free html hit counter May 2005 - Page 2 of 10 - John Battelle's Search Blog

New Adsense Test Units Spotted

By - May 26, 2005

NewadsenseunitsInteresting to see. Google announced earlier this spring that they would be trying out new stuff, I am reminded by the folks there, and here is one example. Interactive units, it seems – “click to see ads about….”

(thanks, Rick)

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This Is a Big Deal, Folks!

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So says SEW on the topic of Google needing two days to restore its control over two hijacked queries.

Two days after it appeared, Google has finally managed to get its hijacked listing restored for queries on adsense and google adsense. Two days! And this to correct a problem it has been told about for over year, a problem it largely dismissed as not being a big issue?

Ask Launches New Zoom and Answering Services

By - May 25, 2005

Jeeves NewTonight Ask launched two cool new features, both innovations based on its study of how its customers use the service, according to Jim Lanzone, who runs the company’s search efforts. The first, Zoom, builds on Ask’s original clustering technology but goes several steps further, adding “narrowing” and “expansion” on your search based on Ask’s Teoma technology. I got a preview from Jim, and while I have not really been able to bang on it, it seems quite cool. For example, a search on “the beatles” will offer “Beatles Lyrics” and “Beatles Names” as narrowing results, and “Beatlemania” and “Rolling Stones” as expansion options, among others. Another feature is “related names” which for the Beatles includes Elvis and all the four Beatles. Play with it, it’s pretty neat.

Secondly, Ask is rolling out an expanded answering tool. Now, when you put in a phrase that might be understood as a question (ie “deadliest snake“) Ask will do its best to offer the web’s best answer. Ask will bold and enlargen the words its algorithms have concluded is the best chance to be correct. (It will also offer any number of other possible answers.) But these answers still reflect Ask’s best attempt at discerning truth from what Lanzone calls “the wild west.” It’s a worthy caution, for when you ask “who killed JFK” you will get any number of responses. The first concludes in its bolded text: “The Warren Commission categorically stated that Lee Harvey Oswald was the killer of JFK and that he acted alone.” But if you click through to the actual page from which this text is lifted, you get a conspiracist’s dreamworld (or the truth, depending on your predelictions).


Stepping back from this, Lanzone says that in tests, the new web answer feature increased click throughs on the first result by 200 percent. “Our goal is to decrease the number of people who come to service and can’t find what they want,” he said. He added that it’s Ask’s goal to keep creating new features that, once sampled, will make folks dedicated users of Ask’s searchers. Just in time, for apparently Diller intends to start pushing a lot of new traffic Ask’s way in the coming months. Should be interesting to see how it turns out. My take on this is simple: Ask is resurgent, it’s got a strong service, it keeps innovating, and it’s got IAC behind it now. Don’t expect them to stay 25 points behind Yahoo and Google for long.

PS – If Diller wants to change Ask’s name to Jeeves, he better read Gary – someone else owns the URL.

Two Ad-Driven Startups Profiled

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Evan’s Odeo in Businessweek

With his new company Odeo, Williams and partner Noah Glass aim to build a one-stop Web site where the masses can find and subscribe to podcasts, and create new podcasts with ease. Odeo will then help match advertisers to the newly created podcasts or let podcasters charge a subscription fee to listeners.

And Philip’s AdBrite in the LA Times:

He persuaded Sequoia Capital, the blue-chip Silicon Valley venture capital firm that backed such companies as Google Inc. and Apple Computer Inc., to invest $4 million in his method of placing ads on websites. He moved from New York City to San Francisco with dreams of turning AdBrite into the next billion-dollar company.

In some ways, Kaplan’s story is the story of the Internet: Both worked through their youthful indiscretions and are coming back in a more sure-footed, sober way. After 10 years of booms and busts, the Internet has proved itself a medium capable of generating billions of dollars from the kinds of ads Kaplan is selling.

A Little Off Topic, But…

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Check out this extraordinary story in New York magazine by my friend John Heilemann. It chronicles the intense and very personal case of a man in New York who is suing a boys choir school. Larry Lessig, a hero to many in the Web 2.0 world, is not only the lead lawyer in the case, he’s the driving character of the piece. Well worth the read.

Speaking of Ask, Check Out Answers

By - May 24, 2005 traffic has spiked since it got the nod from Google for its definition service. Here’s a comparison traffic graph with Ask on Alexa. Impressive. See that spike in the blue line? That’s when Google started pointing to it (right after it shed its sub model and went free).

Diller On Why IAC Bought Ask

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DillerBarry Diller took the stage at D today (see my interview here) and spent the first half hour or so talking about search, and why IAC bought Ask. Among the gems: “We were defensive about search…due to fears of disintermediation…but then realized….life will start with the search box.”

Diller went on to declare that search will be the de facto interface to the screen, and I certainly agree. He then told the story of how they came to the decision to buy Ask. The team made a graph of market share, and saw Ask at 6-7 percent, Google and Yahoo at over 30. Could IAC move Ask to the right, to gain more market share? “If the answer was yes, then the acquisition made sense,” Diller said.

Diller believes the answer is yes. He also believes Ask is a “differentiated” product, one that if more folks knew about, would take share from the incumbents. This is a process he’s run before – Fox was a differentiated product which took share from the three incumbent networks. “I love competing against larger players as a newer entrant,” he said. “Ask as a standalone company was constrained.”

Among other things, Diller hinted he might change Ask’s name from Ask Jeeves to “something with one word,” claimed that CitySearch broke even last month for the first time ever and is poised to win in local search through its vast databases of structured local information, and claimed that in the end, search is a media business (yup), and that Yahoo and Google will not be able to hold onto their commanding leads in market share forever.

Google Ad Model Watch

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Gary points to MarketWatch and speculates on Google driving new ad models based on a clearinghouse approach. It’s pretty much where things are already, to be honest, with more site specific striping. Publishers already see AdSense as a place to clear unused inventory. This would simply be the next step.