free html hit counter February 2004 - Page 7 of 12 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Advocacy: Not At Google, Either

By - February 13, 2004

We all got peeved when CBS said no to MoveOn, but this kind of policy is quite widespread. Google also does not allow advocacy ads, in particular ads that criticize other people or companies (their terms are here). Latest news on this front: An environmental organization that had purchased AdWords like “cruise ship” has been bounced from Google. Why? It ran ads next to the results which pointed out that cruise ships pollute the ocean (which they do, often spewing out raw sewage near coastlines. Not that the couple at left seem to mind…).

Google (and Overture) have to tread a thin line here between free speech, the law, and protecting its more lucrative clients (travel sites are huge paid search customers). Clearly this action is well within Google’s rights as per its contract. But shouldn’t Google be a bit more like the New York Times, which accepts these kind of issue ads, and a bit less like CBS? I certainly hope so.

(thanks, Dave)

Update: I’ve been pointed, by the author, to this site, which defends Google’s approach and slams Oceana. Every story has more than one side…and it seems to me that Google may well have been in the right here, at least arguably so. I do believe, however, that in the longer term, search engines will have to figure out how to deal with an advocay group’s need (but not right?) to use that medium as a public forum.

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Ramsay, Weiner, Kapor

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Today I’ll not be posting much till later, as I have book-related interviews with Jeff Weiner (SVP/Search at Yahoo), Mike Ramsay (CEO TiVo) and Mitch Kapor (Open Source Applications Foundation, Lotus, Nutch board, et al).

What do you want to know from these folks?

Lycos: Can't Win in Search, Turns to Social Networking

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logo_lycos_50high.gifLycos is refocusing its efforts toward social networking services such as dating, finance, and the like, and away from search. Should be interesting to watch. I’ve come to the conclusion that social networks (orkut, friendster) can’t make it alone, they have to be a feature of a larger platform. Not rocket science, I know, but it’s interesting to see Lycos lurch in that direction as well. IAR reports.

The Atom/RSS Fracas

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Can anybody tell me why this is a big deal? This CNET piece makes it seem like there’s a real war between RSS and Atom, but it reads to me like competition, which is good as far as I can tell. I mean in the long run, won’t my aggregators and blogging tools just support both? As a non-technical guy, can someone give me the shorthand on why this matters that much? I’m not being flip (it may sound that way), I just don’t get it.

P&G Ad Chief: Permission Marketing Or Bust

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In a speech at an advertising conference today, Jim Stengel, P&G marketing chief (and therefore Most Important Guy in the Room) laid down the gauntlet.

“All marketing should be permission marketing. When we think of permission-based marketing, most of us think about opt-in online newsletters. We really need to expand this mentality to all aspects of marketing. … For each element of the marketing mix, we should ask ourselves, ‘Would consumers choose to look at or listen to this,’ and let that be the benchmark.”

Stengel had stinging words for traditional advertising: “This is a $450 billion dollar global industry and we’re all making decisions with less data and discipline than we apply to $100,000 decisions in other aspects of our businesses.”

Ad Age reports.

Neat Tool

By - February 11, 2004

Queryster lets you toggle between a bunch of different search engines on one search. Really cool. Here’s “searchblog” results. (via Beal)

Forrester on Google

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colony.gifGeorge Colony, CEO of Forrester, opines on Google in a registration-required brief released last week. Readers (thank you!) alerted me to this immediately, but the etech conference meant my posting has been and will be slower this week.

Colony begins by effusively praising the company. “The Web has gone through two major phases in its short history: pre-Google and post-Google…Sergei Brin and Larry Page, Google’s founders, may go down in history as the guys who saved the Internet.”” A bit sweeping, IMHO.

But Colony is setting up a straw man, and he goes on to knock it down. “Is Google’s search good? Yes. Is the company worth tens of billions? No.”

Colony is reacting to the (now rather attenuated) Google-Will-Save-The-Valley-Through-A-Huge-IPO meme. He lists three factors that he says proves Google is not worth what the Wall Street crowd is whispering. First, competition – Yahoo, MSFT, etc. Second, low barrier to switching (ie, a better search engine can come along, and folks will simply switch to it). Third, it’s still early in the web ecology, and there will be a lot of change, including a waning of the core value upon which Google is based – the economy of links (Colony argues that XML etc. will change the basic shape of how the web works).

Colony concludes that a Google IPO in the $6 billion range would be defensible, but a $15 billion+ IPO would suck the capital out of the market and be very bad for the tech world. “The company’s primary strategy should be a diversification beyond search and the “we’ve got the best technology” syndrome into a defendable market position,” he says in summary.

There’s really not a lot of new thinking in here, but the response to the piece so far indicates the world was ready to hear this – it’s another course correction in the media’s ongoing love affair with search in general, and Google in particular. It’s also a fine way for Forrester to get some contrarian-tinged PR. The comments section on the piece, again available only if you register, points out some of the weaknesses in Colony’s analysis, in particular the idea that there are no barriers to entry, and that Google is too search focused (orkut, anyone?).