free html hit counter March 2007 - Page 6 of 8 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Google Takes New Privacy Steps: A Start

By - March 14, 2007

But it’s not what I’d like to see. From Google’s blog post:

When you search on Google, we collect information about your search, such as the query itself, IP addresses and cookie details. Previously, we kept this data for as long as it was useful. Today we’re pleased to report a change in our privacy policy: Unless we’re legally required to retain log data for longer, we will anonymize our server logs after a limited period of time. When we implement this policy change in the coming months, we will continue to keep server log data (so that we can improve Google’s services and protect them from security and other abuses)—but will make this data much more anonymous, so that it can no longer be identified with individual users, after 18-24 months.

Why 18 to 24 months? Well, I’d wager because Google is all over personalization and doesn’t want to hobble itself. More soon…

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Net Neutral? Not Sure

By - March 13, 2007

It’s a fraught issue, but over at GigaOm there’s a primer on current Google positions worth reading….

Update: Google says “we’re not changing our view!”

A statement from Google sent to me (along with a Save the Internet post):

“Google’s position on net neutrality has not changed one bit. We strongly believe that Congress must take action to ensure a free and open Internet, in the face of a highly concentrated broadband market. Furthermore, Google’s position — which we testified to last year in Congress — is that broadband network operators should not be permitted to charge any content owner extra fees or extra tolls. We continue to support net neutrality legislation by Senators Dorgan and Snowe, and by Representative Markey, and we remain steadfast members of the coalition supporting net neutrality.”

And from Vint Cerf, who I pinged:

“We haven’t really changed. We think that consumers should know about any restrictions in their use of broadband services and that [broadband] providers should not discriminate among application service providers.”

A Modest Proposal To YHOO and MSFT: Spin Out A Search Company

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One of the longer bomb predictions made by a number of analysts and pundits in the past 12 months has been the following: Microsoft will take its pile of cash and massive market valuation and buy Yahoo. Hell, I even suggested it. The logic goes something like this: Combine the two companies’ reach and search share, their CPM advertising businesses and various other plays, and you have a behemoth that can take on Google.

Fine, except I don’t buy it anymore, mainly because I think both companies are not well positioned to deal with a successful merger. And, I think there might be a better way. Now, those of you who read regularly may recall my LiveSoft post a year ago, in which I suggested that Microsoft set its Internet businesses free. Well, thanks to many folks who work in the industry (and one in particular who will remain anonymous for now), my thinking has evolved. I no longer think Microsoft should spin out LiveSoft, nor do I think it should buy Yahoo. Instead, it should roll out a new company that focuses on one thing: Search monetization. But it shouldn’t do it alone. Instead, it should be a joint venture with Yahoo.


Hear me out. Everyone knows how difficult it’s been for both Yahoo and Microsoft to beat Google at its own game – search. Yahoo has been beat up for years over its lackluster monetization efforts – after initially gaining plaudits for its bold purchase of Overture. And over at Microsoft, search is still at the Windows 1.0 phase, and the rumblings I’m hearing out of Redmond are not encouraging. People are leaving, search share is dropping, and recruitment is tough.

But then again, both companies bring a lot to the table. Yahoo did a great job combining several engines into one solid organic search performer, and early reports on Panama are also solid. Microsoft has an innovative approach in its demographically-driven AdCenter. Both companies have significant traffic of good intent. For building search companies, Yahoo is in the right location. Microsoft has huge market cap and cash. Both need to do something, quickly, to prove to Wall St. that they can compete with King Google.

So why not join forces, like back in the good old days when Overture fed both Yahoo and Microsoft? Such a venture solves any number of tough problems. For example, it lets Yahoo and Microsoft focus on what they are good at. For Yahoo, that’s digital lifestyle applications and services and the CPM ad revenues that come with them; for Microsoft, it’s Windows and Office (and MSN, I guess….). Despite the packaged goods mentality displayed by the “well, we’re done with Vista, now we can focus on search” approach, the initial response to Vista is proof enough Ballmer & co. might want to keep its engineers focused on the product that drives the majority of your revenues – Windows. And little birdies all over the Valley tell me folks at Yahoo are tired of the search-driven fire drills there, they want to get back to the cool stuff like Pipes….

A second and substantial reason to do this is to stop trying to kill each other in the race to catch Google. Separately, neither company is going to catch Google anytime soon. Why not work together, combine resources, and give the world what it really wants – a legitimate answer to Mountain View?

The company might work like this. Because Yahoo is further along with Panama and YPN than Microsoft is with AdCenter, Yahoo gets more credit in the JV for that asset class. Microsoft, because it has more cash, funds the lions share of the JV. Should each company also toss in organic search? To be discussed, but not necessarily required.

The new company, let’s call it Soverture, is owned 50% by each party. Each party also throws in – and this is very important – a long term (ten years?) contract binding it to using Soverture’s services in both direct search monetization (AdWords) and across its properties where it has a syndication play (Facebook, eBay international, etc.). Top talent is assigned into the company, and it’s located in the Valley, so recruitment is easier.

Soverture is then released to develop a killer search monetization solution, one that is unfettered from the current political and structural woes of its parent corps. Spin another 20% out in an IPO, and set the company on a path of providing an alternative to AdSense. The timing is perfect – a ton of AdSense contracts are coming up soon (Ask, for example), and with all that cash from Microsoft, Soverture can afford to buy the business while it develops its way to parity with AdSense.

OK, I’m going to stop writing now, and ask you all: Is this crazy? I know there are tons of reasons why this would NOT happen, but it also makes a lot of sense, no?

Look, I've Tried to Only Threaten To Sue…

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…clearly, Viacom’s takedown orders were not enough. The process of negotiation-by-lawsuit has begun.

WSJ, Slashdot, Seeking Alpha (Henry Blodget), more Seeking Alpha

And here’s Google’s emailed PR response:

“We have not received the lawsuit but are confident that YouTube has respected the legal rights of copyright holders and believe the courts will agree. YouTube is great for users and offers real opportunities to rights holders: the opportunity to interact with users; to promote their content to a young and growing audience; and to tap into the online advertising market. We will certainly not let this suit become a distraction to the continuing growth and strong performance of YouTube and its ability to attract more users, more traffic and build a stronger community.”

And an updated statement from Google, attributed to Kent Walker, general counsel

“YouTube has become even more popular since we took down Viacom’s material. We think that’s a testament to the draw of the user-generated content on YouTube. We’ve been very successful forging thousands of successful partnerships with content owners — like Warner Music, Sony/BMG, Universal Music, BBC, and the NBA — interested in finding new audiences for their programming. These partnerships offer the YouTube community access to some of the best content in the world, ranging from entertainment and sports to politics and news. And we’re only getting started.”

And ResourceShelf has the actual complaint here.

Travelin' Back

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Light posting today. Much afoot. Watch the TellMe news (apparently Microsoft may buy them). Recall my write up of TellMe here back in January….

Goodness. AT&T In The Search Biz

By - March 12, 2007

How? By buying Yahoo, of course. This article reports the good folks at AT&T have considered it. A monumentally bad idea, to my mind. Imagine a major telco owning a search company. Imagine further them owning a bunch of media, applications and content. Imagine the business model such a company might be inclined to push. Tiering, anyone?

Google Dish

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Matt dishes on Google and Dish. Recall my Friday musings some years ago (which ended up in the book), I discuss the future of advertising on TV….