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Marc Davis Teams With Yahoo

By - July 15, 2005

DavisEarlier this year I had the distinct honor of giving the commencement address at Berkeley for SIMs (the School of Information Management and Systems). SIMs graduates tend to be interdisciplinarians, and often end up at places like Google, Yahoo, or other Valley companies. While I was there, Marc Davis, a professor there who I had spoken to a few times during my tenure at Berkeley, sidled up to me and told me some news I have had to keep under my hat till now: he’s teaming up with Yahoo to lead a joint research effort. I’m very pleased that a SIMs prof is heading up this endeavor, as it means Yahoo’s research will be pushed across many fields, not just engineering. I’m looking forward to seeing what he might do.

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Yahoo's Keyword-Driven Banners

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From the flash-from-the-past department (via PCWorld and SEW):

That banner ad you see today on a Yahoo Web page may have been triggered by a search you did on the company’s search engine two days ago.

That is because Yahoo tracks users’ queries on its search engine and, based on that information, tailors the graphical ads it beams at them later throughout its network of sites, a Yahoo official said Thursday.

….

Yahoo Impulse tracks queries through users’ Yahoo cookies and serves up the subsequent graphical ads for 48 hours afterward, a company spokeswoman said. Yahoo Impulse has existed for about four years, but ads previously were triggered for only a 1-hour period after the user’s search session, she said.

This particular incarnation of Yahoo Impulse, with the much longer 48-hour ad tailoring period, was launched about three months ago, she said. Advertisers sign up for the program, but it’s not an opt-in program for users, she said.

This means that users aren’t asked for their permission to have ads tailored to them based on their search queries. However, the spokeswoman pointed out that this type of ad-customization activity is noted in Yahoo’s privacy policy.

Google Makes AdWords Changes

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A bit inside baseball, but Google has made some important changes to the process by which AdWords terms are approved for use in its paid search network. In short, the company has simplified the system, and from what I can glean, it seems the move will both make advertisers happy, and improve the chances of harvesting value from long tail terms. SEW has a write up here.

Zeitgeist as RSS

By - July 14, 2005

My decision to write the book came largely from seeing the first ever Google Zeitgiest back in early 2002. Now a reader has brought that service into Web 2.0 with the GZeitgeist RSS Feed.

It’s done via screen scrape, so I’m not sure it’ll be there for long…

A New Use for AdWare

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A meta search engine based on the insights gleaned from adware is coming from Claria. Before I leap to judgment, I’m going to be talking with the Claria folks in the next week or so.

Cnet Does the Database of Intentions

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From the article:

Assuming Schmidt uses his company’s services, someone with access to Google’s databases could find out what he writes in his e-mails and to whom he sends them, where he shops online, what’s stored on his PC, or even what restaurants he’s located via online maps. Like so many other Google users, his virtual life has been meticulously recorded.

The fear, of course, is that hackers, zealous government investigators, or even a Google insider who falls short of the company’s ethics standards could abuse that information. Google, some worry, is amassing a tempting record of personal information, and the onus is on the Mountain View, Calif., company to keep that information under wraps.

Danny nails the issues here, for more on this.

Flying Blues

By - July 13, 2005

My. God. Jet. Blue. S*cks.

Light posting today, I’m, er, in the airport.

Update: I should elaborate. I usually like flying Jet Blue, but when I got to JFK yesterday, my flight was literally not on the board. It had…disappeared. Odd. I tried using the computerized cheeck in, and got a slip of paper that said something like “Oops! We can’t complete your transaction, go see any agent.” Well, the place was a zoo, and no agent I saw had any clue why my flight was no longer in the realm of the living. I called my office and was told the flight was still shown on the JetBlue website. I kept asking around, and after being directed to the wrong place three times, was finally put in a line for lost souls (at least they had one). That line was 30 minutes long, and in it I learned – from my fellow travelers – that not only was my flight cancelled, but so were about eight others. Why? Weather. I looked outside. It had been raining in the morning, but it was clear as could be at 3.30 pm, when the cancellation news rippled through the line . What gives? (Oh, and why didn’t they tell us?I mean, they have my cel phone, my email, and my office number.)

Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details of the surly and unhelpful person at the head of the line, or JetBlue’s inability to recognize that if they put me on one flight that was already two hours delayed, I’d miss my connection, etc. etc.etc. I left the terminal and bought a ticket on Delta. JetBlue may be great when it’s working, but when a bug gets into the system, it breaks big, and it breaks hard.

I asked the Delta agent why it was that JetBlue cancelled 8 flights due to weather that had happened 8 hours beforehand, and Delta was barely affected. He told me it had to do with FAA pecking order. Huh. Interesting.

On Disintermediation

By - July 12, 2005

AdageI wrote a piece for AdAge (reg required) which ran this week. It’s here, and I’m told that soon I can link to it outside of registration. I’d love your feedback.

ARE YOU BECOMING IRRELEVANT TO YOUR CUSTOMERS?

Why Marketers, Agencies and Media Execs Need to Understand Disintermediation

July 12, 2005

By John Battelle

Disintermediation is overrated.

Those who fear disintermediation should in fact be afraid of irrelevance — disintermediation is just another way of saying that you’ve become irrelevant to your customers. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a customer, or middlemen of some sort who service that customer, or that the core proposition of your business has disappeared. It just means you’re in a bit of a rut, and as much as you might pine for the past, it’s probably time to rethink things before it’s too late.

Put another way, disintermediation happens for a reason. Rather than staring at its result (and shaking our fists at Google and TiVo), let’s start at the beginning. What’s really going on here?

(continued here)