free html hit counter June 2008 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Flash Is Searchable

By - June 30, 2008

This is a Big Deal. Now, I want to know: how will Flash files be ranked? Any ideas? Adobe is a major competitor to Microsoft in this front. How will Microsoft make Silverlight searchable? And will Google index all both equally? (My take: Oh yes it will. If it does not, that spells trouble in any congressional hearing…)

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Google's Affiliate Network: This Is A Product Launch? No, It Is Not.

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Google rebranded its Performics affiliate network, which it acquired as part of Doubleclick, as “Google Affiliate Network,” apparently sometime over the past few days.

I say “apparently” because I can’t find any actual Google press release on the subject. It was blogounced, apparenty: Announced on Performics’ blog, and possibly a few key blogs, like TC and a few others, were told about it, or possibly they just noticed that all of a sudden, Google had a page for the “Google Affiliate Network.” Look, I love blogs, but we’re not that good.

Interestingly, Danny at SEL has not weighed in. He’d be the first one I’d want to hear from if there was really news, given his deep understanding of the search-driven affiliate marketplace, which quite honestly is fascinating, but a saddled with the kind of kharmic weirdness often associated with the domain industry. (They are kissing cousins, in a way…)

Anyway, there’s probably no official Google release because, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing to talk about. This is a very quiet trial balloon. There’s not word one about anything that might actually change in the Performics blog post. Well, OK, there’s this:

Within the next couple of weeks you will see some exciting changes to the user interface reflecting the new brand.

To call this a new coat of paint would be to overstate the facts.

Now, were it to decide it wanted to, could Google change the affiliate marketplace in ways untold? Heck yes, it could. Is it? Nope. Not yet anyway.

Second Day Story on Ad Planner

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MediaWeek reports:

After taking several days to digest the news, the digital media world has reached the conclusion that the launch of Google’s new media planning product isn’t likely to bring upheaval to the Web metrics business. And it probably doesn’t represent the feared first step towards total advertising—and ultimately world—domination by the search giant either…..

“They need to add so many things, it’s not even a consideration at this point,” said David Smith, CEO, Mediasmith, who pointed out that Ad Planner lacks deep demographic data and a reach/frequency function. “It’s absolutely not ready for prime time.”

True for now, but don’t get comfy thinking that version 1 of this product is going to be the last version…knowing David, I bet he’s watching this pretty closely.

Update: Yep, David sure is paying attention, here’s his story on Ad Planner in today’s Mediapost.

Sergey Leaves Google (OK, not THAT Sergey…)

By - June 29, 2008

From Dare’s blog, a posit that folks are leaving Google for Microsoft, driven by his anecdotal observations and blog post from a guy named Sergey Solyanik:

So why did I leave?

There are many things about Google that are not great, and merit improvement. There are plenty of silly politics, underperformance, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness, and things that are plain stupid. I will not write about these things here because they are immaterial. I did not leave because of them. No company has achieved the status of the perfect workplace, and no one ever will.

I left because Microsoft turned out to be the right place for me.

First, I love multiple aspects of the software development process. I like engineering, but I love the business aspects no less. I can’t write code for the sake of the technology alone – I need to know that the code is useful for others, and the only way to measure the usefulness is by the amount of money that the people are willing to part with to have access to my work.

Sorry open source fanatics, your world is not for me!

Google software business is divided between producing the “eye candy” – web properties that are designed to amuse and attract people – and the infrastructure required to support them.


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If you have the time, and the will, read this from Adam at Fortune. It’s one Yahoo employee’s rant about the ongoing turmoil…and it’s really, really dark humor. Really, really dark.

As someone who has, in a minor key, been through really tough times as the head of an organization that is failing, I really empathize with the leaders at Yahoo. But I completely empathize with the employees, who, in a market that is, honestly, pretty shitty, can only hold on and try to laugh a little. From the note:

As for the Google deal, HOORRAY! Now, you might be thinking that we employees – particularly those in Search – who have spent most of our waking hours trying to do battle with Google might in some way be disappointed that we are now getting into bed with the enemy. Au contraire! We love it! Nothing indicates a job well done better than outsourcing your own job to the competition. Am I right, or am I right?

Adsense as Distribution Vehicle

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Google knows it has distribution. Distribution is the key to the old school method of media success. Think cable: We have a monopoly on getting programming into homes, so you have to go through us! Therefore, we make shitloads of money. Want more examples? OK: Newspapers. And magazines. And movies. And…well, just about every packaged goods media model on earth.

Well, on the web, distribution is a sort of different deal. Some will argue it’s key, others will say search has obviated the economics of distribution.

I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. Sure, if you have great content, search and the force of many will find it, and eventually you will end up with a Boing Boing, or an Ask a Ninja, or a Dooce or a Mashable.

But if you are from Old Hollywood, you don’t want to wait for the force of many to find and validate you. Instead, you want to push your product, which you presume, because you are a beknighted Force of Hollywood, that the masses will want to see. (Gee, Mike Myers, how’s that working out for you?)

So what to do?

Well, you could pay someone for distribution – Yahoo, Myspace, and AOL come to mind. Or…you could strike a deal with Google, and distribute your show through the Adsense network, which has wicked huge reach.

Yep, you read that right. I’ve written about this before, but the deal written up in the NYT today is probably the most high profile example yet. From the piece:

Google is experimenting with a new method of distributing original material on the Web, and some Hollywood film financiers are betting millions that the company will succeed.

In September, Seth MacFarlane, creator of “Family Guy” on television, will unveil a carefully guarded new project called “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy.” Unlike “Family Guy,” which is broadcast on Fox, this animation series will appear exclusively on the Internet.

The innovative part involves the distribution plan. Google will syndicate the program using its AdSense advertising system to thousands of Web sites that are predetermined to be gathering spots for Mr. MacFarlane’s target audience, typically young men. Instead of placing a static ad on a Web page, Google will place a “Cavalcade” video clip.

My prediction, and I could be entirely wrong here: This will fail utterly. Why do I predict this? Two reasons. One, context is everything. Until Google acts like a publisher, and works with sites specifically to place advertising that is relevant to them and integrated, Adsense is an afterthought to those sites. And second, the web is not organized top down. It’s organized bottoms up. Distribution is not something you use to push shit AT people, it’s something that happens when people organize TOWARD something. That’s the whole point of the web, ain’t it?

Now, the new “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy” show could work no matter what, if it’s good. If it’s good, folks will want it, and they’ll click on the Google ads, as well as find it through the collective hivemind that is always created in real time around good stuff. Folks will claim the Google experiment was a hit, and start to mimic it.

But it’s NEVER about distribution on the Web. It’s ALWAYS about quality. The next time Google tries this, if they are not working with a hit, it will fail.

"Take 48": Friday 6 PM to Sunday, 6 PM

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Mt Tamalpais Lg-2

(A trail on Mt. Tam)

(Cross posted from the FM blog)

In the past few years, the weekend has taken on a new meaning for me. In short, it’s now defined by work. The weekend is when I catch up on work I can’t get done during the week, in particular work that requires long form thinking, the kind of thinking that powers drafting considered memos and strategy documents, even posting to this or other blogs.

It’s also a time to clear emails and burnish out the odd To Do item that never quite Got Done during the week.

So lately I’ve been working about three to five hours a day on Saturday, and even more on Sunday, where I work a couple hours in the early morning, and then a shift of four hours or more at night. I check my mail constantly, either while at my desk or on my Blackberry while with my family.

In an odd and most likely not very healthy way, the weekends have become two more workdays, albeit workdays that have a slower pace and breaks here and there for French Toast making, family hikes, and date nights with my wife.

And guess what? It’s not working out very well. Turns out that constantly having your mind in work mode can ruin a good session of French toasting. And getting an email bearing potentially bad news while on a date with your wife can really mess with your ability to be the gentleman she deserves you to be.

So I’ve decided to do something about it. I don’t know if it’s going to work, but it is off to a good start. Working with my senior team, we’ve created a weekend program we call “Take 48.” The rules are simple, really. The three senior leaders of the company – the CEO, the COO, and the Publisher/CRO – have agreed to not send a single email to any member of the FM team from 6 PM on Friday to 6 PM Sunday. It’s hard for us to do – we’re used to managing by email, and particularly used to getting “caught up” in the weekend down time.

But there’s nothing in the rules saying we can’t DO email over the weekend, just that we can’t SEND it during the weekend. If the servers blow up in Chicago, well, someone can pick up the phone, after all.

We tried it out last weekend, and by golly, it really worked. Emails from senior staff usually creates orders of magnitudes more email from other staff members, and it folds into itself. But last weekend, it felt as if FM, as an institution, was taking time to breathe, to contemplate, to relax and feed itself. Maybe even take a nice hike on Mt. Tam.

Here’s to more of that, not only at FM, but in every organization running hard at a Very Big Goal.

I’m not saying that we need to stop working, even if it means working on the weekend. But perhaps weekends should be sacred when it comes to intruding in the lives of others. Do your work, if you must, but when it comes to asking others to do your work with you, Take 48.

It's Over. Google Wins.

By - June 26, 2008

Increasingly, when I talk to folks in the industry, and they ask me my view on search, I say the above. In search, it’s over, Google wins. WIth Yahoo flailing, and Microsoft hiding in the weeds, search is slouching toward a natural monopoly. We may as well call it. Sure, there are really interesting startups. But….nothing that interesting.

So now what? Well, the situation is ripe for disruption, ain’t it? It was during a terrible recession that Google made its name (2001-3). What might be next?