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Melanie's RoundUp

By - May 15, 2006

AdWords on Google Base

The Google Base Blog announced that users can now use AdWords ads to drive traffic to their Base listings, automatically geo-targeted with the keywords targeting based on the ad copy (screenshots, via SEW).


SELowdown opines, “So let me get this straight: Give us content to index through Base. Pay us to advertise this Base content in Google searches. Well I guess that’s not THAT different from Google’s current model…”

Conversely happy with the new union, VoidStar recommends eBay join Words-Base to rectify its own keyword targeting. Coincidentally, Forbes today reports about Google “increasingly infringing on eBay’s territory and limiting the online auctioneer’s growth potential, at least in the near term, according to Cowen & Co. analyst Jim Friedland.”

The article continues:

While the new Google Base service, a free database of product listings, has not become a significant driver of sales for e-commerce companies as of yet, 50% of the conference attendees said they have started to list products on the database. Advertisers that use Google keywords benefit from a 70% click-through rate, versus Yahoo!’s 18% and Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT – news – people ) MSN’s 8%, according to Friedland…Friedland also found that more and more small- and medium-sized businesses’ market resources are being directed away from eBay to Google AdWords and Google Base.

Google, Nokia Team-up for Mobile Search

A formal announcement is expected Tuesday of Google search powering the new Nokia, reports the WSJ (via CIO Tech Informer). The forthcoming 770 Internet Tablet allows simultaneous voice or IM alongside web surfing. It will be Google’s first foray into mobile telephone deals, which Google has made clear is the new territory its staking out. Connecting through the interenet rather than cellular signals, the Tablet provides Google Talk wherever there is wifi–making service spottier but cheaper, SeattlePI notes.

The WSJ: Because it’s based on short-range Wi-Fi technology, the device is not a cell phone…It’s a bit larger than the average PDA, and it features a high-resolution screen designed specifically for browsing the Internet.

Vista Cleared by DOJ

Despite Google’s accusation that Visa’s default to MSN Search (in absense of pre-set preferences) is unfair, the DOJ determined Friday MS has done no harm. CNet: As part of its status report on Microsoft’s antitrust compliance, the Justice Department said that it had reviewed the search box and concluded that Microsoft’s implementation “respects users’ and (computer makers’) default choices and is easily changed.”

Web 2.0 Commencement

Tim O’Reilly, giving the commencement speech for the UC Berkeley School of Information this past Saturday (John gave it last year), talked about defining Web 2.0 The full transcript is on O’Reilly’s site, Geeking with Greg excerpts:

The internet as platform. What does that mean? …It’s as simple as this: the secret of success in the networked era is to create or leverage network effects… When we first began thinking about Web 2.0, we asked ourselves what distinguished the companies that survived the dotcom bust from those that failed. And we came up with the surprising observation that in one way or another, each of them was good at harnessing user contributions, applying some of the same insights to consumer applications that leading edge software developers have applied to open source software projects like Linux.

A true Web 2.0 application is one that gets better the more people use it. Google gets smarter every time someone makes a link on the web. Google gets smarter every time someone makes a search. It gets smarter every time someone clicks on an ad. And it immediately acts on that information to improve the experience for everyone else.

It’s for this reason that I argue that the real heart of Web 2.0 is harnessing collective intelligence. …The world of Web 2.0 *can* be one in which we share our knowledge and insights, filter the news for each other, find out obscure facts, and make each other smarter and more responsive. We can instrument the world so it becomes somethng like a giant, responsive organism.

GigaOm also recently posted some new thoughts on Web 2.0 as meme, mainstream misunderstanding, and an enterprise.

Does Google Desktop “improve search”?

Jeremy Zawodny doesn’t buy the message from Marrissa:

We’re told that Google Desktop 4 improves search, but that’s not backed up by any evidence at all. Instead, we’re presented with a non-sequitur about gadgets you can use to increase your day to day information overload.

A Googley Economist Article

The running gag in a new Economist article was whether Google has become the new Microsoft. Though an excellent article, most of it overviews Google’s growth and culture with which Seachblog readers are already familiar, so just a few the highlights here. Google recently sent its first lobbyists to Washington, DC. Its decision to build an “evil scale” to help it devise its China strategy was more unusual, but its hiring of Al Gore, a former American vice-president, to aid the process, was just the kind of thing that old-fashioned empire-building firms do all the time.

The closing graph:

Google thus finds itself at a defining moment. There are plenty of people within the company who want it to play the power game. “The folks who are closest to Larry and Sergey are very, very worried about Microsoft, as well they should be,” says John Battelle, the author of a blog and a book on Google. Yet the company’s founders themselves may not be prepared to drop their idealism and their faith in their own mathematical genius.

Quote of the article: “Google seems to use betas as dogs sprinkle trees—so that rivals know where it is.”

DOJ Moves to Close EFF Complaint

EFF writes: Early Saturday morning, in the darkest hours of the night, the Department of Justice made good its threat to file a motion to dismiss our class-action lawsuit against AT&T, contending that AT&T’s collaboration with the NSA’s massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans’ communications (which violates the law and the privacy of its customers)–despite being front page news throughout the United States and the subject of government press conferences and Congressional hearings–is a state secret. The motion was accompanied by declarations by Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander, Director, National Security Agency and John D. Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence. We will vigorously oppose this motion. Donate to EFF and help stop the illegal spying!

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Melanie's RoundUp

By - May 12, 2006

Y! Answers Beta No More

Yahoo Answers plans to drop its beta tag on Monday. Since the launch in December 2005, Yahoo says its amassed a library of over 10 million Answers and 7.2 million unique users.

Picture 9Collexis Fingerprints

Yet another search service–but wait, Collexis claims individuality for “helping to get your job done by thinking for you.”

Instead of caching full pages, Collexis crawls for “Fingerprints” of content based on a thesaurus-rich text analysis that can access live pages, archives, and various other types of files.

“The system can create a fingerprint for each piece of text that contains relevant information, such as competence sheets, project descriptions or web pages. The fingerprinting process makes use of a structure of professional terminology of a particular field (essentially a thesaurus). Picture 10By doing so it embodies the way humans understand those terms and concepts.”

Collexis is a tailored industry search for government, university and medical research, pharmaceuticals, and banking and finance. Making data accessible and easy to manipulate will have nice implications for analysts and experts in all those fields, but Collexis also aims to make “it easy to use for even the most non-technical user.”

Google Execs Sell Lots of Stock

According to the SF Chron (via GoogleSystem), 14 Google Execs sold $4.4 billion in stocks last year and this year a dozen have sold $1.9 billion. “That includes founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, each of whom sold about $1.3 billion worth of stock.” They were actually asked about this at Google Day and Brin responded that like any investor it’s wise to diversify but that he intends to keep the vast majority of his stock “forever.” Based on the insider stock trade filing, the Chron also finds that of the $11.3 billion in personal income tax receipts California pulled in April, approximately an eighth or more derived from Googlers.

Speaking of MySpace…

Following-up John’s last post on the spike of hits from MySpace to Google, Paul Boutin has an article in Slate on why MySpace, as well as YouTube are pulling in the critical mass. Talking about the recent popularity stats on domains, which the WashPost posted, Boutin writes: I was skeptical when I heard how huge video-sharing hub YouTube and social-networking hotspot MySpace have become. YouTube claims 40 million plays a day, up from 35 million just a week ago. The answer he comes to is that the two social mega-hubs make it too easy to resist for non-geeks, making the web: “The secret to success is to make everything one-button easy, then get out of the way.”

Boutin also complains that Google Video (along with others) fall short by specializing the tools—in his words, presuming they know what users want–whereas MySpace gives you everything in one personalized space.
“MySpace isn’t that much easier to use than Friendster, or than other shared-user-content sites like Flickr (photo sharing), (bookmarks), or Digg (tech news). But it mixes multiple publishing models—blogs, photos, music, videos, friend networks—into one personal space. Most important, it doesn’t presume to know what your goals are.” In retrospect from Press Day, it’s a safe bet that the new Co-op exchange of social tags will include video soon enough.

Picture 8-1Withdrawing the Branch from Olive

Despite rumors the past few weeks that Google was going to buy Olive for $75 million, after looking the software company up and down in a week of intensive interviews Google then walked away. Olive software converts various data files (like PDFs, microfilm) into xml, accessible to search.

Is it a coincidence that a large portion of Olive’s employes are based in Israel and Google is opening new offices in Israel? Silicon Beat muses: Is Google turning into a Microsoft? Checking out the goods, and then going back and building it themselves? Or hiring away the better employees? Here’s what one person said: “Google learned a LOT about Olive… everything.”

VLAB Ad Forum on Ad Models

VLAB (the MIT-Stanford Venture Lab) is hosting a forum next Tuesday on new ad models. Hosted by Mark Kvamme from Sequoia, the startups Accomplice and Root Markets will talk about the dynamic of their models, alonside panelists from Carat Fusion, AdBrite and Google AdSense.

Indeed, the First PPC Job Search

Yesterday, Indeed announced the formal launch of its the first pay-per-click job advertising network. Unlike the Google and Yahoo PPC models, advertisers in Indeed don’t pick and buy keywords or write copy. Instead, offering a little wiggle room for advertisers, Indeed relies on the job descriptions to place relevant ads beside search results.

ICANN Rejects .xxx

The decision was considered by many internet freedom advocates as a test case for ICANN’s indepdence from US control
, the Reuters report. Over 1000 Diggers have tagged the ICANN announcement; and ICANN Watch is unsurprisingly not happy: “I would say that .xxx was a lousy idea, but that the people behind it followed all the rules and still lost — but that would suggest that there are rules.”

Picture 7-2Google Notebook Screenshots

Some pre-release screen shots of Notebook are on Flickr thanks to EricaJoy.

Yahoo CEO Pines for Google

Yahoo Chief Terry Semel tells The New Yorker his biggest mistake since 2001 was not purchasing the fledgling Google…although it seems he did not because Brin and Page would not sell. CNet notes that though this “story may have been told before, but it’s still a delight to hear from Semel’s lips.”

3 thoughts on “Melanie's RoundUp

  1. King Troll says:


    Damn bro you really write a lot.

  2. SorenG says:

    Very nice round-up. Thanks for this.

  3. Ken Chan says:

    SF Chron numbers reported incorrectly:

    You said: California pulled in $4.3 billion in personal income tax receipts last April.

    SF Chron said: California took in $11.3 billion in personal income tax receipts in April, $4.3 billion more than it collected last April.

Melanie's RoundUp

By - May 04, 2006

Bezos GunAmazon Clicks Away from Google

As we covered earlier, Amazon and A9 (in addition to Alexa) are no longer serving Google results, deferring to Microsoft’s Windows Live Search, after the expiration of the Amazon-Google contract on Sunday. Today, HitWise notes that the diversion from Amazon will be the bigger loss, highlighting that 10% of Amazon clicks veer to Google whereas only 1.8% for A9. SEW ruminated on the bandwagon of “Google dumpers” earlier. Citing a WashPost article –”Asked whether Microsoft’s search engine is better than Google’s, Tennenhouse said, “It will be up to users to try that out.”–SEW quips, “So more a business move than a relevancy issue, fair to say :)”

Eying the Enemy’s Enemy

John noted earlier today the WSJ framing the scene as Microsoft and Yahoo circle each other. More from the blogosphere on the dubious courtship:

SEW: Microsoft is behind with the core search technology. Yahoo’s been struggling to upgrade its paid search service. Let’s get these two kids together!

Kedrosky says: The two companies could hardly be less well suited to one another, with Microsoft having negative savvy in Yahoo’s consumer media markets — which is why if I were Brin/Page/Schmidt I’d do everything I could to convince supposed tie-up promoter Henry Vigil to get off his ass and make it happen. After all, there are few things better for your business than thoroughly distracting your two largest competitors.

And, notes from the peanut gallery: MSN may seek Yahoo’s broad audience, but wait, what would Yahoo gain again? Canadian MSN users would say unhappy users. On Sunday, for a several hours, they were greeted by gibberish and non-functionality (screen shots here and here).

Picture 7-1Spotback Launches

Spotback provides personalized search suggestions based on individual user ratings, rather than cached article views like Google and MSN. You don’t have to register to start using Spotback, TechCrunch’s favorite feature, but if you do you can start sharing ratings with other members. Geeking with Greg notes that the results are still off the mark, probably due to limited tracking dat, as well as continued algorithm tweaking.

Rumoritis: Google Health emerging next week?

Melissa Mayer suggested in a USA Today interview, “Health is an interesting one — keep your eye out for that next week.” Health has been rumored for sometime as an obvious Google vertical.

Via SEW, which earlier pointed to an interesting, older article from that has a cute anecdote on How Google is (Already) Changing Medicine (insertion mine).

Brazil Peering into Orkut’s Social Circle

Adding to Google’s pile of government entanglements, the Brazilian government is again pressing the search giant to share users’ private information. Apparently rival soccer fans used Orkut’s social networking features to organize a fight, and now Brazil—which is probably the only place Orkut matters — wants legal rights to user data to prevent crimes. Brazil’s Human rights prosecutor stated “authorities had received more than 14,000 complaints against Orkut for threats, racism and drug trafficking in March alone, the report further said.”

Picture 8Google Comic Book Search?

Lenssen visualizes…”Google already has a book search – wouldn’t it be nice if they expand this program to search comic books as well?”

Fraud Lawsuit Filed Against Yahoo

From the AP: A Yahoo Inc. advertiser has accused the Internet search engine of fraud, saying its ads have been appearing in spyware and “typosquatter” Web sites that take advantage of misspelled trademarks….The lawsuit said Yahoo failed to protect advertisers from a practice known as “click fraud,” in which competitors click on an advertiser’s ad hundreds of times to run up their rival’s advertising costs. Update: Gary at Resource Shelf posted the full text of the lawsuit.

Persistent Search, the Next Turf War?

A couple weeks ago Burnham speculated that persistent search (always on queries, basically) is the future direction for advertising potential and SEO obsession. Along the way he names the infant PS technology and stacks that against some improvements he sees as necessary before the fight can break out. Russell Mettie disagrees, saying Yahoo! API can already do it all, and to prove it he whips up an API combining PS and Yahoo search over the weekend. “Simply combine our Search RSS feeds with our Feed Alert system and you can get an IM, Email or an SMS (in the US) when the search changes.” Though, it seems Burnham is looking for “an end-to-end Persistent Search offering that enables consumer-friendly, comprehensive, real-time, automatic updates across multiple distribution channels at a viable cost. ”

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One thought on “Melanie's RoundUp

  1. Zhenlei Cai says:

    In vertical search engine space such as health, I think expert systems will be the next trend. Expert systems are AI type of programs that have proved their usefulness in medicine since 1980′s.