free html hit counter January 2007 | John Battelle's Search Blog

Dog Bites Man. Google Crushes It.

By - January 31, 2007

Just landed. Everyone knows Google crushed it again. But the stock seems to be priced already for crushing performance, because it did not pop in after hours. In fact, it dipped.

Seeking Alpha has the transcript of the earnings call. It’s really worth a read if you want to geek out – esp. Larry and Sergey’s comments on search and advertising, and the Q&A from the analysts.

  • Content Marquee

Google Earnings Preview

By -

Money2-2

Google reports earnings today.

Bear Sterns sent me an earnings note which declares:

Strong Paid Search Growth and International Market Share Gain Reaffirm Positive Outlook

· Paid Search Data Indicate Strength for Google. comScore released the December domestic paid search data yesterday. Google.com had 1.27B sponsored clicks in 4Q06, or a YoY growth of 63%. On a sequential basis, Google.com grew sponsored clicks by 22%. We think the solid sponsored clicks data reaffirm our positive outlook for the quarter. We are projecting $2.22B for Google’s 4Q06 total net revenues, or a 71.9% YoY and 18.9% Q/Q growth.

I will be on a plane for the earnings call, so I’ll ask you all to let me know how it went in comments. I can only imagine another crushing quarter. With the leverage Google has, it strikes me the real danger is knowing when to pull back.

Earnings call webcast will be here.

Yahoo's Brand Universe Strategy

By -

Yahoo Wii

I don’t get it.

Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not brilliant. I mean, in 1996, I told my fellow senior managers at Wired that the world didn’t need another search engine (we started Hotbot anyway and I’m pretty sure that’s the main reason Lycos bout HotWired).

From GigaOm’s coverage of Yahoo’s media day:

Throughout presentations from the Yahoo Media Group, a part of the new “Audience” division, the key word, uttered more times than we could count, was “promotions.” And so, in both overt and subtle fashion, Yahoo is a company transitioning itself into what’s essentially a marketing platform…..

The most obvious example of Yahoo’s increasing bent towards marketing is its new “Brand Universe” initiative, announced in November. The company will tie together its disjointed properties — such as search, groups, Flickr, Answers, avatars — to lead back to pages about a certain pop culture topic — for instance, Nintendo’s Wii.

..Yahoo says it will launch 100 such pages by year’s end; next up are the Sims, Halo, Lost, the Office, Transformers, and Harry Potter.

It feels off in some way, but exactly how has not struck me yet. Also, the new person who comes in to run the Audience group – a person not yet hired – might not like this idea. Then again, there is something to it that strikes me as an accurate read of today’s culture – brands are the new water coolers. Hmmm.

The Yahoo Wii page. More coming soon….

Noted: Google's Ongoing Assault on MS Office

By -

From ReadWriteWeb:

On Monday Google released a relatively minor, but useful, feature. It’s worth examining a bit more closely, because it’s yet another signal that Google is quietly pecking away at Microsoft’s lunch in office software. Now I know that Microsoft Office has a lot of advanced functionality that the online office apps don’t have, but hear me out…

Noted: Digger

By -

I should have a regular roundup of new search startups, but for now, consider it noted: Digger. Release. More on Cnet’s investment here.

Update: More on Digger at VentureBeat.

Do You Trust Your Government?

By - January 30, 2007

Read this. (ZDnet)

The FBI appears to have adopted an invasive Internet surveillance technique that collects far more data on innocent Americans than previously has been disclosed.

Instead of recording only what a particular suspect is doing, agents conducting investigations appear to be assembling the activities of thousands of Internet users at a time into massive databases, according to current and former officials. That database can subsequently be queried for names, e-mail addresses or keywords.

Cap'n Ballmer: Search, Full Speed Ahead

By -

Aricraftcarrier

Steve Ballmer gives an interview to the FT, the summary is here. From it:

Microsoft’s next big challenge is to address the threat posed by advertising-supported business models such as Google’s, Steve Ballmer, chief executive, signalled on Monday as the software group launched Vista, its new operating system.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Ballmer said that, having focused on the threat posed by open source software over the past few years, the company had now turned its attention to advertising-funded business models.

That means, I presume, that all those Vista engineers have now been tasked to focus on search. Ballmer spend a lot of the interview talking about search. In short: The order has come from the bridge of the aircraft carrier: Turn toward search and advertising models, full steam ahead!

We’ll see how the USS Microsoft has fared in three years, when that turn is complete….

When Microsoft (and Yahoo) Are Sucking Wind, Is It Fun to Be Google?

By -

Live Search

When Live Search launched, I was happy to see how the company positioned search as in the early stages of development (sure, they quoted my book, so that helped). But since then, it’s been mostly bad news for Live Search. A reader (thanks Michelle) pointed me to this Cnet story. In it, the author describes what most of us already know – that Microsoft has continued to lose search market share, and further, that some analysts believe that the Live brand has confused the public.

“Microsoft’s Live branding has been tremendously confusing and has hurt the company, and it is very likely contributing to the situation they are in right now,” said David Smith, an analyst at Gartner. “They’ve created another brand and have not differentiated it.”



It’s too early to pass “final judgment” on the strategy, Smith said. But now is the time for Microsoft to clearly explain its strategy, he said.

Now, whether or not you agree with this statement (and I have to say, I found the Live brand rather confusing myself when I first encountered it), when a story like this breaks, and folks start commenting on it, it’s time to join the conversation. Microsoft is still Microsoft, and I agree with the analyst, the company needs to have a voice responding to this marketplace meme of lackluster performance. Or maybe, just maybe, the launch of Vista will obviate it all? I sure hope that’s not the long term strategy.

I think in the end this has to do with the company’s massive brand equity in Office and Windows. Consumers totally get what Microsoft means to them – it means the desktop, and it means the main desktop applications they all use (I can say they, I’m a Mac guy, remember?). But when a new brand is launched – “Live” – that trades off Windows (“Windows Live”) and Office (“Office Live”) but fail to do what those things do online, well, it’s not going to work as a brand. Recall when I rather frankly suggested that Microsoft split into two companies? This is why.

I can’t believe I am saying this (I was a total Mac partisan in the early 90s Mac vs. PC wars), but I really, really want Microsoft to succeed in search and in Ray Ozzie’s vision for service-based applications. I also want Yahoo to shake off its funk, as I’ve written before. It strikes me as important to have as many innovators as possible in this field, as we are at a very critical moment in the development of this young industry. It’s too early for one company to win, and I sense that the folks over at Google would agree with me.

YouTube: You Want (Google's) Ads With That?

By -

Youtube

One of the more news-making moments of last week’s Davos event, at least as it relates to our little corner of the world, was Chad Hurley’s revelation (BBC) that it would soon be rolling out a system to share revenues with the folks who create its videos (Jarvis has the video). For me, this was sort of a “no shit, Sherlock” moment, I mean, did anyone really expect Google was going to buy YouTube and *not* make ads available inside the core product – the videos themselves?

But the way it was spun really struck me as impressive. Instead of “YouTube to Run Ads,” the headlines were “YouTube to Share Revenue With Creators.” Well played, my man!

I spoke to Chad briefly at Davos, and I am certain he and the folks at Google are deeply studying the best models to roll out ads on the site. My guess is there will be any number of units available (one might be just three seconds long, he told the BBC), and when folks upload their videos, they’ll be presented with a choice of the kind of ads they might want to roll into their video, and also, various placement options (ie, before, after, middle, above (?) etc). There will probably also be some kind of passive AdSense play a la Revvr, and for sure, the more aggressive units will also be some kind of AdSense video mashup, as the company hinted at in this recent post on Google’s blog:

Google will support YouTube by providing access to search and monetization platforms and, when/where YouTube launches internationally, to international resources. YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen and the rest of the YouTube team will continue to innovate exciting new ways for people to “broadcast themselves.”

Earlier this week, we announced one example of innovation in monetization and distribution with a new AdSense video test. We’ll be working with a wide set of content providers, grouping together high quality video content from providers with high quality ads and offering them as playlists which publishers can select from and display on their AdSense sites.

This was not a simple non-sequitor, even if it reads like one (the “innovation” references are not parallel). Google is working hard to figure out how to apply the rules of AdSense – write (algorithms) once, read many (dollars) – to video. There’s a massive audience out there, and there’s a lot of money to be made “sharing revenues” with it.

Eepybird

Ultimately that audience will determine, through its attention to videos, whether YouTube succeeds or fails at this new ad gambit. After all, producers of high quality video have plenty of options when it comes to hosting content these days, it’s cheap, and it’s easy. No one has to post content to YouTube, unless of course they want the distribution engine it has become (sound familiar? You don’t have to be spidered by Google, either, but who are we kidding here?)

The real question I have is whether, over time, YouTube will require that folks run some kind of advertising in order to gain access to its massive distribution engine. If you want to use YouTube to establish your brand, the way, say, the Coke and Mentos or Ninja guys did, will Google require that you cut them in for using the YouTube platform to do that? Will it ban other kinds of ads, ads competitive to its new units, that creators have inserted into their uploaded videos? What about Dove Evovideos which are, in essence, entirely ads, like the Dove Evolution phenomenon? The Dove folks LOVED that success story, but YouTube didn’t make a dime on it( and the agency folks who made the ad aren’t quite sure how they’ll get paid as well – they usually make money on the media buys, after all). As for denying competitive ads, the precedent is certainly there – AdSense bans competing ad platforms.

Huh. Innaresting. Worth some more thinking, when I’m not jet lagged and posting at 3 AM on a Monday morning. Till then, g’night…