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Overture's Search Optimizer

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overtureOverture today unveiled its Search Optimizer, company officials gave me an overview of it yesterday. This tool – built on top of their Marketing Console and an extension of the technology Overture/Yahoo acquired with Key Lime – is aimed at search marketers who manage a lot of keywords – in the hundreds, if not thousands. It provides one analytic view of a campaign, and has an automated feature that, based on business rules you input, will optimize your campaigns for you. I’m no expert in this field, but I find it a worthy development in that it addresses the extraordinary complexity which has become a reality in search marketing these days. I suggested they make it free, but for now they’re charging an average of $500 a month for the service.

As opposed to the blunt instrument of, say, TV buys, the numbers trend toward the infinite when you are managing thousands of keywords against scores of creative executions in multiple channels (ie Google, Yahoo, FindWhat, etc) across demographic, behavioral, daypart, and other variables. And it will only get more complex in the future. Smaller firms (such as Key Lime) have sprouted up which focus on addressing this issue (and they keep getting bought), but it’s good to see Yahoo also in the game. I imagine Google will need to respond in kind.

By the way, if anyone has experience using this or similar tools to manage a lot of complexity, and has an extraordinary story to tell of how your marketing plans/return/approach shifted due to them, I’d like to talk to you for my book. jbat at battellemedia dot com, thanks!

ClickZ’s coverage.

Watch the Road Show?

By - July 26, 2004

I’ve heard rumors of a Google IPO roadshow via webcast lately, but dismissed them as there are so many regulatory hurdles to such an event, it probably won’t happen. However, Gary recently posted his monthly list of domains registered by Google, and while it’s still uncertain we’ll be able to tune into a Google road show, the domains they’ve grabbed certainly seem to imply the folks at Google have thought about it…     

Update: JH points out that the Journal took the time to read the entire filing, of course, and:

In another indication of its unconventional plans, Google disclosed that it will offer a “virtual” roadshow on a Web site, and included a transcript of the presentation in its SEC filing. Google said the site ( will begin accepting investor registrations in the coming days. The registration period, expected to begin as early as today, will last about five business days, according to a person familiar with the matter. Once the registration period has closed, Google will accept bids for as many as 10 business days, according to people familiar with the situation. Then it will determine the offering price, with the shares expected to begin trading roughly two to three weeks from now, according to these people.

The MyDoom Attack(s)

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Gary and others alert me to the depth and approach taken by what Andy has noted seems to be denial of service attacks on Google – in fact, it’s a virus that uses search engines in a clever and rather simple way to find more addresses. From a message forwarded to me by Gary (full text in continuation below):

MyDoom.O searches user files (DOC TXT HTM and HTML) for domain names, then
uses search engines (Lycos, AltaVista, Yahoo and Google) to search for
“e-mail” and the harvested domain in order to gain access to other email

There is a strong likelihood that web-based lists such as phone books,
memberships, discussion boards and general user home pages will be
harvested by the machine and in turn infect others.

A search on Google using the same “e-mail” + domain method has generated a
“Forbidden” message, which may indicate activity on the part of the search
engines to thwart the virus.

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Search Africa

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jwlogoI know very little, no, less than very little, about the state of search in Africa. But Jamboweb is the first site to cross my desk in that space, so I’ll bite and let you all know about it…

New S1-A; "GOOG" to Price as Early as Today

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nasdaqGoogle filed another amended S-1 today, this article from the FT claims the company will price its shares shortly, also points out that there has been considerable (and predictable) friction between it and Wall St. It also notes that shares in net companies have tumbled lately.

So what’s new in the S-1A? “We anticipate that the initial public offering price will be between $108.00 and $135.00 per share.” They are selling more than 14 million shares, and individuals are selling another 10.5 million. Proposed symbol? GOOG. There’s probably a lot more, but I haven’t time to read the whole thing right now…

Update: The WSJ (sub required) notes that a senior Google official is in trouble with the Feds for some past life stuff:

Google also disclosed that David C. Drummond, its vice president of corporate development, secretary and general counsel since February 2002, was advised by the SEC staff this month that it intends to recommend that the SEC bring a civil injunction action against him, alleging violation of federal securities laws. Google said the SEC’s recommendation arises out of his prior employment as chief financial officer of SmartForce, and “involves certain disclosure and accounting issues relating to SmartForce’s financial statements.” None of the allegations involve Google, the company said.

Next B 2.0 Column: Henning Kagermann

By - July 24, 2004

b2_396x73I had a great conversation with Henning, and while it’s not directly search-related, it was fun, and I thought you all might enjoy it too…

The No-People Person
SAP’s Henning Kagermann says you’ll soon run your business by remote control. Then you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.

By John Battelle, July 2004 Issue

kagermannHenning Kagermann isn’t an avid jet pilot and sailor like Oracle’s (ORCL) Larry Ellison, or a showman and provocateur like’s Marc Benioff. Now the chairman and CEO of Germany’s SAP (SAP), the world’s second-largest software firm, Kagermann, 57, used to be a physics professor. And from the way he talks, it’s as if there were still chalk dust on his shoulders. But ask him about his competitors and he becomes hyperaggressive, dismissing his peers as preening chest thumpers who have lost touch with their customers. He may have something there: In the market for software that runs business operations, SAP is larger than the next two firms put together. That’s not a theoretical equation, since one of the two, Oracle, has been trying to acquire the other, PeopleSoft (PSFT) — a deal that’s been blocked by the U.S. Department of Justice on antitrust grounds. As archrival Oracle prepared for a trial contesting the ruling, Kagermann reflected on SAP’s role in the business-software market, the company’s recent flirtations with Microsoft (MSFT), and why robots will replace offshore labor.

Oracle’s lawsuit seems unprecedented. It’s rare for a company to dispute an antitrust finding in court. What’s your view?
On the one hand, even if Oracle and PeopleSoft were combined, they would be less than half our size. So we still wouldn’t have a competitor that’s close to us. But we don’t like artificial definitions of markets. It’s not a good precedent.

So there’s a part of you that agrees with Larry Ellison.

Why focus on finance and HR applications, as they did in this case? Why not enterprise resource planning, for example?

During the trial some things came out regarding merger discussions that SAP had with Microsoft. Can you tell us more about that?

Microsoft approached us, we were listening, and then they discontinued the talks. I believe they felt it was a little too complex. That’s it, that’s all. Not a story.

Hypothetically, then, is there some logic to the idea?

[Laughter] I can sit here and say nothing for 30 minutes if I have to!

The American tech industry seems to thrive on bravado. PeopleSoft’s Craig Conway, for example, has taken you on personally, accusing you of cribbing his speech material.

Why do people even listen to this stuff?

Maybe it’s more interesting to watch rich guys take potshots at each other than to talk about software.

But enterprise software is sold on trustworthiness, not glamour. All this chest pounding, it’s only for the press; it’s not for the customer, believe me.

It seems that Tom Siebel, Marc Benioff, and Larry Ellison would disagree with you. These men are well known for being flamboyant …

Yes, but what is their success in this market? Larry claims that he will overtake SAP. But just look at the facts. Who’s gaining market share? It’s all bullshit. Just look at the figures.


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Back in Business…

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…sort of. After trying one place, then a second, I’m pleased to report that I have gotten my data back, a month after the crash. However, it’s going to be a long rebuild, as I’ve learned, you create an entire ecology when you live through the screen, and things don’t work so hot when it all goes to hell, then gets recovered. I have to port all the data to a new system, sync, etc. Not fun, but still, many many thanks (and a lot of dough) to Ontrack for doing what others could not, and to all of you who sent me great tips and well wishes.

I’m also back from my vacation, and continuing to work on the book. I’ve gotten a lot of writing done, and will continue to make the book, plus Web 2.0 (just added: Jerry Yang, Danger Mouse, Google, many others), my priorities for the next couple of months. Thanks for bearing with my lighter postings…

EBay and Search: Just an Example…

By - July 22, 2004

…of how important search is to commerce. Rafat finds this job listing….

The eBay Natural Search Initiative is a cross-functional effort to allow eBay pages to rank well in natural search engines. The Internet Marketing team is looking for a motivated individual to manage the companys natural search projects while developing the overall natural search strategy. As a key member of the team running one of the industry’s largest online advertising programs, you will play a vital role in driving the growth of eBay’s revenue and profitability….

This trend noted previously here and here….