free html hit counter September 2007 - Page 3 of 8 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Opening Up The Social Graph

By - September 20, 2007

You may recall in August I noted that David Recordan was going to Six Apart, and Brad Fitzpatrick was leaving to join Google. They promised to do some cool work on the concept of the social graph, popularized recently by Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. Today David posted some news about work he’s done:

Your lists of friends and connections on the social websites that you use, sometimes called your social graph, belongs to you. No one company should own who you know and how you know them. OpenID, which was born at Six Apart less than two years ago, was successful by embracing a similar philosophy: no one company should own everyone’s online identity. An open social graph is just as important as an open identity.

* You should own your social graph

* Privacy must be done right by placing control in your hands

* It is good to be able to find out what is already public about you on the Internet

* Everyone has many social graphs, and they shouldn’t always be connected

* Open technologies are the best way to solve these problems

More on this soon…

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By - September 19, 2007

200Px-Talk Like A Pirate Day

No postin’? Yaaaaaaaaar. Twas celebratin’ the day, acourse!

Honestly, I had a very full day of meetings, with my pals at Six Apart, Cnet, Current, Mark at Facebook, and more. It was good to be on the road chatting with people again. I hope to do more of it.

Google Does Rich Media Ads (Like the Rest of The World), But With A Few New Twists

By - September 18, 2007

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It’s happened: Google has embraced rich media, and true to the company’s history, it’s taken what everyone is already doing, and added some cool twists based on innovations across the market. (This move was noted by many, including Niall).

But this is not just “ads as widgets.” It’s leveraging the media plan as the message (sorry, McLuhan). At FM, we’ve also created some of these units (our ads driven by RSS feeds, for example, won FM a Webby honor). And it’s certainly true that advertisers like ’em.

I’m particularly pleased with the use of “conversations” in the release, as well as a step toward what I’ve termed “sell side advertising” – the idea of putting your ads out there and letting the publishers/people drive them. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s nice validation nevertheless. Here’re the juicy bits of the release:

Google AdWords Introduces Google Gadget Ads, a New Interactive Ad Format

Engaging and flexible ad units give advertisers a new way to communicate with users online

Mountain View, Calif. – September 19, 2007 – Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the introduction of Google Gadget Ads™, a new interactive ad format that is currently in an expanded beta with a select group of AdWords™ advertisers worldwide. Gadget ads – non-traditional ad units with interactive, rich media capabilities – not only enable advertisers to target audiences in a flexible and timely manner via regular updates within the ad unit, but also allow users to engage with ad content in a way static ads haven’t facilitated in the past.

Gadget ads can incorporate real-time data feeds , images, video and much more in a single creative unit and can be developed using Flash, HTML or a combination of both.

Designed to act more like content than a typical ad, they run on the Google™ content network, competing alongside text, image and video ads for placement. They support both cost-per-click and cost-per-impression pricing models, and offer a variety of contextual, site, geographic and demographic-targeting options to ensure the ads reach relevant users with precision and scale. Gadget ads are also built on an open platform, allowing anybody from individual advertisers to agencies to set up and run ads on the Google content network, the world’s largest global online ad network. Plus, gadget ads will not command any serving or hosting costs.

Feedback from preliminary beta participants, including brand advertisers such as Pepsi-Cola North America’s Sierra Mist, Intel, Honda, Six Flags and Paramount Vantage, has been overwhelmingly positive. Advertisers are enthusiastic about this fresh marketing solution that empowers them to have conversations with targeted users through rich, dynamic and engaging content.


In addition, users can build active communities with gadget ads by sharing them with each other and placing them on nearly any webpage, including personalized iGoogle pages. These portability and sharing capabilities simultaneously generate additional free traffic and help foster a sense of community between advertisers and users. Detailed interaction reports allow marketers to track dozens of actions within the creative unit and optimize toward their goals. To learn more about Google Gadget Ads, visit

It’s not quite sell side advertising, yet, but it’s a big step. And a long walk away from those original, cute, text based adwords of yesteryear.

The question is, as Google starts to innovate across its content network, will large publishers who have NOT adopted these kinds of units start to take Google’s ads, particularly if they begin to threaten those publisher’s traditional sales channels? This is not an idle question, it’s a very real one. Google was not threatening to a publisher’s core competencies when the ads it served were great backfill for unsold inventory. Google always pitched its network as supplementing a publisher’s in house sales force. But these kinds of ads may well overcome them. Do publishers really want to outsource their relationships with their revenue to Google? Innovations like these will force the question. And the creation of in house creative/agency competencies, as noted before, will push the other side of the equation – the agencies.

Innaresting, indeed.

How Google Might Lose In Software: Joel On Software

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Read this, it’s quite thought provoking. Especially for old journalists like me who actually covered Lotus 1-2-3.

And your programmers are like, jeez louise, GMail is huge, we can’t port GMail to this stupid NewSDK. We’d have to change every line of code. Heck it’d be a complete rewrite; the whole programming model is upside down and recursive and the portable programming language has more parentheses than even Google can buy. The last line of almost every function consists of a string of 3,296 right parentheses. You have to buy a special editor to count them.

And the NewSDK people ship a pretty decent word processor and a pretty decent email app and a killer Facebook/Twitter event publisher that synchronizes with everything, so people start using it.

And while you’re not paying attention, everybody starts writing NewSDK apps, and they’re really good, and suddenly businesses ONLY want NewSDK apps, and all those old-school Plain Ajax apps look pathetic and won’t cut and paste and mash and sync and play drums nicely with one another. And Gmail becomes a legacy. The WordPerfect of Email. And you’ll tell your children how excited you were to get 2GB to store email, and they’ll laugh at you. Their nail polish has more than 2GB.

Crazy story? Substitute “Google Gmail” with “Lotus 1-2-3”.

Oh. My. This Is Interesting: Ogilvy Exec Goes to Google

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Think Different-1From Ad Age:

Andy Berndt, co-president of Ogilvy & Mather’s New York office, has left his post at the agency to go to Google, where he will helm a new global unit dedicated to collaborating with marketers, agencies and entertainment companies.

….There has been much speculation over the past year whether Google would try to get into the agency business. The new global unit isn’t being called an agency, but any unit offering creative consultation and account services could be considered one. Interestingly, Google had been trying to lure more creative talent to the company over the past year, according to ad industry executives familiar with the search giant.

Microsoft, meanwhile, recently bought its way into the agency business with its $6 billion purchase of aQuantive, parent company to agency Avenue A/Razorfish. When asked whether it would shed the agency after the purchase, Microsoft was adamant that it liked the business.

I’ll have more to say about this shortly…but the trend is clear. Google is setting itself up as a full service advertising company. And that means client services and creative innovation.

Thinking Out Loud: Rupert Murdoch and Chris DeWolfe

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MurdochChris Dewolfe

Continuing my series on folks I’ll be interviewing at Web 2 this year, next up is Rupert Murdoch and Chris DeWolfe, who will be our dinner guests on the first night. As previously noted (thanks for all your input), we start the day with Mark Zuckerberg, and it has a certain balance to end day one with Murdoch and DeWolfe, whose MySpace ruled the social networking roost uncontested until Facebook’s rapid acension. Regardless, the purchase of MySpace still ranks as one of the smartest moves ever made by an “old media” company.

Now, MySpace is still much bigger than Facebook, but as many are quick to point out, Facebook is growing much faster (more here). Clearly one topic of conversation will be how MySpace will respond to its new competitor – will it open up to the extent Facebook has, for example? It’s already well down the path of making money – in fact, it recently introduced a new self service ad platform based on six months of research into leveraging personal profile information.

This brings MySpace squarely into the same privacy conversation as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, and the rest of the ad-driven world. So we’ll clearly address that issue, and tons of other MySpace related questions – the future of the service, thoughts on being part of the Newscorp empire, those interesting contract conversations, its relationship with Google.

But with Murdoch in the room, there is a lot more to discuss.

As Time put it, Murdoch is one of the last true individual media tycoons, running an empire that stretches around the world with nearly every flavor of packaged goods media you might imagine, not to mention FIM, the arm that owns MySpace and various other interactive businesses like IGN and Scout. He’s also very controversial, eliciting alarmist articles like this one at a rate of at least one or two a day. In fact, if we were to compare Murdoch to anyone, it might be Bill Gates at the height of his power in the mid 1990s. At least, that’s a fair comparison in terms of Murdoch’s reputation in the mainstream media world – it compares to Gates’ reputation in the mainstream IT world ten years ago. I wonder how he feels about that? And how does Chris feel about working for him?

Then there’s the impending launch of the Fox Business News Channel. The battle for Dow Jones, the case for making its properties free, among other issues. Murdoch and DeWolfe’s view on the China problem/opportunity. The question of who might run the company when he is gone, and what he wants his legacy to be.

Murdoch is not without a sense of humor and a clear sense of what many think of him. Great quotes from the Time article: “When you’re a catalyst for change, you make enemies — and I’m proud of the ones I’ve got.” And this one, on changes he might make at the WSJ: “When the Journal gets its Page 3 girls,” (Murdoch) jokes late one night, “we’ll make sure they have M.B.A.s.”

I’d love to play the word association game with both of them – asking for a one word or one phrase response to a number of topics and/or companies – Google, Facebook, net neutrality, Microsoft, Comcast…

In fact, the more I think about this interview, the more I realize I need your help. We’ll have plenty of time to talk – dinner interviews are longer than the mainstage plenaries, but there are so many possible angles to take, your input will help me focus.

So what do you guys want to hear about from DeWolfe and Murdoch?

Google – Doubleclick – Are We Worried Yet?

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(emdot photo credit) The Google-Doubleclick merger is not yet complete. While it seems likely that the merger will go through, it’s not a layup – the FTC in late May took the process to “second request” phase. And not surprisingly, in response Google has been quite active lately with regards to the policy issues that frame the FTC’s decision (more on the process in my coverage here).

The most recent sign? A post on Google’s public policy blog, pointing to Google’s public comments on the FTC’s Town Hall meeting on the subject of online advertising, to be held in early November.

The big elephant in the room? Privacy. And, FOG. (Fear of Google). From Google’s post:

Of course, we continue to focus our attention on the privacy of our users, and privacy ought to be an important component of the Town Hall. We recognize that user, advertiser, and website publisher trust is critical to the success of our business, and we’ve taken a number of recent steps to help bolster our already strong privacy policies. We also think our acquisition of DoubleClick provides an opportunity for us to bolster privacy even further. (emphasis mine)

Well, this won’t help (from ars):

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has questioned the adequacy of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Privacy Framework, the same framework Google proposed last week that should serve as the basis for international privacy standards.

This on the heels of further EPIC and other group’s opposition, detailed here.

Past coverage of the story here.

You Remember IBM, Don't You?

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Ibm Logo-1

Smackdown time, Google. IBM is joining the free online office suite market place with Symphony (InfoWorld), a very old Lotus office suite that has been updated and integrated with the Sun-sponsored OpenOffice suite, which released a new version today. The press is playing this as a bid to compete with Microsoft, since IBM and Microsoft were once bitter rivals, but honestly, it’s more fun to consider an IBM/Google smackdown.

The New York Times Joins the Point To Economy

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One of my favorite pieces of Thinking Out Loud for the last book was “From Pull to Point“, in which I chided the Economist, the Journal, and others on their subscription online business models, which totally ignored the value of what I call the “Point To Economy”. I would have chided the New York Times Select as well, but it was free back then. Then the Op Ed columnists went behind a pay wall, and I had reservations, but said I’d subscribe and check it out. Turns out, I didn’t, and it seems not enough others did as well. Yesterday the pay wall came down, and not just for Op Ed, but for the entire archive as well.

This is a huge move to the hoop, and I think it’s the right one. I love the archives, and now they will be getting all the search juice they richly deserve. Here’s the reasoning, from a Times article covering the move:

What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.

Way to go, NYT!