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Google Audio Ads

By - December 07, 2006

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Google has released more info on their plans on the AdWords Blog.

Google Audio Ads brings efficiency, accountability, and enhanced ROI to radio advertising by providing advertisers with an online interface for creating and launching radio campaigns. You’ll be able to target your customers by location, station type, day of the week, and time of day. After the radio ads are run, you will be able to view online reports that tell you exactly when your ad played.

Over the last year, we’ve been partnering with both terrestrial and satellite radio stations across the U.S. so that our advertisers have many options for broadcasting their ads — whether it’s a Country station in Tyler, Texas or an Adult Contemporary station in New York City. Currently, there are hundreds of stations to choose from and we hope to grow the list over the coming year. Our broadcast partners are looking forward to making their ad inventories available to thousands of new advertisers, especially since they aren’t easily accessible today.

“Audio Ads” FAQ

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Outage Today

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Searchblog was down for a while this morning, sorry about that. We’re tweaking the settings and will get it right soon.

Google Checkout: Hard to Beat Free

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Google Checkout-1

Remember back when Netscape was charging for its browser, and Microsoft came out and made Internet Explorer free?

Well check this out:

To celebrate the holidays, Google is processing your Checkout sales for free

As you may know, for every $1 you spend on AdWords, you can process $10 of Google Checkout sales for free. Just in time for the holidays, we’re giving you even more by processing your Google Checkout sales for free through the end of 2007! Here’s how it works:

* From November 8, 2006 through December 31, 2007, we’ll process your Checkout transactions for free, even if you aren’t an AdWords advertiser. If you’re already an AdWords advertiser, we’ll process your Checkout transactions for free regardless of what you spend on AdWords.*

* Valid Checkout orders you receive during the promotion will automatically qualify.

* You can take full advantage of this promotion by encouraging your buyers to use Google Checkout on your site.

* Other applicable fees (e.g. chargeback fees) may apply. This promotion is subject to the Google Checkout Terms of Service. Google may revoke the promotion for accounts that do not comply with these terms.

On January 1, 2008, the standard transaction fee will apply again. Also, if applicable, your regular free transaction processing (based on your December, 2007 AdWords spend) will resume.

Using Google Checkout to increase sales and lower costs during this busy holiday season has never been easier. If we can do anything else to help, feel free to drop us a line. Happy holidays from Google Checkout!

OK, a few things. No. 1, anyone who buys this has *anything* to do with “celebrating the holidays” ought to put down that mug of eggnog. This has everything to do with taking share from PayPal.

Next, I spent some time this week on the phone with Tom Oliveri, the fellow who manages Google Checkout. He very patiently explained how I managed to get myself into such a tangle when I first used the service, and promised to help me fix my account so that I could use it again. I’m looking forward to doing that, and continuing my explorations. He also addressed some of my privacy/use of info issues, but honestly, no company is addressing them the way I’d like to see them addressed. He did patiently listen to my rantings on the subject, which is more than anyone might expect.

Semel Blogs

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On the Yahoo blog, Yodel Anecdotal (nice name), Semel posts some thoughts on the changes at Yahoo (I love that comments are open, are you listening, Google?). It seems clear to me, though I have no particular insights here, that Dan Rosensweig left because he did not like the idea of running the Audience group, which seems an equal to the new Advertising group run by Sue Decker. What I wonder is whether this new approach will work – will whoever runs the Audience group have the freedom to truly create great products? Or will it be subservient to Advertising’s demands? This is the great, central conflict of all Packaged Goods Media companies. Stay tuned, as they used to say.

Denise Caruso Launches Intervention

By - December 05, 2006

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Denise is a dear friend, and today she launched her book, INTERVENTION: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet.

Denise was pretty much Searchblog, Techcrunch, Web 2.0, Wired, and the Industry Standard all rolled up into one person back when no one else was paying attention. I attended her Digital World conferences in the early to mid 1990s religiously, and read all she had to write. She since has focused her considerable talents on the study of risk and science, and I can’t be happier for her that this book is out. She’s has also started a blog, focused on her writings. Congratulations, Denise!

Updated: Yahoo Reorg, Dan Rosensweig, Braun Out At Yahoo

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TechCrunch is reporting that #2 Dan Rosensweig is out at Yahoo. I’ll have more to say on this when I know more….

Update: SEL has more news, so does the Merc, and Yahoo has issued a release, which SEL has in full.

From Reuters

Yahoo Inc. (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile , Research) on Tuesday announced a reorganization that marks Chief Financial Officer Susan Decker as a likely successor to the current CEO and simplifies the Internet media company’s structure.

Decker will take the lead of a new unit focused on advertising, Yahoo’s main source of income, while media, communication, and other product groups will be merged into a unit focused on user activities.

Chief Operating Officer Daniel Rosensweig, a possible rival to Decker for the mantle of successor to Chief Executive Terry Semel, will leave the company in March.

Yahoo, a 12-year-old Internet pioneer, said no layoffs are planned as it restructures the company.

Update 2: Llyod Braun is also out. This is not a surprise.

Packaged Goods Media vs. Conversational Media, Part One (Updated)

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Time Warner

In the past month or so, three senior executives charged with running the interactive units of major media companies have either been shown the door, or have left on their own accord because they found their jobs no longer fit their character.

Jon Miller, who took AOL from death’s doorstep to a new model which stole a page from Google and Yahoo, was summarily offed in mid November. Ross Levinsohn, hailed as a genius within Newscorp for engineering that company’s purchase of MySpace, has decided that it’s more fun to build a new company than run one inside Mr. Murdoch’s empire. And Larry Kramer, until recently the head of CBS’s interactive unit, saw the writing on the wall when Les Moonves installed a new boss above him (Kramer remains an adviser to CBS).

Newscorp

What does it all mean? I know each of the three men reasonably well, and I’ve spoken to many folks around them, and it all points toward a trend that I’ve been itching to think out loud about: Major media companies are realizing that their digital assets are far more valuable than they initially thought, and they are reacting by putting folks in charge of those assets who they believe will protect the company. Not the *interactive* company, mind you, but the company that owns the interactive products. Why?

Let’s take each in turn. The general vibe on AOL is that Time Warner believes it’s time to treat AOL like any other major Viacomadvertising-driven media business – put in someone who lives and dies by advertising. So they install Randy Falco, a respected television executive with deep relationships with major brand advertisers.

Over at Newscorp, the folks I’ve talked to say that Murdoch viewed Ross as an M&A guy, and not an operator. It’s time to *operate* these assets, now that Ross has assembled them, and the new guy – Peter Levinsohn, another seasoned TV executive – is more of an operator than Ross (they are cousins).

And at Viacom/CBS, head honcho Sumner Redstone was apparently livid over his lieutenants’ failure to buy MySpace. So they have installed Quincy Smith, a seasoned technology/media M&A banker in the media space, to run Viacom’s digital assets (and Nbcuto buy their way to the table, as one can see from the recent hiring of a senior Yahoo corp dev executive). Kramer, who ironically is more of an operator (he ran Marketwatch for 12 years), apparently left because he didn’t want his job to be about buying companies, and he was not that pleased with having Smith inserted between him and Moonves, who had been his boss before Smith showed up.

One might argue that a supreme shuffle could have solved all of this – put Miller in Ross’s job (Miller turned AOL into an ad property, maybe he can do the same for MySpace), put Ross in Kramer’s job (he can buy stuff well), and put Kramer into Miller’s job (he can operate a big site like AOL).

But there’s more to it than that. All three of the departed execs are, in their own rights, extremely seasoned interactive executives. And while their replacements have some digital experience, it’s mostly in negotiating deals between traditional media companies and new the new digital world. And while I may get beat up for saying it, I must insist: Things are different running interactive properties. Deeply, importantly, significantly different.

In each case – Viacom, Time Warner, and Newscorp – the media moguls have installed folks who have no significant operating experience in the interactive world. (One can also argue that installing Beth Comstock as head of NBC Universal late last year – a very impressive executive who nevertheless came from a marketing background at GE – was a similar move).

What does this tell us about how these major media companies are thinking about interactive? Well, I’ll go out on a limb here. I think the moguls are thinking along these lines:

1. Interactive is now a very important, profitable, and growing business.

2. We can’t afford to not view this as strategic to our future.

3. We need someone running theses sites who is not an interactive “cowboy,” it’s time to grow up and treat it like any other major piece of our conglomerated business.

4. Therefore, I need “one of my own” running these businesses, and I expect them to deliver just like the folks who run my radio, TV, print, and/or other major asset groups.

5. “One of my own” is someone who lives and breathes my world – the world of Very Large Media Companies that Own A Boatload Of Intellectual Property Assets and have Massive Investments In Huge, Controlled Distribution Networks.

A perfectly logical and reasonable train of thought. And I’m not about to predict that AOL, Fox Interactive Media, or CBS Digital are going to fail because they’ve hired new blood. I am sure the folks who are now running these properties understand the depth and breadth of the shifts occurring in the Major Media Company businesses – but are they going to be empowered to do what they need to do to truly win in their respective markets?

What do I mean by that? Well, that’s the focus of my next TOL (thinking out loud) post. But the synopsis goes something like this:

There are two major forms of media these days. There is Packaged Goods Media, in which “content” is produced and packaged, then sent through traditional distribution channels like cable, newsstand, mail, and even the Internet. Remember when nearly every major media mogul claimed that the Internet was simply one more media distribution channel? They were right, but only in so far as it pertains to Packaged Goods Media. Over the past few decades, massive media conglomerates have built on the deep DNA of Packaged Goods Media.

The second major form of media, is far newer, and far less established. I’ve come to call it Conversational Media, though I also like to call it Performance Media. This is the kind of media that has been labeled, somewhat hastily and often derisively, as “User Generated Content,” “Social Media,” or “Consumer Content.” And while the major media companies are unparalleled when it comes to running companies that live in the Packaged Goods Media world, running major companies in the Conversational Media field require quite a different set of skills, and consideration of radically different economic and business models – models which, to be perfectly frank, conflict directly with the models which support and protect Packaged Goods Media-based companies.

It seems clear to me that the folks now charged with running the interactive assets of NBC, Viacom, Time Warner, and Newscorp – four of the largest Packaged Goods Media companies in the world – are charged not only with growing their own Conversational Media assets, but also with protecting the Packaged Goods Media assets of their bosses. And those assets are based on several heretofore unassailable pillars:

1. Ownership or control of Intellectual Property (ie content) by the corporation.

2. Ownership or control of expensive distribution networks (so that the content can reach the audience).

3. Established business models based on highly evolved approaches to advertising and subscription models – models which themselves are built upon the presumptions of #1 and #2.

Each of these three pillars – and I may stumble upon others as I keep thinking out loud – seem to be either irrelevant or significantly shifted in the world of Conversational Media. Note that I am not dismissing these pillars are they relate to Packaged Goods Media – far from it. But basing your Conversational Media business on these pillars is, frankly, entirely missing the boat.

In the next post, which I hope to complete sometime this week, I’ll focus on why. I’ll review the models of Packaged Goods Media and Conversational Media, highlighting the differences between them. As always, your input and criticism encouraged….

(note: I updated this on Dec. 16th, writing through it for clarification but changing no meaning/intent)

Spam, but What Kind?

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I keep a vanity Google Blog search in my RSS reader, and lately I’ve noticed a bunch of new splog entries – I think that’s what they are – that quote my book. They always quote the same passage from my book, and then mention perfumes. Like this:

John Battelle’s new book says the interface of commerce is changing, and Google’s poised to control it. Unfortunately, I need to be careful with it as a replacement bottle is not easy to come by. NAVY Perfume by Coty DUSTING POWDER 4.

The links never resolve to anything, but this is a sample link:

http://www.mumble-4.info/perfume/?p=484

http://www.mumble-4.info/ looks to be a splog directory. But there’s no content.

I’ll admit I am not sure how this helps a splogger. Any insights from my smarter-than-me readership?