free html hit counter June 2007 - Page 7 of 11 - John Battelle's Search Blog

PayPal + The Find

By - June 12, 2007

Pp The Find

It’s a co branded engine for PayPal commerce sites … check it out. From the release:

TheFind, Inc. ( today announced the launch of, a new shopping search engine built specifically to enable consumers to browse products exclusively from merchants who accept PayPal payments.

Just like results on, products will be shown to PayPal customers as visually compelling catalog-like images, not simply text links or thumbnail images. Unlike traditional comparison shopping sites, merchants will not have to pay for their products to appear in search results on; instead, products from PayPal merchants will be indexed and become part of the natural search results.

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Privacy Dashboard

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Remember when I wrote this? In it I suggested:

Is it too much to ask, I keep asking, to ask our online services to provide us:

– Access to a record of all the information they keep on us and how they use it

– The ability to challenge that data’s accuracy, and edit it for accuracy

– The ability to opt out (with a clear understanding of the resulting loss of services and opportunities that might result)

– The ability to set permissions as to who else might see the data

– The right to maintain a user copy of that data for archival purposes

– The right to share in the value of that data on negotiated terms

Is that so freaking hard to do? I sense that, increasingly, there is a market opportunity in doing this. I bet 95% of the public will never edit, or even view the data more than once. But the sense that the control panel is there, just in case, will be invaluable to establishing trust.

I later called this a Data Bill of Rights.

Danny just asked Google about this idea in light of the Privacy Intl kerfluffle (his post is long and very good) and Google’s recent post on “How Long Should Google Remember Searches?”, and he found out Google is seriously considering that approach. From Danny’s post:

I asked Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer about this yesterday, when talking to him about the Privacy International survey.

“We’re thinking hard internally along the digital dashboard-type of approach. Is there a way to give users a dashboard and visibility to all these elements and give them control,” he said. “It would be hugely complicated to build, but in terms of that vision, I completely share it, and we’re having deep discussions about it.”

Way cool.

Google Does Site Specific Performance, One Step Closer…

By - June 11, 2007

This may not strike the world as big news, but in the ad world, it’s important: Google today announced “Content Placement Reports”. Sounds boring, but stay with me here. (No links available for this yet, will update…)

What is it? From the announcement: In an ongoing effort to provide more transparency to advertisers, Google announced today the availability of a new AdWords report, called a Placement Performance report, which enables advertisers to see the exact sites on the Google content network where their ads appear. Placement Performance reports also provide site-by-site performance metrics – including domain, URL, impression, click, conversion and cost data – as well as aggregated metrics for traffic generated from AdSense for domain sites. With these reports, advertisers have much more visibility into their contextually targeted advertising spend and are able to leverage the information to more effectively optimize their campaigns and meet their objectives. Designed in response to advertisers’ requests, Placement Performance reports offer advertisers both increased transparency and greater control over their contextual advertising, which ultimately leads to more relevant ads for users.

In short, Google is dealing with what is known as the “blind network problem” – advertisers pour money into AdSense, and they get a sense of how the campaign performed in aggregate, but they have no idea which sites did great, and which sites did poorly, or often, even which sites they ended up on (unless they specified via the relatively new site specific buys on AdSense.)

This new set of reporting addresses this issue, allowing advertisers to determine where their campaigns are doing best, and then they can optimize accordingly. It’s a major step for Google, and it solidifies the company as the player to beat in third party ad networks. Does this have anything to do with the Doubleclick acquisition? Come on, is the Pope Catholic?

When AdSense launched, it was as a blind network that occupied the bottom of the value pyramid – it didn’t care where ads were placed, as it was driven purely by direct response (ie, did someone click on the ad or not?). An entire industry was born of this idea: Pour money in, get money back. Who cares where the ads show up, as long as they payoff?

Now Google will become far more driven by specific publishing sites – “we’ll help you find the sites where your ads do best, and help you target those sites specifically.” This in turn will help advertisers find the sites where response is greatest. However, direct response is not always the best measure of effectiveness. It works great for demand satisfaction, but it has nothing to do with awareness or demand creation. Those two key pieces of the marketing puzzle still require things that cannot be driven by algorithms – at least for now. Will Google get into the business of helping marketers craft campaigns for particular sites based on understanding the audiences at those sites? Until now, the company was not even close to that business. But with this business, it’s getting closer, and closer, to becoming what most of the world calls a content publisher. Interesting.

Update: Some reactions, coverage:




Update: Previous, related news from Yahoo.

You Think Google Won't Do What It Takes to Win? Think Again.

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Cheshire Cat

Google is most definitely a cat, not a dog, when it comes to brands. The image of Google is rather feline – it sits there unruffled, not really *needing you*, but then it jumps in your lap when you least expect it. Google is not a brand that, well, asks for attention.

That’s why this news came as something of a surprise to me.

In short, Google is going after eBay’s core, and it’s doing it by throwing a party. My goodness.

Are you an online seller attending eBay Live! in Boston this week? If so, join us for a celebration of user choice at the Google Checkout Freedom Party on Thursday night (6/14). To get to the party, just hop on the classic Beantown trolley in front of the Boston Convention Center and follow the freedom trail to the Old South Meeting House. We’ll use the same spot where revolutionaries launched the Boston Tea Party to celebrate freedom with free food, free drinks, free live music — even free massages. Join us and bring a friend. RSVP here.

Thanks Trish.

Reader Yong Writes

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Reader Yong writes: Regardless of this debate, google should be so intelligent as to take the necessary steps to prevent the abuse of its power. Instead of waiting for a disaster to happen, which may actually harm people.

It's … A Job!

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The Searchblog job board has gone mostly dormant after an initial flurry of action. Then this one lone job came around. I promised I’d post on the jobs every so often so go check it out, and you can still post a job if you want. Maybe I should add a fourth column and give the stuff way below the fold a better home…

Google Privacy

By - June 10, 2007


Well, this isn’t the finale, but it’s something of a curtain raiser. Those of you who’ve read Searchblog for a while knew this was coming. Google’s got a privacy kerfluffle at the moment, and the reactions are interesting.

The original release from Privacy International (yow, that’s not good).

The Media Story. (ouch, wow, says Average Joe Newsreader, Google sucks).

Danny (the counterintuitive Google defense).



In the end, this is only going to play poorly for Google. Sure, folks like us might read Danny or TC and realize the story has more than one angle. But two or three orders of magnitude more folks will only read the Media Story.

Google, get out in front of this one….

Update: Matt posts this response.Donna posts this response to that response.

This is Rich. Google v MSFT. The Topic: AntiTrust

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Thanks to Ars, I found this from the Times (OK, I have family in this weekend, I’m not reading the Times):

In the most striking recent example of the policy shift, the top antitrust official at the Justice Department last month urged state prosecutors to reject a confidential antitrust complaint filed by Google that is tied to a consent decree that monitors Microsoft’s behavior. Google has accused Microsoft of designing its latest operating system, Vista, to discourage the use of Google’s desktop search program, lawyers involved in the case said.

Read the rest of the story. It only gets better. How I wish I had time to report this…

Interview with Dick Costolo, Feedburner/Google

By - June 08, 2007

Dick CostoloFlamocon-Tm

When news of Google’s acquisition of Feedburner broke last week, those of us who have known Dick Costolo for a while were all smiles – Dick is a great guy, and we all love his service, which has a very publisher friendly approach and provides real benefit to us all. I shot a congratulatory email to Dick and asked him a few questions over the course of the week. Here’s the exchange:

Why did you sell to Google?

We help publishers manage distributed media by providing a suite of services for analytics, distribution/promotion, and monetization. On the media call yesterday, I said that we thought there was tremendous overlap between our competencies and the depth and breadth of Google’s offerings. Susan Wojcicki commented on this point during the call and used the term complementary instead of overlap, and I think that’s a much better word choice for a few reasons. We both offer detailed publisher analytics, but Google is extremely strong on site and marketing analytics while we are light on site analytics but very deep on feed and distribution analytics. Further, while our customer base is a critical mass of publishers (over 400k) that grows at an amazing rate, we have select advertiser relationships. It goes without saying that Google’s depth and breadth of advertiser relationships well complement the critical mass of publishers we serve. I could go on with a number of other examples like this. So, I like the term complementary as a defining theme for the reasoning behind this relationship.

Why now?

Timing about anything like this is always a hard question to answer, mostly because it’s not necessarily up to one party to decide on timing. Both parties have to agree it makes sense. That’s obvious I suppose, but it can make a unilateral answer to a timing question sound a bit (or a lot) disingenuous. Acknowledging that, I’d say there are two components to the timing question and both harken back to my answer above. I say ‘harken back’ as if I wrote the paragraph above in 1972. Anyway, I mentioned speed of innovation. We now have well over 400k publishers leveraging one or more of our services (do you like how I’ve pointed out that number twice? This is what we call ‘on message’). The type and variety of publisher working with FeedBurner has grown in interesting ways in the last couple years, and it has become more and more evident that in order to provide timely services to as many of our publishers as quickly as possible, FeedBurner must scale in multiple directions simultaneously. Google’s track record for scaling services and innovating on them quickly for a global customer base adds to the logic behind our decision. To elaborate on one element of this point, I have talked before about our desire to provide publishers with a 360 degree view of audience and reach analytics. This is an immensely difficult challenge – one need only note the continued inability of competent third party organizations to agree on classic page view or visitor metrics for many sites – and it has simply become more obvious to us that this is an important challenge and that fully meeting this challenge requires further innovation in a number of areas. Could it be pursued by a private company continuing to operate independently? Of course, but you always want to focus on making sure your customers are successful and part of that is understanding when there is a shorter path from here to there! The folks that we’ve talked to at Google and the work that we’ve all recently seen come out of Google Analytics convincingly point toward a shared vision. Apologies for switching between first person, third person, and second person all in one paragraph; I think that’s the grammar police at the door now.

What changes might we expect in the FB service?

Our immediate focus is integration along several service lines. Certainly, the FeedBurner services that people love will be integrated and enhanced with complementary Google services. While there is tremendous excitement about the kinds of next generation feed services we can deliver, we want to make sure we pay initial attention to speedy integration.

What will you do now that you could not do before?

The short answer is “more, faster”. We need to innovate along multiple axes simultaneously in order to meet the needs of such a diverse publisher base (analytics, distribution promotion, rich media syndication, etc), so we are now in a position where we can tackle more of these challenges more quickly instead of having to pick a linear innovation path that values some publishers over others. So, I don’t think we had anything we couldn’t do before, but now we can do more of the things we need to do more quickly.

Is everyone staying in Chicago? Will you join Google’s offices there?

Everyone is staying where they are based, yes (we have a few people based outside of Chicago), and we will indeed join Google’s offices in Chicago, although it is still unclear whether my request for a luxuriously appointed desk in the Queen Anne style is being taken as seriously as it should be.

What does this mean for Feedburner’s ad sales? Will it be taken over by Adsense, or will you continue to sell it independently?

We’re definitely looking forward to leveraging Google’s existing sales efforts. Selling it independently wouldn’t provide the scale we’d like to offer to publishers as quickly as we’d like to provide it.

Everyone wonders, no one asks, so I will: What’s it like to know you’ve made this kind of money?

As you well know, starting a company is hugely stressful, regardless of what you’re trying to build, and my cofounders and I have been doing this since 1995 or so. Especially as you get married and have kids, there’s just an always-on anxiousness in your mind about financial health, maybe sometimes more at the forefront of your thoughts and other times in the back of your mind, but always there, in much the same way you feel a constant anxiety about coursework when you’re in college (at least I felt that way!). So, to continue that analogy, it feels like the sense of relief you have after finishing a final exam; you have this stress that was present on some level for an extended period of time that falls away. That’s the best way I can describe it – you can see why I’m not a motivational speaker.

What do you want to be doing in five years?

I’m sure this will reflect poorly on my approach to personal growth, but I’ve never given thought to what I want to or should be doing a year or two down the road. I don’t know why, I’ve just never approached things that way. I generally think in very immediate terms like “is this fun” or “it’s time to stop doing this and try doing that”, but i’ve never thought to myself “by the end of next year, I should be doing X”, so I can’t for the life of me take an honest crack at what I’d want to be doing in five years. Right now I want to keep doing what I’m doing, but five years from now? It’s a mystery.

Thanks Dick, and congrats to you and the whole team!