free html hit counter May 2006 - Page 7 of 7 - John Battelle's Search Blog

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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Gates Pushes Ads

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Sm4 06Back in the mid 1990s I was managing editor of Wired. Each month it was my job, working with Kevin Kelly and Louis Rossetto, to wrestle some huge idea to the ground (in the form of a long narrative, usually), give it a conceptual hook that made readers want to open the magazine, then imagine what that idea might look like on the cover of the magazine. In mid 1996 we alighted on what we thought was a very big idea – Microsoft, the champion of all software companies, was becoming a media company. If you did the math, it was clear as day. To bring the idea home we turned Gates into a media mogul, placing him on a raft in the middle of a pool, ostensibly somewhere in Beverly Hills, natch.

I convinced Denise Caruso, a dear friend and talented editor, to write the story (The story is here). We worked around the clock to bring this story home, and it was not without controversy – in fact, Bill Gates was so adamant that we had the story wrong, he came to our offices to disabuse us of the notion. (Louis, our editor in chief and CEO, was convinced the reason Gates hated our line of thinking was that media companies had terrible multiples on earnings, compared to software companies. If MSFT was seen as a media company, it’s stock would tumble.)

My, how times have changed. Now Microsoft says it’s being underestimated as a media company, and it plans to prove it. And that Wired story ten years ago rushed back to mind today as I read the stories about Microsoft’s ad ambitions. From the Seattle PI:

Microsoft Corp., trying to reshape its business through advertising revenue, made its pitch Wednesday to some of the world’s biggest advertisers. But the topic of Google was unavoidable — even for Bill Gates.

“They’ve done a great job on their search, and what they’ve done with advertising,” the Microsoft chairman acknowledged in response to a question from ad exec and TV host Donny Deutsch. But Microsoft, he said, “will keep them honest in the sense of being able to be better at a number of those things.”

“I think this is a rare case where we’re being underestimated,” he added. That was the underlying message from Gates and other Microsoft executives on the opening day of the MSN Strategic Account Summit, attended by hundreds of representatives of major ad agencies and well-known advertisers such as Target, Nike, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson.

FM Platform Launches

By - May 03, 2006

What the hell is Battelle doing over at FM? Tonight you can find out, we’re launching the beta of our new advertising platform for high quality blogs. More over here ….

Microsoft Says: We Can Build a Friggin' Grid Too

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Via Linden, this Seattle PI story reports on Microsoft’s ambitions to build a massive grid – and spend an additional $2 billion doing it. This is the real test of a company’s mettle – will it go big to create a platform for all computing, regardless of its near term potential monetization. Microsoft has seen the writing on the wall, apparently. And the company can outspend anyone at this particular game. Anyone.

Now, the company is NOT saying this publicly. In the piece its CFO would not comment on what the money was being spent on, other than to say they will be hiring a lot of sales folks. But it’s clear that Microsoft must build a rival to Google’s infrastructure if it is to compete. As Linden put it:

Few others have the resources to build this massive online computing infrastructure. Who else can build, maintain, and exploit a cluster of millions of servers? Who else can spend the billions required? Not Amazon. Not Ask. Not any venture-funded startup. Probably not Yahoo.

The search war is now an arms race.

Amen to that. I do quibble with one point – I think Yahoo will spend its way into this game.

I wonder if it makes sense to just buy Sun for the server building capacity! (Just a joke, Jonathan…)

Yahoo and MSFT: No Way

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Here’s the graf you need to pay attention to in today’s big story (Journal article here, paid sub):

Currently, talks of an equity stake in Yahoo don’t appear to be active, given that Microsoft is focusing on a reorganization that it hopes will re-energize its effort to compete with Google, the fast-growing provider of search services and advertising.

What the F? This seems to be a non story. Everyone talks to everyone about everything, all the time. End of story.

MSN Most Relevant For Insurance Companies In Cincinnati

By - May 02, 2006


SEW points to YAS (yet another study) which shows that MSN wins in an unscientific relevance test. One would not want to generalize to the billions of results (and infinite queries) that search provides, but if you’re looking for insurance quotes in Ohio, brother, you’re golden. From the study’s intro:

We didn’t start out attempting to figure out which search engines were most relevant, we started out looking for holes in the results. Then we would structure our marketing and search engine optimization projects to fill the holes. This makes it much easier to grab new customers than simply going after the most popular keyword.

To target the holes, we needed to know three things. Which terms to target, where the holes were, and what kind of site was currently filling the hole. Then we could construct a marketing and SEO program that would cost less, and be more effective.

This example was taken from ananalysis for an insurance company in Cincinnati Ohio.

We do our initial research and come up with the twenty search terms for insurance and the types of insurance this company sells. They are most concerned with increasing the auto insurance business.

Our research shows that the most popular term is Cincinnati insurance. We do our research and find that most of the results in the first two pages are well optimized pages, and it’s going to take quite a bit of work to crack.

The Melanie RoundUp

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Track Tim in Google Earth

Tim works for and is wearing the product of a GPS tracker company, and he’s become a lab rat for tracking folks using Google Earth (no privacy implications here, of course). There’s also a New Yorker named Dave both wearing a live tracker and displaying images from a cam on the side of his glasses.

Google Parses Top URl Search Result

Google tests more UI results, this time trying divvying the top result into its hierarchy, letting users choose relevant content within. The test occured at least in Dutch and French, categorizing into articles, links, forum, games, teaching lessons, etc… As SEL notes, “If this is something that becomes widespread your page naming conventions had better make sense and be accurate ;)”




“The Most”: Search-Directed TV

Finally, TV becomes less dumb by letting search trends to determine news/entertainment content (yeah, Current does this, sort of…). Though the execution of the idea is has yet to be seen– this is a neat idea, something of a triumph of search potential and technology into the MSM.

(Perhaps a future trend, and places them in better competition with UTube/Digg and the like.)

Yahoo! and MSFT, the Counter-Attack, Enough?

Business Week article on the tech overhaul of Yahoo! and MSN adCenter. Concludes that their changes may hurt rather than help, suggesting that advertisers want Google’s large audience more than a super-targeted small group. MSN’s targeted ads hope to used demographics on users, but Google prefers to continue improving the prediction ability of the few cached words it stores from individual search histories.

(Interesting juxtapose to your recent post) Also, MSFT to invest an additional $2 million in web services to compete.)

Grayboxx Local Search

How exactly is Grayboxx going to improve local search? Well, their algorithm is in the stealth stage, as their beta webpage says, so they aren’t revealing details yet. But it looks like a guerilla tactic approach to ranking local results, taking cues from tags in digital images and Outlook address books to create a local community rolodex of favorable votes “without imposing review-writing chores.”

Rhode Island May Be First Wi-Fi State


An interesting mashup between search and community tagging, the new Swicki attempts to create a “cloud of buzz” by essentially providing communities ;with search histories (or so I gather from the demo).

(These could be useful for well-delineated, like-minded groups who share trust in knowing what each other is interested in. But many online communities are dynamic experiments, a game of musical chairs with very different-minded people potentially approaching the same subject (or search) in different ways. In other words, it could just be frustrating to a minority member of a given community–though for the rest a boon.)

Google Interactive, Integrating User/Expert Feedback

Matt Cutts calls it Google++, paying closer attention to user and expert feedback on product design. Recently used for the customization of Base and Talk, notes Blogscoped.

(This initiative is likely to become key to the future survival of Google–as it bloats– finding ways to insure that user experience remains a central driver in directing the company’s innovation instead of splaying in all directions.)

Internet Archive sells extended archiving for organizations

Archive-It 1.5 provides subscription-based service that allows institutions to store, categorize history (at lower price) from their website and WWW. “Users are able to explore and access these text-searchable collections, without needing additional technical expertise.”

MySpace Videos Most Popular in Days

And Yet More….

Utah Techie takes on Orrin “watchman state” Hatch with Open, Wired Campaign,70761-0.html?

WashPost Stops to Talk About ParkedPages

The Tech Market in Mega Churches

Wired article juxtaposes well with 2004 article, transition from “Churches wage war on Cell phones”

From 2004:

Google Lags in South Korea

Kamal Writes…

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Reader Kamal writes: IMHO, having a notion of initial default search engine and letting OEM set it for consumers is a major bargaining position for consumers. This way every search engine would pay money to OEMs to get themselves as initial default. OEMs in hyper-competitive PC market would pass the buck to the end users to make their PCs cheaper. Consumers win!!! Read More Read More

Google Worried? Yes.

By - May 01, 2006


One of the things that struck me the most about talking to all the folks at Google was this principle: the closer you got to the core, the more you heard the word “Microsoft.” Eric Schmidt spent most of his career fighting (and losing to) Microsoft. Ram Shriram worked at Netscape, as did Omid Kordestani. John Doerr – enough said. The folks who are closest to Larry and Sergey are very, very worried about Microsoft, as well they should be.

Today’s NYT has a piece which provides some details on what Google is doing about that concern. From it:

With a $10 billion advertising market at stake, Google, the fast-rising Internet star, is raising objections to the way that it says Microsoft, the incumbent powerhouse of computing, is wielding control over Internet searching in its new Web browser.

Google, which only recently began beefing up its lobbying efforts in Washington, says it expressed concerns about competition in the Web search business in recent talks with the Justice Department and the European Commission, both of which have brought previous antitrust actions against Microsoft.

The new browser includes a search box in the upper-right corner that is typically set up to send users to Microsoft’s MSN search service. Google contends that this puts Microsoft in a position to unfairly grab Web traffic and advertising dollars from its competitors.

Web 2 aside, most folks use IE, and it’s still a critical distribution channel for Google. With Microsoft increasingly seen as the underdog in all things Internet, it’s not surprising to hear that Google is actively reminding the world of Microsoft’s virtual monopoly on browsing, nor is it a surprise to see how active Google is in promoting Firefox.

Again from Lohr’s piece:

The focus of Google’s concern is a slender box in the corner of the browser window that allows users to start a search directly instead of first going to the Web site of a search engine like Google, Yahoo or MSN. Typing a query and hitting “Enter” immediately brings up a page of results from a designated search engine.

That slice of on-screen real estate has the potential to be enormously valuable, and Microsoft is the landlord. Internet Explorer 7 is the first Microsoft browser to have a built-in search box, while other browsers like Firefox, Opera and Safari have had them for some time. Google estimates that the boxes, when available, are the starting point for 30 to 50 percent of a user’s searches, making them a crucial gateway to the lucrative and fast-growing market for advertisements that appear next to search results.

Read to the end to get the kicker: PC makers can change the default engine in IE7 – selling it to the highest bidder. Now do you wonder why Google is in bed with Dell?