free html hit counter February 2004 - Page 4 of 12 - John Battelle's Search Blog

NYT, Wired Weighs In

By - February 22, 2004

As predicted, the big boys have turned their attention to the Yahoo-Google story. The NYT has a piece today (I’m quoted, I’m quite sure it’s one of the few times “full-tilt boogie” has made it into a business story) giving an overview of the Yahoo side, and Wired, in a cover package, pretty much runs what’s left of the Google story into the ground.

Now, I’m not going to spend *too* much time on this, but I did give the Wired package, which runs 15 pages – an eternity for most magazines – a hard read over the weekend. It fails on all kinds of levels. (When they post it, the package will be here.) And yet, it succeeded on the meta level, which is to say: Google *is* a huge story in the Wired space, and should be treated as such.

(more in extended entry below)

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Signs of Marketing Prowess To Come…

By - February 20, 2004

Via Wonk…Toyota sponsors section of eBay….this exclusive arrangement points to where online marketing is going. Why? Because major advertisers are looking for traction in the medium where the customers are…and that’s this one. I smell a significant uptick in online advertising this year, far larger than what is predicted…

Proof of Search's Powers…

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Look no further than this. BBC reports that via internet research, a boy found out that his mother abducted him (when he was young), told his teacher, teacher told authorities, mom’s in jail. Yow.

Posting Will Slow, Disneyland Ho…

By - February 19, 2004

I’m off to take my two older kids to Disneyland (it’s their winter break week). So posting will slow. Lemme know if there’s anything we can’t miss down in Ahaheim…

WSJ Does A Test

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Beal points us to a WSJ article comparing the new Yahoo search with Google. The paper threads the needle and doesn’t have an opinion on who’s best, saying it depends. Sigh. We’ll have to wait till the pros at SEWatch do it right.

Scraping Orkut

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I’m late on this, but apparently someone has scraped data off orkut and developed an app that shows how close other orkut users are to a particular zip code or city. Corante has the goods here. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it’s against orkut’s Terms of Service – it explicitly says you are not allowed to scrape data. Second, it’s cool, and an example of what can be done when the web is viewed as an application. It points to something worth paying attention to.

Industry Brains: Context and Quality Matters, Slashdot Added

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Logo_IndustryBrains.gifI’ve found this company popping up a lot lately. Their model is interesting and they seem to address an evolutionary problem in the paid search field. Industry Brains is essentially a pay-per-click network, like Overture or AdSense, but one that offers advertisers the ability to insure their ad is placed in specific vertical content areas, such as IT. The model basically asserts that there is value (and profit) in the voice and focus of an editorial site, as opposed to the unvariegated sweep of Overture and AdSense. This approach promises to raise the advertising revenues of niche sites which draw influential but smaller audiences. Such sites to date have not been able to make much of a go at it with AdSense alone.

The problem IndustryBrains solves sets up this way: Say you’re an advertiser interested in selling laptops to IT professionals. if you were to buy laptop-related keywords on AdSense or Overture’s Content Match, your ad could be placed anywhere on their vast networks, as long as a site on that network has the keywords which trigger your ad. This leads to your laptop ads being attached to general interest news sites, or blogs, or literary sites which might mention laptops in a totally unrelated context (funny example here). When you buy IndustryBrains’ network, your ad will only be shown on sites like ComputerWorld, CNET, and, in a move that is bound to give them some serious geek cred, Slashdot. (I heard this through a reader and industry colleague who passed along an IndustryBrains announcement, I can’t find anything about it on their site or on Slashdot.)

This is a natural evolution in the paid search market. I’m sure it’d be pretty easy for Google and Yahoo to develop these kind of vertical buys (if they haven’t already). As soon as it’s proven that there’s money to made, they will. I certainly hope there is. IndustryBrain’s PPC pricing is above typical AdSense pricing, for good reason. They are delivering more qualified audience, which is the essence of what good publishing is about. The site even has a search tool that let’s you see the cost per click in real time for any search term.

If any of you out there have tried this, let us know how it went!

(thanks to Hylton and Gary and Jeff for forcing thought on this)

Google's Brin on AdSense; Watch DCLK

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Editor&Publisher interviews Sergey Brin via email, and while his responses have clearly been given a once-over by Google’s professional PR staff, this response struck me as a bad omen for the DoubleClicks of the world:

2. Many newspapers are publishing display ads on the Web, with photos and graphics. Will AdSense evolve beyond text-based advertising? Or is text the best medium for these types of ads?

SB: At this point, text ads are the best solution for our users, advertisers and partners. However, online advertising, especially contextual advertising, is evolving rapidly. Google is committed to a leadership position in online advertising technology and we continue to explore new technologies in every aspect of targeting, delivery and display.

In other words, it won’t be long before Google combines the contextual relevance of AdSense text links with more brand-driven, rich media ad units. And that means they start becoming a major ad serving service in the vein of Doubleclick and its kin. Perhaps Google simply buys DCLK, which Safa recently claimed is undervalued. It could make a lot of sense…if Yahoo/Overture doesn’t get there first. I’m not a stock picker, nor a seer, so don’t hold me to this. Just noting an interesting trend.