free html hit counter August 2004 - Page 2 of 10 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Gary Finds a Google Patent on Client Side Ads

By - August 28, 2004

Very interesting.

The full text of the patent.

The short of it: the patent describes a system whereby contextual ads are delivered on a user’s computer using software that lives on that computer – ie a toolbar, a browser, an aggregator, etc.

While the patent is not filed by Google per se, many of the engineers named are employees of Google. This is sometimes done by companies who wish to obscure their intent. No idea if this is the case in this case, but seemingly, this patent covers a potential expansion of Google’s advertising revenue model. It may be, though, simply a way of covering their current model as well. The timing, given the recent settlement with Overture, is interesting in any case.

  • Content Marquee

Skrenta: Intent or Content?

By - August 27, 2004

Rich Skrenta, he of Topix and Web OS posting fame, is turning feed searches over in his mind. This is a neat conversation, referencing our pals Jeremy, Rafer, and others. In essence, why have all the majors punted on the presentweb – the fresh stuff that’s being discussed *right now* via blogs, feeds, and pings?

He sets up the question: But still it seems odd, that with the biggies supposedly in cutthroat competition for search, that they’ve left the field for Feedster as the best resource for this class of searches. Why?

Then asks a bigger one: Feeds & Blogs: Fad or something big?

He points to usenet as the precursor to the current blogosphere, and notes that many are skeptical of the current “wild eyed enthusiasm” w/r/t same. (He also pokes two well known bloggers in the eye with the links he chooses, but I’ll let him deal with that fight!) He wonders if Google is not just waiting and seeing – will this thing just be another search tab, like usenet became?

His conclusion: nope. Content is king, search is the king’s phonebook (or index…). I certainly agree, but the two are entirely intertwingled. Google et al do well when content does well, otherwise, what is there to index? The big question, however, is whether Google wants to start playing in the content aggregation space – the new model of “search, find, subscribe” that Jeremy discusses. Yahoo has already decided it does (and the buzz is that more is coming…). So has MSN and AOL. But at the end of the day, the tail is far too big on this beast, and no one place can own the conversation.

Sell Side Advertising: A New Model?

By - August 26, 2004

new improvedA while ago I read Ross Mayfield’s post on “Cost Per Influence” advertising and thought to myself “That feels important, but I don’t get it.” Something was missing, or, put another way, I was missing something. So I gave Ross a call last week and we hashed through it. What I realized during our talk was that the premise for how he got to the idea of CPI was, to my mind, far more interesting than CPI itself, at least in the near term.

Allow me to explain. Ross’s musings on CPI turn on the concept of “transitive advertising” – a very interesting idea that flips current advertising models upside down. In essence, this new model for online ads reverses the relationship between publishers and advertisers.

In traditional advertising models, the advertiser holds all the cards. They decide what they want to spend, and most importantly, where they want to spend it. But the rise of pay-for-performance networks like Overture and AdWords/AdSense has changed this relationship in significant ways. First, advertisers are only paying when their ad performs – this alone is a huge shift in media. But as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, these networks also disaggregate advertisers from publishers. The advertisers are no longer choosing the publisher with whom they are doing business, they are instead choosing keywords, concepts, context. OK, but not very good for publishers nor for audiences, in my opinion.

But here’s the heart of Ross’s transitive advertising model, or what I’d like to call Sell Side Advertising. Instead of advertisers buying either PPC networks or specific publishers/sites, they simply release their ads to the net, perhaps on specified servers where they can easily be found, or on their own sites, and/or through seed buys on one or two exemplar sites. These ads are tagged with information supplied by the advertiser, for example, who they are attempting to reach, what kind of environments they want to be in (and environments they expressly forbid, like porn sites or affiliate sites), and how much money they are willing to spend on the ad.

Once the ads are let loose, here’s the cool catch – ANYONE who sees those ads can cut and paste them, just like a link, into their own sites (providing their sites conform to the guidelines the ad explicates in its tags). The ads track their own progress, and through feeds they “talk” to their “owner” – the advertiser (or their agent/agency). These feeds report back on who has pasted the ad into what sites, how many clicks that publisher has delivered, and how much juice is left in the ad’s bank account. The ad propagates until it runs out of money, then it… disappears! If the ad is working, the advertiser can fill up the tank with more money and let it ride.

I love this model because it’s viral and it’s publisher driven – it lets the publishers decide which ads fit on their sites. Publishers won’t put ads on their site that don’t perform, and they’ll compete to put up ads that do. Now when I say “publisher” what I really mean is “blogger” – in particular the kind of blogger that uses AdSense – or would if it worked well enough. Bloggers like, well, me, and Rafat, and Om, and loads of others who provide a service that readers appreciate. This allows us to proactively vote for ads we think fit our site, that we think work for our readers. It’s also a big win for advertisers, as their downside is protected by pay for performance, and upside is that the market is optimizing the ads through both the network effect, as with AdSense, as well as honoring the crucial endemic relationship between publisher/author/blogger and reader. Publishers are, in a very real sense, endorsing the advertiser, and that publisher’s endorsement carries weight with the reader. (Publishers who endorse lame ads, or ads that take advantage of the reader, will be punished by the readers voting with their feet…)

Now, here’s how CPI comes into play. The ad tracks not only where it is at any given time, but where it came from. So when I copy an ad from, say, Om’s site to my site, Om gets a piece of the action for being the referring site. The ad reports that I got the ad from Om, and then if the ad performs on my site, he gets a bit of the juice for that. Presto – you are getting remunerated for your network of influence.

Certainly there are any number of major issues and problems with this model, and I Iook forward to hearing what you think they are. But in the end, this idea is no crazier than the PPC model itself, and, to my mind, worth figuring out how to implement. Thanks Ross, for propagating this neat meme. What do you all think?

Craiglist+Adsense

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Rafat notes that craigslist’s execs are tempted by Adsense….a billion pages makes for a lot of beer money…

A Clear Sign GOOG Is Drifting….Or…Maybe Focusing on The Right Things….

By - August 25, 2004

GREENGO0053Customer complaints about the Green Google Lava Lamps….

The problem is that the liquid that the Green Lava Googlets float in is a murky, cloudy yellow
…as opposed to the Blue Google Lava Lamp, which is crisp and clear and really lets the Blue Lava Googlets flow freely.

Meanwhile….the Google Store announces a makeover

Google Browser

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Talk in the blog-o-sphere about a Google browser – Jason weighs in.

Quigo a Go Go

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quigoSpent some time on the phone with Michael Yavonditte, the CEO of Quigo yesterday. I’ve been getting smart on many of the new innovators in the advertising space, both for my book, as well as for my other role as band manager of Boing Boing and whatever might come next. Man, there’s a lot going on in the online marketing space right now – a lot of innnovation, a lot of cool new shit, and a lot of potential.

According to Yavonditte, Quigo has perfected a relevancy algorithm that does AdSense one better – far better, to paraphrase his words. Quigo is focusing on picking off the high-brand-value publishers who use AdSense but are looking for a network solution that pays them more for what they believe is significantly better inventory than the lowest common denominator AdSense approach. Great quote: “Advertisers are saying to me ‘I don’t want the Guadalupe Times, I want ESPN!'” He’s already stolen some business – he’s got USA Today, National Geographic, the New York Post, and several others signed up, and reportedly has some major equity-for-distribution deals in the works, akin to what Google and Yahoo did in their early days.

While I am sure his algorithms are good, in essence, Yavonditte’s secret sauce is vertical categorization. He’s come up with a handful of major categories – Travel, Health, etc. – that advertisers self select into. Then he applies his contextual algorithm within that category, yielding what he claims are major improvements in CTR and PPC.

I’ve always suspected that Google will build vertical categories into AdSense, so I asked Yavonditte, given how exciting his claims seem to be, why Google won’t simply swoop in and verticalize AdSense. “I’m trying to build a $200 million business,” he responded. “Google needs to focus on finding the next billion dollar one.”

Yes, but…$200 million is a hell of a lot more revenue than, say, Orkut is providing at the moment…

Yavonditte is limiting his company’s focus to big and/or high quality publishers and big categories, for now, but he didn’t rule out scaling the business to AdSense like proportions. He’s also got a killer product in the works that – without tipping his hand too much – uses his algorithm to aid marketers make decisions about the right keywords to use for any given URL. Cool.

Quigo is nearly breakeven and has 70 employees, most of them in New York. They are backed by Bob Davis, of Lycos fame, among many others.

Marketing Vox interview with Michael here.

Up and to the Right

By - August 24, 2004

Recently ran across this (a bit dated but still worthwhile) graph from Pew on broadband penetration for all your Powerpoint presos on why your (company, idea, marketing spend) is justified…

pewbband

Fifteen Minutes…

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searchengineradioI was just interviewed on Search Engine Radio – who knew there was a Search Engine Radio!? I have no idea how I sounded, but here’s the link