free html hit counter November 2006 - Page 7 of 9 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Google as Ad OS? Sure, If You're A Programmer

By - November 11, 2006

Beth Comstock

Over at GigaOm, Robert Young posits an interesting and clarifying concept: That Google is developing a universal OS for advertising. It’s a tempting idea – a unifying metaphor that helps us grok Google’s advertising ambitions – but I think the meme needs a perspective from outside the Valley distortion field.

Certainly all of *us* may want a clarifying metaphor that helps us grok Google’s relentless push into nearly every advertising market on earth, the real question is whether *advertisers* want it as well. And I think in the end, the answer to that question is most likely a qualified no (qualified because they’ll always be happy to push a portion of their budget through automated and efficient channels). But in the end advertisers are not computer programmers, they are marketers, and while it’s true that the approach of AdWords and AdSense pushes remarkable efficiencies and opportunities into the practice of marketing, I posit that the practice of marketing is about more than efficiency. It’s also about emotion, passion, and conversation. And no matter how hard you try, you can’t automate conversations. At least, not until Google (or someone else) pushes computing past the Turing test. And once that happens, what’s the point of marketing in the first place?

As Beth Comstock (president of NBC Interactive and at left) said to me on stage at Web 2 earlier this week (I’ll paraphrase here): Google is great at pushing efficiencies into the advertising market. But that only serves to highlight and increase the value of truly unique and well produced content (like GigaOm, for example). That kind of content needs to be served by marketing that is part of an ongoing conversation, a conversation that, for now anyway, simply cannot be automated.

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Back…

By - November 10, 2006

Hey Searchbloggers –

I’m back from a week long dive into the Web 2 conference, and will post my thoughts on that event shortly. Meanwhile, the comments here seem to be broken, and we are working on fixing it. Turns out that my human detector is having fits with Akismet, and we’re trying to track down a fix. Sorry about that…

UPDATE: TinyTuring (the human detector) and Akismet were warring, so we turned Akismet off for a bit. Seems to have cleared up the problem…for now.

Marissa Mayer on Googley Lessons

By - November 09, 2006

Marissa Mayer, at Web 2.0 today, shared insights into some lessons Google has learned in trying to serve users. The take-away is that Speed is just about the most important concern of users—more than the ability to get a longer list of results, and more valuable than highly interactive ajax features. And they didn’t learn that from asking users, just the opposite. The ideal number of results on the first page was an area where self-reported user interests were at odds with their ultimate desires. Though they did want more results, they weren’t willing to pay the price for the trade, the extra time in receiving and reviewing the data. In experiments, each run for about 8 weeks, results pages with 30 (rather than 10) results lowered search traffic (and proportionally ad revenues) by 20 percent.

In other notes from today’s web 2.0… EMI Chairman, David Munns and the Pirate-in-a-suit, Eric Keltone, just took the stage together, and responded to Battelle’s request that they envision the idealized conditions that would allow music mash-ups to be created and shared online, while allowing the corporate bastions of the music industry to continue to prosper. Eh…it’ll happen they both say, but after revisiting the Beatles mashup debacle they weren’t hugging as they walked off stage… to the beat of ‘Strawberry Fields’.

SEC Chair Suggests Blogs for Financial Disclosure

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Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox suggested on Friday that the SEC will consider allowing companies to push their financial information to the public via blogs —- and he did so by posting himself on a blog on Friday. That’s the first time an SEC Chairman has posted on a blog, but moreover, if the SEC approves blogs as a medium for disseminating financial disclosures it will be a recognition that blogs meet the criteria to reach a ‘broad public audience through non-exclusionary means.’

Chairman Cox also invited the opinion Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun, on the viability of relying on blogs for this federal financial regulation. Schwartz, one of the few executives who blog for their company, earlier requested to use blogs for this mechanism. (NYT, Post)

AOL Acquires News Search Company

By - November 08, 2006

Picture 3-14Today, AOL announced the purchase of Relegence, a New York-based search engine specializing in financial news and information, for an undisclosed price.

More from CNet:

Relegence, a subscription-based service, aims to deliver relevant information to users’ desktops as soon as it’s published, regardless of the medium used. The notification and delivery technology draws from such sources as local and international newswires, television and cable networks, regulatory filings, Internet bulletin boards and Web sites and is designed to be integrated with internal streaming content.

Collarity Launches Personalized Results Engine

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Picture 1-27Collarity CompassT, launched Monday, is a search engine that automatically ranks search results based on an individual’s interests. By tracking the search terms, url choices, and selections of users and visitors, Collarity responds to a user’s ‘hot spot of interest’ (i.e. query) with sites visited by expert-users in that area.

Levy Cohen, CEO and founder of Collarity, was nice to answer some of my questions; but as to how Collarity determines which results are considered successful for a given expert-user’s search (versus sites they visit to evaluate, but decide are not useful/credible), he says that would dip into the secret sauce.

UPDATE: For some reason, some readers are having trouble posting comments to this post. Among them Mr. Cohen. So I’ve posted what he’d like to, below. From Levy Cohen, CEO of Collarity:

I certainly didn’t mean to be evasive or dismissive regarding your question above. The issue is that there is no short concise answer to the question, but I’m happy to attempt one.

I think your question was, in essence, how Collarity recognizes a “good or right” choice vs. a “bad or wrong” choice when developing a personal relevancy formula for a user.

Collarity is a learning process that eventually converges, after a number of samples, to what best fits a registered user’s contextual relationship with a given keyword. There are many dimensions of learning (single event, session level, personal history, community membership, and global) that are brought to bear in the process of distilling personal relevance. All of these dimensions audit the process in real-time. They determine what has “fit” in the past but, more importantly, they determine how a user’s tastes might be changing over time.

It is not so much a “what is right” thing. It is more of a “what is MORE right today” thing – there really is no wrong. Some things are just “more right” statistically over time. The interaction score is based on the confluence of those micro events (all supporting and testing each other), and the system basically “course corrects” with each event.

Like.com Unveils a Visual Search Engine

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Picture 4-9The search company Riya today launches its visual search engine Like.com, based on appearance in addition to text. The Like engine is particularly apt at finding consumer products that provide, as ZDNet describes, “visual similarity shopping.” Riya found product hunting was a more popular application of their technology among users than facial recognition search, which they tested on MySpace.



TechCrunch, which illustrates the ease of finding a similar watch to Ms. Paris Hilton simply by searching with a cropped image of her watch, hails Like.com as the ‘first real visual search engine.’ It’s a direction that can only grow– according to Riya, current keyword-based image search accounts for only 8% of queries. Though a number of big players have expressed research interest in visual search, the going has been hard, and Like.com is in many ways ‘the first’ to pull together an engine ready for prime time.

Happy Election Day

By - November 07, 2006

The Rimm-Kaufman Group offers some very interesting results in a study of paid search ads in the swing Senate races of 2006. A few highlights from the study results:

* Political pay-per-click advertisers use Google. Few political advertisers use Yahoo Paid Search.

* There are few political advertisers: the average search results page for queries in this study returned only 3.7 ads.

* The most prevalent advertisers within this query set were Accoona (search engine), Gather.com (social networking), CafePress (retailer), and GOPSenators.com (National Republican Senatorial Committee).

* “Red” ads (pro-Republican or anti-Democrat) outnumbered “blue ads” (pro-Democrat or anti-Republican) two-to-one.

* No campaign ads referenced President Bush.

RKG focused on Google AdWords, in part because they found that the vast majority of political online ads went through AdWords. Their findings fuel the study’s conclusion that paid search is still in its infancy–despite providing similar reach at a fraction of a cost. And they’re likely quite right in predicting that online search ads will become increasingly important in the American political campaigns.

Plus: This week Battelle is busy on stage at Web 2.0. But though away from Searchblog on election day, he put the question to a few prominent business leaders, asking how their companies handle freedom of speech and privacy issues when federal law stands in opposition— interviewing Eric Schmidt, Arthur Sulzberger, and Barry Diller. There was a spontaneous round of applause for Google’s refusal to respect a federal demand for users’ search histories, and for The New York Times’ decision to disclose evidence of the government’s stealth spy program on its own citizens. Diller and Sulzberger also intoned on the multiplied difficulty of operating globally, where they face a variegated array of laws and cultures of government control. That was a point underlined when Jack Ma of Yahoo China/Alibaba said that, for him, abiding by the Chinese government’s censorship was simply a decision of ensuring that the areas where his company could improve peoples’ lives would continue to thrive.

On Googler's Fear: Getting Big, In The Worst Way

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Chris Sacca opines:

I have worked with engineers from a variety of household-name big companies. Like some universal truth that transcends language, national borders, industries, or even market cycles, I hear the same two things from those in organizations that are no longer innovating: 1) They never get to work on teams smaller than 200 people and 2) They haven’t launched anything in years. Why? They are suffocated by myriad processes, hierarchies, templates, forms, and flow charts.

The leaders of Google have realized…that the company’s own growth would be the biggest challenge and have toiled unflinchingly to build scalable and transparent systems for encouraging the freedom to innovate and collaborate without jumping through some of the unnecessary traditional company hoops. …

…Nevertheless, the potential big company pitfalls are always looming. As the size grows, I see colleagues, particularly those who join Google from other companies, tempted to carve out fiefdoms and mandate SWOT analyses and extensive Excel spreadsheets littered with three letter acronyms. I have seen a few mid-level bosses evoke the traditions of Japanese management and schedule “pre-meetings” to plan, discuss, and approve what will be planned, discussed and approved at the actual meeting itself. MBA-speak creeps into the parlance and these new managers require the filing of more and more TPS reports.