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My Ray Ozzie Interview On Biz 2

By - May 09, 2006

OzzieI’m still not used to the idea that my stuff at Business 2.0 is not behind a paywall. But it ain’t. Here’s my interview with Ray Ozzie. From it:

When the deal went down, people wondered, Was it Groove that was getting acquired, or was it Ray Ozzie?

The answer’s “Yes.”

At such a big company, there’s so much to tackle. What did you do first?

The first few months I spent doing what anyone who sells a company should do – make sure the acquiring party doesn’t screw up the acquisition. Fortunately the culture that we had built at Groove matched the Microsoft Office development culture, and Groove will be part of Office moving forward. After a few months, I started spending a lot more time in Redmond. Before doing anything, I just wanted to get to know people and understand the map of projects. It’s very broad. Every organization is the product of its leaders and its culture and the negative and positive things that have happened to it over time. So I tried to just learn from people there.

The Microsoft culture is famous for its bureaucracy. People joke about how hard it is to get battleship Microsoft to tack. Did you find that to be true?

It’s true in different ways in different parts of the company. The Windows organization has completely different processes than the Office side, which is completely different than MSN. The MSN culture is younger they’re used to more rapid turnaround in getting their products out. Both the Windows and Office sides ship a product with a mentality of 10-year support. The MSN side puts code into an Internet ecosystem where people don’t expect 10-year support. Users expect to be on the latest version all the time.

What’s different at Microsoft?…..

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Melanie's Monday RoundUp

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Microsoft (Finally) Landing on the Map

The acquisition of the mapping and 3-D imaging company Vexcel brings Microsoft into the running with Google and Yahoo Maps.

But MS has bigger plans. SenseWeb is MS’s project to provide real-time maps that integrate localized data like gas prices, traffic reports, and even average wait time for Sensewebrestaurants. MIT’s TechReview notes that while other research projects—at Berkeley, MIT, Stanford—also aim at including variable data into maps (irregularly updated), SenseWeb alone is attempting to create up-to-the-minute updated results specific to a user-defined area. The technology requires a feed of incoming data from individuals and auto-detecting equipment (currently underserved):
One challenge for the SenseWeb project will be making the different types of information pulled into its database consistent enough to analyze and sort, says Samuel Madden, professor of computer science at MIT. For instance, there would need to be standard units for temperatures. “As soon as you start integrating Earth Adall this data, you can imagine that weird things will happen,” he says. “It’s really a challenge to build tools that work with generic data and to come up with a way that anyone can publish their information.”

Microsoft has gone so far as to add favorite celebrity sites to its maps. CelebFavorites signed Alex Rodriguez, for example. All this localized personal search in maps leads Geeking with Greg to fancy Search without Searching.

Testing Ads on Earth

In other Map News, Google Earth is again showing AdSense Ads in Earth (image above left), reports RadioactiveYak and Ogle Earth.

G Health-1Drum-roll on G-Health…

Drawing closer to the expected release of Google Health on Wednesday, some fodder for the excitement:

Screen shots of targeted health screen results generated by Nico; SEW wonders aloud if this preview is G-health or if we should expect more; Blogscoped notes a minor error; Garrett Rodgers thinks this test site is more-or-less G-health and voices some cautious disappointment:

Basically, Google Health is what I expected — an enhanced way to search for health related material. Lots of people were hoping for a more feature-rich product (including myself) but that’s not usually how Google operates. They like to see and hear what people want before they spend time developing what they think people want — this is how they get things done so quickly.

MS Ads Imbedded in Video and Mobile

Via Internet News:

Ads delivered by Microsoft’s newest acquisition, Massive Inc., will soon start appearing within games played with Xbox LiveR, MSN Games and other Microsoft online services. Integrating two areas receiving greater attention from the software giant, Microsoft’s purchase of New York-based Massive links its new AdCenter with its successful Xbox LiveR subscription service.

Targeting Censored KeywordsGoogle.Cn

Can it be done in Google? ICE (Internet Censorship Explorer) tested the possibilities, successfully placing an ad in for Human Rights Watch on the search term “human rights china” that even when the HRW site itself was censored. Says Blogscoped: Bug or feature? I think it’s a feature!

Inside Google Book Search Blog

Picture 2On Monday, Google launched a new blog for book search. What to expect, from the blog: our team sharing thoughts, tips and the occasional announcement about Book Search. We intend for this to be a place not only for Book Search enthusiasts, but also book lovers of every stripe. We’ll be highlighting cool books we’ve found, discoveries you’ve made, big thoughts about the future of book search and more.

MS Buys DeepMatrix

Yahoo is unveiling its new AdCenter, and Microsoft is already on the chase, purchasing DeepMatrix:

The purchase is to enable Microsoft to “deliver new Web analytics applications in future releases of Microsoft adCenter.” Last year Google acquired Urchin, and then renamed it to Google Analytics in November and began AdWords integration soon after. Microsoft will possibly do the same.

Google Founders Investing in Brazilian BioEthanol

New Google Blog: This May, according to ‘Cidade Biz’, Page and Brin will open a new office in São Paulo aiming to investing in Bioethanol processing plants. Last year, they made a similar investment in the North American company Nanosolar, wich develops and produces thin solar panels.

Your Help: Vint Cerf and Jonathan Miller

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As part of my ongoing quest to stay abreast of major net issues, get ready for Web 2, and satisfy my editor’s desire to have interesting conversations for Business 2, I’m talking to Vint Cerf and Jonathan Miller this week. What should I ask them?

OK, But How Do I Make A Word Bold?

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Day Two, and I’m sort of hooked on learning this AdWords thing. Thanks to you all, I’ve changed my mix of keywords, separated my content bids from my search bids, been on the alert for Chinese based clickfraud (thanks, China Boi….no, really….) and a lot more. But here’s a puzzle I ran into (the answer is below). I am testing the keyword “blog advertising” (stay away, fraudsters, I’m not spending that much…). This is a very hotly contested keyphrase, and Google wins the auction, as its ads are at the top. Here’s a shot of the ads at the top:

Adwords 2

There are also a ton of ads on the right, and you can see that by lifting my bid a bit, I’m at the top of the heap.

Adwords 3

Cool! But that seems to tell me one thing – that not many folks are clicking on these ads – if they were, I couldn’t have jumped over all the other contenders simply by adding a few pennies to my bid (as Google calculates position based on bid price AND click through rate…). Or, maybe I could – hummm.

Anyway, here’s the real question. I noted that Google’s ads had the word “blog” bolded. AHA!, I thought. Here’s and example of the house dealing to itself! I couldn’t find any way to bold MY ads using Google’s platform. I’ve caught Google with its hand in the AdWords cookie jar!

Of course, a bit more research on the AdWords help page, and I found out this:

How do I make my ad text bold?

Your ad text will appear bold whenever it exactly matches a user’s search terms. This includes your ad title, body, or Display URL.

Ahhhh….indeed. Shoulda figured it was something like that. Time to go change my creative to match the keywords….

And keep those tips coming, folks. I’m learning a lot!

My First Day As An AdWords Advertiser

By - May 08, 2006

Adwords PicI’ve played around with AdWords before, just to learn about how it works so I could write about it with some first hand knowledge. But I was never a “real” AdWords advertiser – I didn’t have anything to sell. Sure, my publisher (and Amazon) have purchased the “John Battelle” keyword, which is great, but I had nothing to do with that.

That all changed today, when I created an account with Google and started a campaign, for real, promoting Federated Media’s new ad platform. Now, sure, it may be odd to use one ad platform to promote another, but I believe that AdWords and FM are complementary, and further, well, I’m a big believer in intent driving content, as anyone who’s read this site or my book knows. Plus, the more I know about Google, the smarter I might be as we take FM into the future.

The lessons so far are really, really interesting. I’ll be sharing them as I go along, but a few to start:

– The AdWords experience so far is really slick. I know many of you who have used AdWords for a long time may have serious beefs, but for me, I was really blown away at how good the initial setup and UI experience is.

– I had a question and got an answer via a real person using IM within five minutes. That is really impressive, in particular given the griping I uncovered a year ago when my reporting consistently turned up how difficult Google was to contact.

– I thought perhaps of using IM again to ask this question, but instead, I’m wagering you all might know. My campaign has been running now for about 8 hours, and I’m starting to see clicks coming in. What strikes me as amazing is the number of impressions on “Google Content” sites (ie, AdSense) versus Google Search. It’s not even an order of magnitude larger, it’s several orders larger. When you think about it, this is not surprising (the market knows that search is riper pickings than content, after all.) But, Google breaks out reporting for search clicks (ie, for a particular search keyword, here are the number of clicks), but not for Google Content clicks. At least, that’s how it seems to work. I wonder why? Anyone know?

– So far, I’ve been experimenting with about 30 keyphrases, and the most interesting stuff is to see how often that phrase is actually typed into Google. From what I can tell, I have not burned through my daily limit, so I’m getting a pretty accurate reflection of how often those terms are requested each day. Even if I’m only seeing a portion of the actual number of searches, it appears I’m getting an apples to apples comparison of which of my search terms get the most impressions, which is interesting learning.

– Lastly, I’ve read Google’s AdWords TOS, and from what I can tell, I’m not in violation of them by posting this. If I am, I’m hoping some kind reader from Google or one of Google’s partners will let me know how, and why.

I’m really looking forward to discovering more, and quite impressed – one day in – with the power of the service. It makes me wonder if the analysts covering GOOG from Wall Street are actually Google customers. Here I was, yapping about the company, but not actually interacting with this side of their equation. Fascinating.

News: Yahoo Launches Major Update to Ad Platform

By - May 07, 2006


I’m plum tuckered out (always wanted to say that) from finishing up the first draft of my paperback chapter (wooohoooo) but it’s worth noting that Yahoo is rolling out a major update to its ad platform tonight. I got a run through from Tim Cadogan at Yahoo late last week, and the new interface is slick as can be, and very clearly targets what Yahoo believes are weaknesses in Google’s AdWords platform. I’ll have more later…but for now, here’s MSNBC’s story.

Melanie RoundUp – Brief Weekend Edition

By - May 06, 2006

Quintura Search Approaches Launch

Quintura Search brings out version 1.5 boasting “complex query using a map of related words.” It’s generating some buzz as intuitively easy to understand – its display is interactive and lively, with fairly rewarding results.

Some initial questions after I checked-out the
demo (I didn’t fool around with the program because you need IE to install). What if the secondary search term you want isn’t displayed? It’s not clear if the order in which you choose the search terms effects the results. Quintura looks to be a great tool for exploration, for example of linguistic association or hierarchal learning, but it’s potential to compete directly with single-entry search looks murky. Even if not a replacement to the titans, Quintura is adding a welcome dimension to the evolution of search.

Microsoft Answers with QnA Beta

Windows Live QnA Beta is expected soon, providing some competition in Q&A service to Yahoo! Answers (free, community/amateurs) and Google Answers (paid researchers, community comments). QnA is a collaborative effort–with individual ranking and community exchange. Based on precedent, Resource Shelf expects it to be free. From Live: “ask any question and get the 411 from people who have the answers you’re looking for. Everybody’s an expert on something–including you–so tap into that collective brain power and contribute your own.” The curious can sign onto the beta list here.

More MSFT: A Froogle Foe, Live Products

TechCrunch makes some comparisons: an important difference between Froogle and Live Products, however. Froogle takes data from merchants via a push model (merchants use a Froogle API to include information), whereas Live Products pulls the data from the main Live Search web index – so Live Producst is presenting crawled results and algorithmic ranking. Merchants will be included if they are in the index without taking any additional steps.

Live Products is not as good as Froogle yet, although a big part of this may be due to the fact that Froogle, with their push model, obtain very structured data from merchants. Live Products, in contrast, structures the data directly.

Friday Wondering: How Much Is New?

By - May 05, 2006

I wonder….how much of the web is “fresh web”, and how much is the same old stuff? By that I mean, at the most granular level of indexing – the word and the phrase – how much is relatively new, and how much has already gathered a lot of digital imprints?

I wonder because my old little league coach andy vollero has very few mentions in Google. Nothing to link to, in fact. He’s clearly in the BG generation (Before Google). But I posted on him just now, and also in the last post. So he’ll have two entries now. I wonder, each time Google, Yahoo, etc. crawl, how much of what they find is truly new – in the sense of entirely new words, phrases, names, etc? It’d make an interesting graph, I’d wager. Any of you search geeks out there have any ideas?

It's My LAST Public Book Gig: Pasadena, CA Tonight

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VromansYou never thought you’d hear it, eh? But this is a special one. Nine months after my first book tour appearance, (at the Bunch of Grapes on Martha’s Vineyard, where I have family), I’m doing my last signing, at Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena (where I grew up).

Vroman’s holds a very special place in my heart – it’s my childhood bookstore. It’s still my ideal model for “a place you can buy books.” It’s the largest independent bookstore in Southern California, and a wonderful place to just hang out. The store’s Chairman, Andy Vollero, is a family friend (and was my little league coach, but now you know more than you wanted to…).

Tonight at 7 pm, I’ll be talking about The Search, seeing old friends, and generally enjoying myself. I hope anyone down in the Pasadena area can join in!