free html hit counter November 2005 - Page 3 of 8 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Google Adds "Advertise On This Site" Links for AdSense

By - November 20, 2005

A new way of bringing in endemic advertising, which is naturally site specific. This marks a new approach for Google, and an extension of its site targeting feature. I am trying to get some details on what Google believes is competitive, as this is clearly not something professional publishers with their own sales forces are going to react to well. The idea of a link “Advertise on this site” going to anyone other than the publisher is, well, controversial. But for smaller authors, it’s outsourced ad sales, and they will love it. Folks like BlogAds, FM, and others will have to prove their merit even more now.

More when I have it.

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Grokking Google Base? Read Burnham and Pincus

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Worth the time:

I suspect that Google will soon announce a program whereby people can register their “Base compliant” RSS feeds with Google base. Google will then poll these feeds regularly just like any other RSS reader. Publishers can either create brand new Base-compliant feeds or with a bit of XSLT/XML Schema of their own they can just transpose their own content into a Base compliant feed. Indeed I wouldn’t be surprised if there are several software programs available for download in a couple months that do just that. Soon, every publisher on the planet will be able to have a highly automated, highly structured feed directly into Google base.

Once the feed gets inside Google the fun is just beginning. Most commentators have been underwhelmed by Google Base because they don’t see the big deal of Google Base entires showing up as part of free text search. What these commentators miss, is that Google isn’t gathering all this structured data just so they can regurgitate it piece-meal via unstructured queries, they are gathering all this data so that they can build the world’s largest XML database.

And Mark Pincus:

google started with an amazing premise of doing no evil. i truly believe its founders want to help the world. my guess is that like many companies google will be a victim of its own success. like msft it will go hire the smartest people in the world. unfortunately, those people are often sharks and have less lofty goals, especially when they have yet to make their billions.

google base is a very msft mba approach to the world. while it makes business sense, it lacks soul. it does as little to help the community as bringing in a walmart. in fact, google feels a like walmart today.

Yahoo Appoints Dr. Andrei Broder

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A big brain goes to Yahoo. The release is here. From it:

Broder was a Distinguished Engineer and the CTO of the Institute for Search and Text Analysis at IBM Research. Prior to this he was vice president for research and chief scientist at the AltaVista Company, reporting directly to the CEO. He was also a senior member of the research staff at Compaq’s Systems Research Center in Palo Alto. He graduated summa cum laude from Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology, and obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University under Don Knuth.

Broder has done a lot of work in the past decade or so on search and IR, I’ve read many of his papers for the book, and as I recall he has done some work with folks now at Google.

Gary has some of Broder’s greatest hits listed here.

Economist: Egalitarian Engines, and Thoughts on Transparency

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Interesting article (thanks Cyril) in the Economist about the effect of search engines on traffic distribution.

…there is a widespread belief among computer, social and political scientists that search engines create a vicious circle that amplifies the dominance of established and already popular websites. Pages returned by search engines are more likely to be discovered and consequently linked to by others.

Not so, according to a controversial new paper that has recently appeared on

arXiv, an online collection of physics and related papers.

It took some searching (arXiv has a terrible search engine) but I found the referred piece here.

What I find intersting and important are the Economist’s final conclusions. From the article:

The paper, which was posted on arXiv for comment, has now come under attack. Matthew Hindman, a political scientist at Arizona State University, says that the data used in the research are pretty shoddy. Moreover, he says, the discrepancy between the model and the real world does not necessarily come from the role of the search engine.

Whether Dr Fortunato’s thesis stands the test of time remains to be seen. That it is tested must be a good thing.

I can’t agree more. One of the things which is most frustrating about search, to me and to many, is the lack of transparency, and the lack of knowledge about how an increasingly convoluted ranking scheme actually works. Of course, Yahoo and Google can’t publish their entire ranking scheme. But some kind of guideposting should be done.

This is even more true in the AdWords/Overture world, where real money is at stake, every minute of every day. I think this will come to a head sooner rather than later. For now it’s all well and good to let Google determine its own profit margins by optimizing AdWords and AdSense behind the curtains of darkness. But that can’t stand forever. There is too much opportunity to use that lack of transparency to ill ends – ie to bury competitors which are surfacing now by paying more than market prices to ensure that publishers stay with Google, for example. I am not suggesting that is happening, just that we have no way of knowing if it ever were to happen.

Toward that end, Seth’s Root Markets is written up by ClickZ here…

More Patriot Act: NYT Editorial

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In case I’ve not beat this drum hard enough, more thoughts on the bad law called the USA PATRIOT Act, this time from the NYT Editorial pages. From it:

Congress passed the Patriot Act hurriedly after the Sept. 11 attacks, with little time for reasoned discussion. Many of the most aggressive provisions were written to be phased out after a few years, to ensure that a future Congress would be able to reconsider them in calmer circumstances. If that were really happening, Congress would not be preparing to authorize the continued use of “national security letters,” an investigative tool that gives the F.B.I. sweeping power to riffle through ordinary Americans’ private records.

Unlike search warrants, national security letters do not need to be approved by a judge. The F.B.I. can issue them on its own initiative to places that hold sensitive information about American citizens, like libraries, doctors’ offices, banks and Internet service providers. The Washington Post recently reported that the F.B.I. now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year.

Update: Seems that the extensions to the Act, which were almost pushed through this past week, were shelved yesterday, though the issue will have to be dealt with next month.

Watch Jack Ma

By - November 19, 2005

Jack Ma200

The CEO of Alibaba, a central figure in China and the nascent search/ecommerce wars there, is one fun fellow to watch. His recent deal with Yahoo has redoubled Ma’s presence in China. Read this Forbes piece for more. From it:

Ma isn’t content to dominate China’s auctions and e-mail. He wants the third point of the Internet triumvirate, too: search. The CEO depicted an almost disarmingly simple strategy: “We win eBay, buy Yahoo! and stop Google. That is for fun. Competition is for fun.”

Geography and/or geopolitics apparently loom large in Ma’s worldview. He told reporters that while Google (nasdaq: GOOG – news – people ) and Yahoo! dominate Europe and the U.S., neither is in a position to rule Asia.

“I call them sharks in the ocean. We are crocodiles in the Yangtze River. If we fight in the Yangtze River, we have more chances than they have.”

NY Public Library Book Search Debate

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Covered in the Times here. Choice quote:

Mr. Adler (AAP lawyer) said Google’s contention that its search program might somehow increase sales of books was speculation at best.

“When people make inquiries using Google’s search engine and they come up with references to books, they are just as likely to come to this fine institution to look up those references as they are to buy them,” he said, referring to the Public Library.

To which Google’s Mr. Drummond replied, “Horrors.”

VCs vs. The Platforms

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This morning (London time) I was on a panel featuring Simon Levene of Yahoo, among others. The focus was Web 2.0 and venture capital (fittingly, it was sponsored by FirstCapital). Simon, who is MD here for Yahoo in Business Development, mentioned something that struck me as both obvious yet somehow not stated very clearly. Addressing the audience of mostly VCs, he said:

“Folks like Yahoo will be competing with you for deals.”

Levene mentioned to me later that Google has even set up a fund to compete with VCs for early stage company financing (I had not head this before), and that Yahoo feels it can and must compete to buy early stage companies before VCs can get in with larger financing. An interesting development. He added that entrepreneurs are weighing the risks of having to execute against the exit requirements of a second or third round of financing, vs. the bird in the hand of a deal with a big player like Yahoo, and often, as with Flickr, they are going with the platform.

UPDATE: I pinged good sources at Google, who declare definitively that Google is not running a VC fund….