free html hit counter March 2004 | Page 5 of 12 | John Battelle's Search Blog

Eric S. At PC Forum

By - March 22, 2004

ericsListening to Eric speak here at PC Forum. He’s already made a few interesting comments. First, he dodged the IPO question. Then, in response to a question about Google’s business model, he made an interesting declaration: He went on a practiced riff about the media business, how large it is, and how many “platform players” can thrive and no one approach will win. In other words, Eric views Google as a media company, or at least that’s the take I came away with. That is new, last time we spoke, Google was a technology company driven by media revenues…

Eric also told an anecdotal story about the “Don’t Be Evil” mandate at Google. Early in his tenure, when he still felt it was a bit odd for a company to be run by such a rule, he was in a meeting where a (unspecified) idea was tossed out, and one of the employees yelled out “That’s Evil!!” A lengthy debate ensued. Eric pointed out that Google’s culture has built in DNA around what is and is not evil, and when something comes up that might be evil, employees bring up an “evil alert.” I dunno. I still think it’s potentially dangerous for this kind of ad hoc, socially driven morality to drive cultures within large media companies.

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All My Covers Are Google

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nw_152_magcover_040320Newsweek couldn’t help themselves. In fact, I think there are more Google covers this past year than Jesus covers. Jesus!

Steven Levy (a friend) does a fine job summarizing that which we already know from reading the last dozen or so articles. And Sergey and Larry play along, giving him lots of time at the ‘plex. The angle: Google has competitors now. Google isn’t that worried. Best quote: From Anna Patterson, late of the Internet Archive, new to Google:

“(MSFT search engineers are) a bunch of people at the first grade,” she says. “Eight junior programmers who don’t know anything about search.”

Yow.

Just Announced: Microsoft Will Clean Up Its Search Act

By - March 19, 2004

msft_118x35This just in, from the folks at MSFT PR: Today MSN will announce that beginning July 1, MSN Search will clearly delineate paid ads from organic search results, with the result being that organic (or algorithmic) results will be above the fold (the top half of the page) for the first time since…well since recent memory.

This is clearly an opportunistic announcement (timed as it is in the wake of the Yahoo CAP dust up), but I must say, it’s a welcome one. Bravo, Microsoft, and I hope the execution lives up to the context and timing of this release. I’ve complained over and over about how crappy MSN search is, mainly due to the fact that you can’t see the organic forest for the commercialized trees. According to an email I received from MSFT PR informing me of this, “The changes are being made to allow better positioning of sponsored links based on relevancy. These changes are a result of a series of consumer testing to determine user satisfaction and search relevancy with various UIs.”

If I’m reading this right, MSN tested the idea that clearly labeling ads equates to more ads being clicked on and a better overall experience for the consumer, and found out – Holy Shit! – the hypothesis proves out.

Other highlights (again, quoting the email):

- MSN’s Search Featured Sites (SFS) and other paid listings will be outlined and the background shaded, and designated at “sponsored.”
- The number of paid links in the SFS will now number up to three (reduced from up to 4).
- MSN will now have up to one Editor’s Featured Site (EFS) below the SFS
- The right rail will continue to include up to 5 Overture paid search links.
- Overture continues to have sponsored links in the right rail

Lite Day Friday: Off to LA

By - March 18, 2004

I’m off to Pasadena Friday to spend the morning with Gary Flake, who runs Yahoo Labs (he was Chief Scientist at Overture prior to the acquisition).

Posting will be light, I suspect, till the weekend. Sunday I head to PC Forum, where I’m meeting a whole lotta folks. If any readers are coming out that way, ping me at jbat at battellemedia.com.

Finally, a reminder. If you want to receive the next copy of “Re-Find”, the treble entendre-entitled newsletter that summarizes a whole week of Searchblog in one simple email, put your email in the box to the left of this post. Thanks to all who got last week’s first issue and bothered to send me “Hey I Like It” emails. Much appreciated.

Happy Weekend!

Here's How To Save AOL: Google Stock

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AOLThe details are out: AOL owns warrants to exercise 1.9 million or so shares of Google at a price of $22 million. A quick calculation says that’s a price of roughly $11.50 a share. This is due to a deal the two companies struck as part of their 2002 partnership. It came to light in Time Warner’s recent 10-K filing.

So…if Google goes all Priceline on its opening day and stays there (there’s probably a lock up on selling), that stock just might be worth ten times that amount, or more than $200 million. About as much as AOL is spending on marketing this year….

Note: Yahoo also owns shares – a lot more – in Google.

Cnet story.

All hail Gary for the 10-K URL.

FeedBurner: Know Your RSS Readers

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feedburnerFeedburner purports to solve a problem which I noted here. Should a blogger know who is reading them via RSS? As a publisher who has had loads of email newsletters, I like knowing who is subscribed. But shouldn’t RSS readers have the right to anonymity?

Feedburner, which I heard of from Fred Wilson, creates a feed which provides information on readers back to the publisher. Seems to me, publishers can give the reader a choice, and provide more service if the reader chooses to declare the relationship.

From the site:

What is it?

FeedBurner enhances your current RSS or Atom feeds in a variety of ways that YOU control, while simultaneously providing personalized usage and trend statistics that describe how your feed is being used.

How does it work?

1. Enter your syndication URL in the field at the top of the page.

2. On the subsequent page, select which services you would like FeedBurner to perform for you and your feed.

3. Use the new HTML that FeedBurner gives you for your syndicated feed, and we’ll do the rest. Your FeedBurner home page will begin to track and report your feed usage statistics for you.

To learn more about how FeedBurner works, check out the FAQ.