free html hit counter February 2006 - Page 5 of 8 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Scoble: Just Wait

By - February 08, 2006

Scoble asks: Why do search engines lie? He writes, after realizing that the number of results never is, in fact, the actual number of results:



Why aren’t there any truth in advertising laws for search engines?

Just wait, Robert. There will be.

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Vignette: Google's Sales Call and the (New?) Fifty Percent Rule

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GoogadsenseFor the second time in one year, I got an email from Google’s outbound sales force, on account of being the band manager for Boing Boing, which is a pretty high traffic site. Clearly, Google’s cold calling sales force has been mining Alexa or somesuch for lists of prospective new AdSense clients.

In her emails (the first of which came via BB’s founder Mark Frauenfelder), Google’s rep told me that Google had some special programs for Boing Boing that I might want to take advantage of. Well, I’m open minded, and willing to try it again (for more on the last time we went around this bend, read this.)

Google’s salesperson was very pleasant and responsive, but it seems to me she had not run my name through, well, Google, nor did she have the data from the last time I spoke to an AdSense sales rep, in which I disclosed that I was the dude behind Searchblog and that Boing Boing had some issues with AdSense, not the least of which was performance and AdSense’s TOS. Now, I’m not looking for special treatment, but had she used Google or had a history of Google’s contacts with Boing Boing, she might have realized that I was, well, a bit engaged in this discussion. What follows is an edited, rough paraphrase of our conversation. Caveat: We talked about more stuff, but not all of it was worth reporting here…

Me: Hey, nice to meet you.

Her: Likewise.

Me: So what are these cool advertising programs that Boing Boing might take advantage of?

Her: One is called AdSense, and one is called AdSense for Search.

Me: Yeah, I know about those. But what’s the special part?

She: Well, it works like this. You put code on your….

Me: Don’t mean to interrupt, but I know about how it works. We’ve tried it before on Boing Boing and it doesn’t work too well for us.

She: Really, why not?

Me: Well, Boing Boing is pretty eclectic, and it’s hard for networks like AdSense to figure out what ads to run. I am sure if we ran it for months on end, the permalink pages might start to have better CPCs, but..

She: Well part of what we can do is help you to optimize your site for AdSense.

Me: Really? What does that entail?

She: Well, we can give you tips on where to put the ads, what placements work best, how to best categorize your site, things like that.

Me: Right. Well, I’m aware of that kind of stuff. Can you provide me with a better deal?

She: A better deal?

Me: Well, one of the things that publishers wonder about AdSense is what is the split? How much of every dollar goes to us, and how much to you?

She: Well, we don’t divulge that information, but if you look at our SEC filings, you can see our numbers…

Me: Yes, I know about your TAC, and it averages in the high seventies to low 80s, but that number is very difficult to understand – I know that you have set deals with sites like Ask and AOL, and those probably skew the overall TAC. I wonder if you are making up that high TAC by, well, dialing down the TAC with smaller publishers like Boing Boing. I mean, we have no idea if you are giving us high seventies, or taking 60 percent all for yourself!

She: We can’t get into numbers, but we can say that we give the majority of the revenue to our publishers.

Me: Huh. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that – so more than fifty percent?

She: We can’t give exact numbers out.

Me: Sure. I understand. That’s your policy. Well, it’s great of you to contact us, and we’ll talk about it, and get back to you. Thanks.

She: Great! Let me know if there is anything I can do.

Me: OK, bye!

She: Bye!

Oops, They Did It Again: Yahoo Helped to Jail Dissident

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Reporters Without Borders is claiming that Yahoo aided in the jailing of a Chinese dissident in 2003, the second such accusation for Yahoo (more on the first – a journalist – here). The organization is requesting that Yahoo disclose its dealings with the Chinese government. From the report:

Reporters Without Borders called on Yahoo to supply a list of all cyberdissidents it has provided data on, beginning with 81 people in China whose release the worldwide press freedom organization is currently campaigning for.

It said it had discovered that Yahoo customer and cyberdissident Li Zhi had been given his eight-year prison sentence in December 2003 based on electronic records provided by Yahoo. “How many more cases are we going to find ?” it asked.

“We were sure the case of Shi Tao, who was jailed for 10 years last April on the basis of Yahoo-supplied data, was not the only one. Now we know Yahoo works regularly and efficiently with the Chinese police.

“The firm says it simply responds to requests from the authorities for data without ever knowing what it will be used for. But this argument no longer holds water. Yahoo certainly knew it was helping to arrest political dissidents and journalists, not just ordinary criminals. The company must answer for what it is doing at the US congressional hearing set for February 15.”

BB coverage here.

The Day's News

By - February 07, 2006

Links I could not get to today…

Gravee launches. Model includes paying content providers a share of CPC revs, as well as an affiliate play. I have not grokked….

Google launches integrated Gmail/GTalk.

Ford’s Kermit Superbowl ad was cute, but GM bought the keyword and profited from Ford’s investment.

Updated: Udi Manber to Leave Amazon's A9 For Google

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A reader tipped me to this over the weekend, but I could not confirm it till just this afternoon, and out of respect for the folks who worked with and for Udi, I decided not to post without confirmation. I pinged five other sources since, and Udi confirmed this afternoon. He is leaving A9 for Google. More as I have it.

Update: My initial coverage of Udi and A9 is here. As I’ve said in the past, Udi is one of the leading lights in the search world, on nearly everyone’s “Top Brains in Search” list. And now he’s gone to Google. I have asked him for an interview and very much hope he’ll agree, so we can all hear why he left Amazon – which is clearly making moves toward Google’s space, and vice versa – and went to Google.

Udi will be replaced by Dr. David Tennenhouse. From Amazon’s release:

A9.com, Inc., a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), today named Dr. David Tennenhouse the company’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Tennenhouse is a renowned technologist and seasoned executive. He joins A9.com from Intel Corporation where he served as Vice President of the Corporate Technology Group and Director of Research. In addition to building Intel Research, he developed Intel’s proactive computing vision, drove several Intel Capital Investments and laid the technical ground work for its new Digital Health Group.

Prior to joining Intel, Tennenhouse was Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Information Technology Office where he guided programs in several areas, including search, datamining, information management, machine learning and distributed computing. Additionally, Tennenhouse held positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the Sloan School of Management.

PS – How long do you think John Doerr can remain on the boards of booth Amazon and Google?

Google Talking to Dell: It's All About Distribution

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From the Journal: Default Lines Pressuring Microsoft, PC Makers Team Up With Its Software Rivals (paid reg)

From the article:

Google is in serious negotiations to get its software installed on millions of Dell PCs before they are shipped to users, according to people familiar with the matter. Under the deal being discussed, Google, of Mountain View, Calif., could pay Dell fees approaching $1 billion over three years, these people estimate. The terms might change and the discussions could fail.

….Already, a consumer setting up a new H-P computer, for example, has the option to sign up for Earthlink’s broadband access, AOL’s online service, Symantec antivirus software and videogames from a start-up company named WildTangent. Those companies pay H-P a set fee or a share of revenue, say executives at the companies. H-P also auctions off its space: Google pays it $1 for every PC that ships with a Google toolbar — a strip that sits atop a browser and enables users to easily operate Google’s search engine — and another 75 cents the first time a home-computer user taps the service, says a person familiar with the matter.

Under a scenario Google and Dell are discussing, Dell would set up PCs to run a few Google products straight out of the box, including software to search PC hard drives and its toolbar browser.