Letterman, Leno and Oprah in CBS promo

19. Super Bowl XLI (2007) Robert Goulet for Emerald Nuts

Pass on your favourite, and your comments. Enjoy the game!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Social media is reinventing activism

Social media is enabling groups, communities, countries, to communicate much faster. The current situation in Egypt is attributing much of it's essence to social media. So much so that Hosni Mubarak ordered the internet shut down. Resourceful individuals found ways to get back "on" the information highway. It appears the internet, and social media can not be stopped. It's now about implementing "mob rule" responsibly.

There is much being said online this week with online petitions and facebook pages of outrage over the proposed internet caps that the large provider entities are implementing in Canada.
One group called has 357,000 people signed to their petition.

Social media is here to stay. Topics, issues will be discussed now at lightning speed; sometimes without proper gestation.

We can only hope that, as always, saner heads prevail and social media is used in a responsible way.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Google launches streetview for museums

If you enjoy your Picasso, but live in a real world budget you probably aren't able to stand in front of the masters as much as you'd like.

And you're probably choosy about where your travel and museum dollars go. Along comes Google's street view museum feature. It allows you to do a virtual walk through to get a "taste" of the museums before actually committing to a full on art vacation.

Brilliant idea and definitely not as good as the real thing. But definitely enough to merit how you plan your culture fix.