free html hit counter April 2006 - John Battelle's Search Blog

News: Yahoo Launches Tech News Channel

By - April 30, 2006

Yahoo Tech

Content, it’s the new black. Yahoo Tech is up. In short, it’s a consumer tech magazine online. But with a bunch of Yahoo’s social, search, and so on tech integrated.

From the release:

Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), a leading global Internet company, today launched Yahoo! Tech, a new Web site that gives consumers plain-English advice and information about choosing and using the technology that has become a part of their daily lives. Yahoo! Tech ( was developed with the simple philosophy of making technology easy for all Yahoo! users, especially those without a deep understanding of technology and gadgets.

The site features a broad selection of original and licensed content, hundreds of thousands of products with community product ratings and reviews, as well as shopping, community and personalization features from across the Yahoo! network. Four experienced technology advisors, each focused on a specific audience such as “moms,” “boomers” or “working guys,” offer daily guidance for consumers looking to choose or use consumer electronics from one of 19 categories, including computers, cell phones, digital cameras and MP3 players.

Not a revelation, honestly, we knew this was coming. But is is interesting to see Yahoo go after the folks at IDG, Cnet, and others.

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Updated: Alexa Now and Then

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Via Threadwatch and SELowdown, news that Alexa is now powered by MSFT Live, rather than Google. Here’s a screen shot of Alexa (via IA, natch) last year (powered by Google)…


…and here’s a snip from the service now.

Alexa Msft

I’ve pinged Bruce Gilliat at Alexa to ask about this, but as I’ve said over and over, Amazon and Google are on a collision course. This is an interesting development.

Updated: A9 is also now powered by It’s on.

Yahoo And The Yellow Pages: Co-opt, or Co-opetition?

By - April 28, 2006

 Us.Yimg.Com I Us Cn Lp Lfl Scrn 5Yahoo Local has rolled out an update to its business model for local merchants, and it’s looking a lot like what the Yellow Pages do, only online, self service, cheaper, and, well, what I’ve been on about for a while – a step towards the online version of what the Yellow Pages really need to become.

I spent some time with the Yellow Pages industry earlier this week at their annual conference, and I must say they are pretty tuned in to all of this. They were most interested in whether or not they should work with Google (Verizon just decided to sell AdWords, for example), but I told them in no uncertain terms that they needed to watch Yahoo. Why? Because Yahoo has built in the ability for local merchants to interact directly with the listings, to create contnt for their businesses, and to buy premium listings.

Today Yahoo has moved the needle again, adding Local Featured Listings, a way for merchants to buy placement on results pages – it’s basically sponsored links, but with a twist. I spoke to Paul Levine, who runs Yahoo Local, and he told me that there has been a lot of demand from local merchants to be “at the top of the page” for a given result. Now, for between $20 and $300 a month, they can be.

This reminds me very much of the YP model of paying more or less for size of ad on the page, (they also pay more or less for the headers – ie and ad in Flowers is more expensive than an ad in Scuba Equipment).

Folks are already signing up (see this search for Bike Shop Boulder), and I see this as potentially a significant new revenue stream for Yahoo Local.

But wait, you say, this is just Overture listings, right? No, not in the end. In the end, if Yahoo is smart, this will be where local merchants advertise, not national 800 number chains. Why? Because that’s where the true value is in the YP, and that’s what should be up front. The race to win the online YP will be all about understanding how users actually USE the service. And right now, it’s Yahoo’s to lose.

Melanie's Round Up

By - April 27, 2006

We’re still catching up – AdTech plus travel means a very backed up week. Here’s Melanie’s second edition:

Yahoo and AT&T cozy up together in a co-branded Messenger with Voice, adding high speed internet to Y! Messenger and making AT&T Yahoo’s preferred global network provider.

Google Earth & SketchUp

“Visionaries, utopians, virtual world builders: your time has come.” Can’t you just feel the warm-fuzzies?

Today Google announces a free version of SketchUp in Earth, paired it with a 3D Warehouse wherein amateurs and aficionados can share their virtual monuments and collaborate on new creations. Earth brought the flying experience. The SketchUp synch lets the users fly about and build their world–flagging favorite spots, localizing friends, errecting their childhood home.

ACEnews Editor-in-Chief, Randall Newton imagines using Google SketchUp to track migration and environmental change, adding he might like to “identify Arctic Ocean waterfront property, then use SketchUp to model my dream beachfront home. I wonder what five acres on a good harbor in arctic Canada will be worth in 20 years?”

More Yahoo: Yahoo integrates Babel Fish—allowing users to translate blocks or text or whole pages into 38 language pair choices by preference . Especially timely, Yahoo says, citing research that finds “less then 30 percent of people online speak English as a native language (Byte Level Research, Nov. 2005).”

Gnarles Barkely’s new song “Crazy” is hitting the charts before it even hits the stores. Fred Wilson, over at A VC, notes that charts from Wiredset—the company that tracks the popularity of entertainment at MySpace—shows it going viral. It’s actually become #1 in the UK purely through MP3 sharing, again before the cd release, updates Fred.

Brightcove opens its service to the public. Watch this space…

John Jantsch at DuctTape Marketing has a new product, called Duct Tape Marketing Local Search Engine, that generates profiles for clients and feeds them to directories of note. As a bonus, clients’ profiles are also listed in Jantsch’s directory. (Caveat – John is an FM author…but still, this is a cool idea).

The Intention Cloud

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How cool is it that some smart geeks hacked up an application inspired by the Database of Intentions framework of The Search? Check out The Intention Cloud. From the About section:

The Cloud is the result of a mashup between the concept of ‘Database Of Intention’ and ‘Tag Clouds’ visualization. The current live engine of the Intention Cloud is collecting data from the Google Suggest service, but will be extended in the future to integrate other databases of intention.

Intent Cloud

Here’s the cloud for “we want“….

Quaeroless? Exalead CEO Says There'll Be No Quaero Site

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No QuaeroWhat the hell is Quaero? Yesterday I had a chance to put that question to Francois Bourdoncle, CEO and co-founder of Exalead, a leading European enterprise search company (and partner in Quaero, whatever it turns out to be). It was a timely conversation, as French President Jacques Chirac announced a $2.5 billion initiative earlier this week, a major portion of which was earmarked for Quaero.

If all you had to go by was Google results, chances are you’d be confused in your search to figure out what Quaero was all about. Wikipedia has an entry (in French, of course). Other news outlets seem to think Quareo is in fact a real search engine – albeit one with a multimedia focus – under development by the French and German government in partnership with private European media conglomerates like Thompson, and smaller startups like Exalead.

That’s what I thought, and in response I said that it was a deeply dumb idea. But turns out, we were all responding to the wrong thing.

Sure, Chirac seems to think he’s funding a European competitor to Google, but it turns out, eh…not so much. Chirac “doesn’t even know what a mouse is,” Bourdoncle told me. (The Guardian today was even harsher, wondering if Chirac “had been sniffing a little too much camembert.”)

So what is he funding? Well, according to Bourdoncle, there will be no single Quaero site. Instead, Quaero is a program, a long term effort to spur various European competitors toward creating better search related technologies. Participants will share R&D, for example, as well as become each other’s customers. In other words, this is a government funded attempt at pulling together a keiretsu of sorts.

Not exactly a European Google killer, I commented. Nope, Bourdoncle responded, and attempting to do that would be a pretty stupid move. I couldn’t agree more. Sounds to me, I thought to myself, that Quaero is simply a way for huge companies like Thompson to insure a steady flow of dollars from its government, and if using the Big Google Is Going to Kill European Culture meme helps along the way, so be it. Before I could even mention that idea, Bourdoncle addressed it head on, saying he was sure folks might see it that way, and he was not one to say if it was true or not. “I’m not really sure what (Thompson’s) strategy is,” he said. “They don’t tell me that.” Sounds like the keiretsu is shaping up nicely, no?

Meanwhile, Farber has more on Bourdoncle and Exalead here. Seems this company is one to watch, even if Quaero isn’t….

At ad:tech Today

By - April 26, 2006

I’ll be on a panel today (on search, natch) at ad:tech in SF, if you’re around, come say hi!

Google Promotes First Non Google Product on Homepage

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And it’s Firefox, and the execution is not exactly subtle. Now, it’s only promoted to folks inside the US, and only folks using IE (which is to say, most people, but not Mac folks like me who use Firefox or Safari). And, of course, Google Toolbar is featured heavily.

Up at Microsoft, they’re probably ordering new chairs for Ballmer’s office…


The Melanie Round Up

By - April 25, 2006

Melanie has been hard at work poring through feeds, looking for items of interest. She’s already got a bunch of great stuff, and as I’ve been behind, here are some highlights of stories from the past two days:

Adsense is allowing text links for referrals. And Matt is coy about using Toolbar data for search relevance. As I wrote in the book, I think clickstreams could be the next step in relevance.

A major new grassroots net neutrality campaign. Om says it’s missing some angles.

How much do you Google? This is getting a lot of attention.

Yahoo is catching up in clickthroughs

Sphere is launching. I can’t wait to use it. But the site is not open…yet…

Yahoo makes Meedio free. Talk about a TV mashup….

More to come….

China Rediscovers Porn, Bans It

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When you’re a totalitarian state with control over the entire Internet, and you decide to ban porn, you can actually do it. From a Times Online report:

Beijing has declared war on the wave of “unhealthy” internet content it says is engulfing the nation’s cyberspace, amid fears China’s young are being corrupted en masse by an influx of online sex and violence.

The nation’s leading news sites and internet portals have vowed to adhere to a strict programme of “self-censorship” to support the “Eight Honours and Disgraces”, a new doctrine of “socialist morality” recently laid out by Hu Jintao, the Chinese President. …

….The West’s leading internet players, – Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and eBay – have all been caught in the resulting controversy.

But the lure of China’s prospects has offset fears of negative reactions from their domestic markets. Last week, Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairman and founder, hosted Mr Hu at a dinner during the politician’s visit to America.

Eric Schmidt, the Google chief executive, used the recent relaunch of the company’s brand in China to reaffirm his commitment to the territory and made it clear that Google has no intention of confronting China’s ruling Communist Party over online restrictions.

Well, they’re learning from the best, aren’t they?