free html hit counter June 2006 - Page 2 of 7 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Ah, The Greasy Feel of Newsprint on My Hands

By - June 27, 2006

WsjI read the print editions of both the NYT and WSJ today. Why? Well, I am traveling, on a plane, and for a period of about 45 minutes I could not have my computer on. That was just enough time to pore through the papers, and I will admit, it was a mostly pleasant experience. Not that I plan to subscribe to them or anything, and I did have to hit the head to wash my hands before cracking open my laptop to write this missive.

A few interesting things in today’s papers, beyond the exhaustive coverage of Buffet’s gift to the Gates foundation (truly astonishing.) First, in the Journal. Two full page color advertisements (wish I could link to them) caught my eye. The first, on page B5 of the Journal’s Marketplace section, was from Google. It was easy to tell it was a Google ad – it was mostly whitespace, with a number of colored spheres arranged randomly about the page. Each sphere, it turns out, was labeled with the name of a city where Google has a sales office. The ad implored qualified sales folks to contact Google. In other words, Google is hiring like crazy in sales, and apparently AdWords aren’t enough to find candidates. (What, great sales people don’t just type “sales jobs” into Google?!).

The next ad, at B9, was also Google related. In fact, it had a headline which blared “She Found Your Furniture Ad On Google.” The ad featured a picture of a young girl playing with a doll house. It was an ad for MSN AdCenter, touting its demographic-driven approach, and how much more relevant MSN was over Google’s AdSense (57% higher conversion rate, the ad claimed).

Apparently, while AdCenter is 57% better than AdSense, and AdSense is not good enough to entice the right sales folks to Google, neither product can live without a full page, color ad in the Wall Street Journal’s Marketplace section. As I recall, those ads go for $64,000 to $120,000 a pop, depending on editions and discounts. Something to think about. I’m not claiming this proves that print is alive and well (it’s certainly not dead, but parts of it are, well, pretty attenuated), but it does prove that enduring brands (the WSJ) and important and savvy audiences (those who read the Marketplace section of the Journal) have gotten a pretty clear endorsement from two of the very same giants who are supposedly threatening print’s very business model.

(An aside… if you’re a sales person who is thinking about jumping to a new job with an exciting new ad model, you could do far worse, of course, than working at Google (or MSN, for that matter). But, FM, my startup, is also hiring, here in SF, in New York, and even LA, should that be where you work. If you want to learn more, ping me or Chas. No point in promoting Google and MSFT’s ads without tossing in one of my own….)

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Cable Dreams

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A lot of dreaming lately by folks whose baggage is clearly lost somewhere over 1994. Latest is Leo Hindrey, a major cable player in the mid 90s, who claims that the Yahoo and Google’s of the world are temporary phenomena – and that soon all that will matter is distributors (the cable and telco guys, natch), and content (their pals at Disney, of course). Yahoo and Google, et al, will fold because they don’t own rights to content packages like movies, and they don’t control distribution, like cable companies and telcos.

This guy is deeply, hilariously wrong. TechDirt points out the first reason – he’s missing that folks don’t go online for content alone, in fact, they go online to communicate, converse, and to declare who they are in the world. Sure, they also expect content to be there, but increasingly, it ain’t Time Warner’s or Disney’s, it’s YouTube or blogs. And if the Disney’s of the world want to succeed on the Web, they best learn from the habits of the web natives, and not shove mid 1990s media models down their throats.

But Hindrey is also missing that the business model of controlling proprietary content due to massive capital outlays and control of distribution channels is, well, no longer the only game in town. There’s a new distribution sheriff in town, and his name is search. His deputy is the open Internet. Get used to it. It’s not going to go away.

Test the Jelly

By - June 26, 2006

Jellyfish

Jellyfish.com launched its beta today. The model is to get advertisers to bid directly for the attention of the customer by paying them…eliminating the middleman.

Infoweek coverage.

Ask Filtering

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Ask Ped

Some buzz around the web regarding Ask’s filtering of terms like “pedophilia“, which returns no results, instead informing you “This query does not comply with Ask.com Terms of Service.”

Such a response certainly gives me pause (why can’t I research any topic I want, even if it’s unsavory?), so I asked CEO Jim Lanzone about it, and he assured me it was an overzealous adult content filtering problem, and it will be resolved this week. It does raise the issue, however, of what is being filtered, and how, and how much we know about it. That merits more discussion.

Updated: Odd – Why Is Google Not Returning Results for "Amazon.com"?

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Goog Amazon

There’s probably a very good reason for this, but I don’t know what it is. As a Searchblog reader KK discovered, the query “amazon.com” returns no results in the current Google service. It returns tons of results in Ask, Yahoo, and AOL, which uses Google to power search. Odd.

Is this an anticompetiive thing? I can’t imagine. But a Google search for Yahoo.com does bring up one result – “yahoo.com.” Amazon.com does not.

Update: A Google spokesperson responds: “This is a technical problem that we’re currently working to resolve. We’ve talked to Amazon and they’re aware that we’re working quickly to correct the issue.” I then asked: “How is this a technical issue? I mean, what kind of technical issue? Can you give some more details as to how a technical issue created this, just for Amazon? Or is it wider?” If I get an answer, I’ll post it here.

Tips On Ads That Work

By - June 25, 2006

E-Media Tidbits points to a Neilsen/Norman eye tracking study that reveals:

…people do not look at static ads with graphic treatment.

Users seem to “zone out” (with their peripheral vision) ads and other site elements that have clearly distinguishable ad features such as graphics and colors that make the ads look different from the rest of the site, or animated ads….When users DO look at ads with graphics, those ads usually have:

-Heavy use of large, clear text

-A color scheme that matches the site’s style

-Attention-grabbing proprieties such as black text on a white background, words such as “free” and interactive (UI)

It’s interesting that the ads which are “native” to a site – in other words, that are driven by text, as much of web still is, and that follow a site’s design approach, do best. It reminds me of ads in Wired in the middle years – advertisers started to adapt Wired’s unique visual grammar, and the whole publication felt like one ongoing conversation. I’ve argued for the past few years that advertising needs to not interrupt, but rather be part of a site’s dialog. This research seems to confirm that concept.

Melanie's Round Up

By - June 23, 2006

Stall on net neutrality vote

The Sentate delays its vote on the telecom bill affecting net neutrality, until at least Tuesday.

Tim “inventor of the internet” Berners-Lee posted a video on his blog saying, “When I invented the Web, I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission… Freedom of connection, with any application, to any party, is the fundamental social basis of the Internet, and, now, the society based on it.”

Yahoo Mobile

Yahoo launches mobile web access to mail, IM, and contacts.

GeoportailFrench satellite maps

The French government unveils Geoportail.fr, a site with detailed satellite imagery of the country that it says has better resolution than Google Maps. (via Reuters) Same as Resource Shelf’s complaint however, the page didn’t load on my try.

Internet Archive, Alexandria v.2

CNet takes a close-up look at Brewster Kahle and the ambitious work at the Internet Archive “to build, make freely accessible and preserve what he calls–in reference to the legendary lost library of the ancient world–the “Library of Alexandria, v.2.”

Resource Shelf expands on the article, noting the only thing missing is a mention of the Archive-It program, which allows institutions to create their own web archives.

A long talk with Snap

Search Engine Lowdown posts an in depth interview with Snap CEO, Tom McGovern and COO, Fre Walti.

Premium Google Videos free in trial sponsorship

By - June 22, 2006

Google is currently offering premium videos free as a pilot for content sponsorship. Only a small number of advertisers and media publishers are participating in this limited trial. The ads run at the end of the videos and Google says user-generated content will remain ad-free.Picture 3-2

How it works (from Google):

1. Advertisers select and bid to sponsor individual videos.

2. The winning bidders for each video are promoted in three ways:

- The ability to run a 15-30 second post-roll video ad

- Persistent branding while the video is playing through a text and icon above the video player

- A listing on the sponsored videos page

3. If a user navigates to one of the sponsored videos, we only show the in-stream video ad once the video has finished playing. If the user clicks the text, logo or visible URL above the video window, they will be taken to the advertiser’s site.

4. At the conclusion of the campaign, the advertiser will receive stats on the performance of his/her campaign.

Mpire

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MpireThe newly launched search site, Mpire, combines product comparisons across multiple sites with product analytics to aid consumer decisions.

Shoppers gain a more accurate picture of market prices with consumer analytics such as bid/price histories on products, and recommendations on optimal days and times to bid. In partnership with eBay, Craigslist, Yahoo, and Overstock, Mpire serves as a convenient access point for users to “search by price, seller, type of payment, location [or] how many bids there are on any given item.”

Former Expedia president Matt Hulett joins as CEO: “Think of it as the start of ‘Shopping 2.0’ ― search and analytics to help buyers make smarter and more informed decisions.” Mpire’s step toward transparency parallels Farecast, which Battelle wrote about earlier.

Melanie's Round Up

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Adobe Flash to include Google Search

Adobe enters a distribution deal to bundle Google Toolbar software with its downloads for several years, starting now with Shockwave. This is a shift to larger upfront marketing costs for Google, Reuters notes, in a race before the Vista release. (As a glimpse of market share, Shockwave currently runs on 55 percent of web connected desktops, according to Adobe.)

Real-time ad auctions

Right Media offers automated real-time online auctioning for ad spaces, bypassing traditional ad agencies and increasing market transparency. According to RM, its platform now includes 11,000 ad networks, advertisers and publishers, trading about two billion impressions daily. (CNet)

New Google ad system

Google announces Content Referral Network for select publishers–an ad system that aims to overcome the CPC fraud-vulnerability in AdSense. CRN will reward by completion of commercial actions (CPA), such as filling out a survey or making a purchase. (via Monetize)

Google as media Co. — Vint Cerf

A Searchblog reader in the Netherlands points out a Dutch documentary about Google, “in which Vint Cerf clearly does see Google as a media company, as he compares Google with a newspaper or television station” in an explanation about bias in the media. Viewable online here, this excerpt is in the frame beginning at 46:58/51:04. (Thanks Martijn.)

Brain powered search?

Scalability, submission quality, and natural language issues be damned, Jatalla defies trends in algorithmic-powered search engines and turns to human computing. Scheduled to launch in July, this index is fed by user-submitted “lexivotes”– three link recommendations per term. The engine returns results based only for exact-term matches, and users are limited to one lexivote per term.