free html hit counter August 2005 | Page 7 of 8 | John Battelle's Search Blog

Pesco on UCB Search Auction Tech

By - August 03, 2005

I’m a Cal guy, so it’s nice to see a write up of some cool UCB tech in the search space. David Pescovitz (disclosure – he’s a BoingBoing pal) covers a new technique in ad optimization. From the piece:

The ideal algorithm would take into account when ranking the advertisers how much budget each advertiser has left. That would not only boost Google’s income but keep competition fierce. The question was how to write an algorithm that did this.

“You want the best ranking algorithm, not just one that keeps advertisers in the auction because it suits the search engine’s purposes,” says Umesh Vazirani, who is also a researcher with the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS).

…”The mechanism that we have is much more resilient than traditional methods to this kind of gaming,” Umesh Vazirani says. “For example, if a person has a higher bid but has spent most of his budget, the top ranking may go to the lower bidder.”

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Who's Ask Partnering With For Its New Ad Serving Platform?

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LooksmartWhy, it’s Looksmart, it looks like. Good for them, to gain such a strong new partner. How did I determine this? Well, someone pointed me to a sub only article that Danny wrote (this link will take you to the free version) about the Ask deal, in which he reported that some of the new platform is licensed from a third party, which he speculates might be Miva:

Ask Jeeves says it built the technology internally for its new program but also licensed some parts from a third-party vendor that it won’t name. Why not name if the other vendor was Miva, for example? It’s a likely candidate in having long-standing technology in the area and a licensing program.

“A lot of the reason we don’t want to talk about our partner is that we developed a lot of this in house. A big piece of it is not from the partner. We’re going to leverage off the IP [intellectual property] of the organization that we have for search,” Gardi said.

But I got a tip to check out the results on some popular terms at Ask, and lordy be, turns out that some of the ads are being served by Looksmart. Take a look for yourself. This is a query for “e-loan.” The first “sponsored” result – E-Loan – gives this URL:

….//tm.ask.com/r?t=an&s=a&uid=0082EE2D8DA597E24&sid=180D69D8C158F0F24&o=

10234&qid=90C8B368E677CD50AB1CE9E57874F586&io=0&sv=0a300514&ask=e-

loan&uip=43a922b6&en=aj&eo=&pt=E-LOAN%20%3F%20(Official%20Site)

&ac=24&qs=1&pg=1&u=http%3A%2F%2
Faskj-adtrack.looksmart.com%2Fog%2Fpr%

3DPsr%3Bro%3D1%3Brc%3D1%3Bla%3D365857%3Blm%3D322774%3Bkw%

3D14557279%3Bed%3D20050801%3Bii%3D78ea.79f6.42f0fcc9.94b%3Bpn%3D%3Bto%

3D%3Btc%3D1%3Bpo%3D1%3Bpc%3D1%3Bpi%3Daj_reply_13%3Bts%3D%7Chttp%3A%

2F%2Fwww.eloan.com%2F%3Fuser%3Dask%26mcode%3Daskkw4mdq…

Note the part I bolded….it’s clear that Ask and Looksmart are sharing APIs, and probably more.

That might explain why Ask is reticent to talk about who their third party partner is – Looksmart was tarred with a lot of crappy traffic and poor results over the past few years, and has been on life support since it lost the Microsoft account over a year ago. But I recently spoke with Looksmart CEO David Hills (no, he was not my source…), who came in last year to turn the company around. He had a very clear eyed view of his company’s problems, and a very practical approach to to solving them: get rid of the fraud and the crap, and focus on partnering. Looks like Ask might be his first big deal.

More on Yahoo's Push Down the Long Ad Tail

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YpnYahoo is getting a lot of coverage for its move into Google’s domain, here’s a roundup and a few thoughts.

The New York Times has a piece quoting yours truly:

Yahoo says its new small-site service will let a Web site specify what categories of advertising it does or does not want on a given page. Moreover, Yahoo will offer a telephone number that even small publishers can call for help, something that Google does not make readily available.

Yahoo appears to be focusing on a weakness in Google’s offering for small publishers, said John Battelle, a blogger and author of “The Search,” a book on Google and its rivals to be published in September by Portfolio Hardcover.

“Google is the 800-pound gorilla and until now there aren’t even any chimps around,” he said. “You hear two complaints over and over again: They are a black box and you can’t get anyone on the phone to help you.”

I’ve already gotten a couple of raised eyebrows from my pals at Google, but guys, don’t be defensive, I’m just the messenger here. Yahoo is doing what you might expect a competitor to do – hit ya where you’re soft.

Jensense reports some of her initial thoughts as a user. SEW as usual has a report. YPN is only available as an invitation beta, I have been invited to check it out, and plan to in my copious spare time.

The Wall Street Journal (free link) rounds up all the action in Google’s once solely owned space, including from MSFT.

Microsoft next week will announce that an invitation-only test of MSN Keywords will begin in October with 500 advertisers and search-engine marketing specialists. The service will move MSN closer to how Google handles advertising, by using live auctions of keywords. MSN Keywords is one tool of a broader set of new advertising services called adCenter that Microsoft is building on MSN. Microsoft executives say they hope the tools will allow companies to tailor advertisements by giving them more detailed information on Web users than is currently available.

YPN: Cat Leaves Bag

By - August 02, 2005

Cnet via NYT has the story of the Yahoo Publisher Network launch. More on this Weds…

From the piece:

Yahoo is planning to launch on Wednesday an ad network for small Web publishers intended to strengthen its hand against rival Google, a source familiar with the plan told CNET News.com.

As previously reported, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company has been working for months on a self-serve advertising service tailored to bloggers and other small Web publishers, a move that homes in on Google’s territory.

Nearly 30% Fraud?

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It’s VERY hard to substantiate these claims, but here they are again, in a survey covered by WebProNews.

From the survey release:

The experiment was conducted in conjunction with Los Angeles-based Clicks2Customers.com and focused on three pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns running during a 10-day period in 2005. Duplicate clicks were determined by comparing IP addresses, language, browser settings, referring URL, time of click, operating system, browser plug-ins and country of origin.

“Our random sample of PPC campaigns uncovered as much as 29.5 percent PPC fraud and showed that Google was able to account for and credit only a tiny portion of those fraudulent charges,” McGlaughlin said. “Whether it is click fraud or the lesser known impression fraud, these fraudulent clicks can cause a lot of damage to advertisers because it drains their budgets. Companies should be aware of how big of a problem it really is and be equipped to more aptly detect it.”

ShopHoo!

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Yahoo is starting to syndicate its content out, as long as there’s money to be made…Yahoo Shopping is now available for mashup madness…

DogPiles On

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DogpileDogpile announced today that it has results from all four major engines, and plugged a study (download) that shows results do not overlap as much as we might thing. SEW has an article about that study here.

From Dogpile’s release:

Dogpile announced the integration of search results from MSN Search to their industry-leading metasearch technology that combines the best results from the Web’s top search engines. With this announcement, Dogpile will be the exclusive home to all four of the Web’s leading search engines—MSN Search, Google, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves.

While most people believe search results across all four engines are the same, the reality is the vast majority of the results from each engine are different and do not overlap. This fact was validated by a new study conducted jointly at the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania State University… (which found that) only 1.1% of page one results were the same on all four engines.

More State O The Blogosphere

By - August 01, 2005

From Dave at T’rati. Highlights:

* Technorati was tracking over 14.2 Million weblogs, and over 1.3 billion links in July 2005

* The blogosphere continues to double about every 5.5 months

* A new blog is created about every second, there are over 80,000 created daily

* About 55% of all blogs are active, and that has remained a consistent statistic for at least a year

* About 13% of all blogs are updated at least weekly

Flickr Delivers PhotoRank

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Flickr Logo BetaDon’t get fooled by all the new features in the flickr update, the real news is photorank. As the flickr blog item states:

The other new feature is called interestingness and it’s huge! A long time in the making, interestingness is a ranking algorithm based on user behavior around the photos taking into account some obvious things like how many users add the photo to their favorites and some subtle things like the relationship between the person who uploaded the photo and the people who are commenting (plus a whole bunch of secret sauce).



Watch this space.