free html hit counter February 2009 - John Battelle's Search Blog


By - February 28, 2009

One more piece falling into place in my five year old example of how search is changing via mobile. Snaptell. Found via the IPG Lab in LA earlier this week, though the company has been around for a few years. TC covers it back in November here.

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How Much Is A Super Bowl Ad Worth? How About 50% Increase In Traffic?

By - February 27, 2009

Recently I interviewed Jason Kilar, CEO of the very hot (and very unusual) video start up Hulu. (If you want more on what Hulu is, check out his introduction of it at our CM Summit last June). Hulu is funded by NBC and Fox, and Jason comes from Amazon, and he’s very clearly a product guy – and Hulu is a very good product.

In any case, when I was moderating the panel (it was at a private event), I asked Jason if the SuperBowl ad his company ran (it was part of a deal with NBC, paid for with credits) drove any significant traffic for Jason demured, which I surely understand. But now I got the skinny, from a very good source.

According to that source, traffic increased by about 50% to Hulu after the ad ran. (The ad is below).

That’s pretty darn good.

Hulu is growing like a weed. According to other sources, it’s up to nearly 30mm uniques now. More video plays than either Microsoft of Yahoo. Watch that space….

Google Joins Twitter, Crushes Yahoo's Numbers

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I noted earlier that Yahoo had joined Twitter, and thought out loud about a combination of those two. I’ve also thought out loud about Google, and this week the company also joined Twitter. It’s interesting to note the differences between the two.

First, Yahoo joined earlier, but has 5200 followers, compared to Google’s nearly 30K – all in the past two days. Second, the voice. Google’s first post was too clever by .5:

“I’m 01100110 01100101 01100101 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101100 01110101 01100011 01101011 01111001 00001010”

Sorry, I have no idea what that signifies, though I know it’s binary for something.


“Hello, world. We’re going to give this Twitter thing a whirl. (Hey, better late than never)”

Human, but a bit cute.

Yahoo joined mid Jun and is averaging about 300 new followers a day.

Google joined two days ago and is averaging about ten times that many a day.

Can that keep up?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If a team at Google and at Yahoo (and Microsoft AND Facebook, for that matter) are not scraping Twitter and figuring out how to build TweetSense, they most certainly should be.

Carol Speaks

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Carol Bartz seems like a pretty plain spoken woman, from what I can tell. I am looking forward to interviewing her at Web 2 this year, she’s one of the first folks to agree to come, and given my conversation with Jerry last year, I think it should prove to be quite a dialog.

I’m enjoying her blog posts on Yahoo Anecdotal. Check this one out, in which she talks about “cleaning house” and restructuring Yahoo (yet again, honestly, it’s like the tenth time in as many quarters, feels like):

Finally, a note about our brand. It’s one of our biggest assets. Mention Yahoo! practically anywhere in the world, and people yodel. But in the past few years, we haven’t been as clear in showing the world what the Yahoo! brand stands for. We’re going to change that. Look for this company’s brand to kick ass again.

I love the willingness to curse, and honestly, I hear it gets a lot saltier in person. Can’t wait.

My Jerry interview (close to his last as Yahoo CEO):

Ewwww. That's Slimey.

By - February 26, 2009

I just noticed, thanks to my crack net admin Ken, that (I’m not going to link to it and give it juice) is being parked, skinned, and used to make money. Yuck. Help – what do you all suggest I do about it? I must have forgotten to renew it, or perhaps I never bought it. Ick.

Lazy Webbing: Google Brand AdWord Roadblocks?

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I noticed something interesting while Googling around today: Certain brands, and they seem to fall into a class of brands that would understand the value of this – but certain brands seem to “own” all the AdWords associated with their trademarks. IE, there are no other buyers in the auction, it seems. Now, I’ve covered the trademark issues in the past, they are many of them, but did I miss the ability for brands to buy out any other bidders and “own” a result?

It’s the equivalent of what is called a “roadblock” in the online ad biz – also known as “100% Share of Voice.”

I can’t upload images right now but will get one up once I fix that… are the searches I’ve found this on:




BTW, this is NOT true for search on Yahoo…, Apple on Yahoo.

Google Is Commercializing Google News. Sh*tstorm to Follow?

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Trust me on this one, this one will kick up some dust. Am on an airplane, will write more soon.

Here’s the Google post announcing the move….nothing at all mentioned about sharing revenues with the news orgs who provide Google News its content. I cannot believe that this issue was not proactively dealt with. It must have been. Right? Readers in the news industry, speak up – any insight?

My prior coverage of this is here and here among many other places.

CM Summit New York, Your Input and Reg Is Open

By - February 25, 2009

Registration for this year’s Conversational Marketing Summit, thrice sold out, is now open. Register here!

Our theme this year is “What Works: The Case Studies.” As we write on the site:

Two years ago, the first Conversational Marketing Summit made the case for a new kind of engagement with audiences. Now we have real cases to study. Join us for a chance to look back at what the creative pioneers have learned and turn that experience into great ideas for the next stage of Conversational Marketing.

Presenters this year are listed here and we already have a great early lineup, but I am now soliciting ideas, and want yours. There are so many great examples of smart digital marketing to talk about. What are your favorites?

For a quick look at some of our past speakers and insights, here’s a video our conference director put together:

Twitter = YouTube.

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What? Is Battelle crazy? Hear me out. Think back when YouTube was growing like a weed, and Google snapped it up. Most folks (including me) saw this as Google “getting into the video business,” and sure, that in fact was one part of the equation. But as we all know, making money from consumer driven video ain’t a cakewalk, and hosting that video is really, really expensive. So why did Google really buy YouTube? My answer, which of course looks brilliant given it’s 20/20 hindsight: YouTube was a massive search asset.

Afterall, YouTube now gets more searches than Yahoo, Google’s closest search rival.

So think about that. YouTube was the single fastest growing new form of search on the Web, and Google pretty much outflanked (and outspent) everyone to buy it. Not to get into video monetization, per se, but to harvest and control the most important emerging form of search. In short, Google could not afford to NOT own YouTube.

So, fast forward to today. What’s the most important and quickly growing form of search on the web today? Real time, conversational search. And who’s the YouTube of real time search? Yep. Twitter. It’s an asset Google cannot afford to not own, and also, one they most likely do not have the ability (or brand permission) to build on their own. (Remember, Google tried to build its own YouTube – Google Video – and it failed to get traction. A service like Twitter is community driven, and Google has never been really great at that part of the media business).

That means Google most likely really, really wants to buy Twitter. (So does Facebook, but we’ll get to that in a second). The great twist: Evan and Biz, two of the key co founders of Twitter, have already sold a company to Google (Blogger) and most likely are not keen to do it again. Nor do they have to, given their recent funding and the money they made from pre-IPO Google options.

Add in the fact that Twitter has already said no to a $500mm offer from Facebook, and the fact that Facebook has responded quickly with by opening up its Live Feed status API, and we’ve got a very interesting year ahead of us in the Internet biz. I’ll be watching closely.

(PS – Much speculation lately that Twitter is a threat to Google, see this Merc piece. I’ll respond more to that idea later).

Update: Plenty of folks letting me know of pieces that are related, will post them as the come in. So far:
from Mike

and from James

IAB Conference Report

By - February 23, 2009

Last year at this time I posted on the IAB conference, the first of its kind (I am on the IAB Board). It’s interesting to see what has happened in a year. First off, the conference moved from Scottsdale to Orlando, which I must admit is not my favorite city but does handle conferences well. Second, despite the very deep recession, the conference was sold out, and folks actually came, about 500 or so. The crowd is good, and while it’s not a party, it has the feeling of comrades in arms, which honestly we could all use more of these days.

And third, the content, for the most part, is pretty darn good. (Even, I hope, my panel on social media, which I really enjoyed and learned a lot while running).

Last year, the talk of the conference was the Yahoo/Microsoft deal, and whether Jerry Yang, who was slated to speak, would cancel due to it. He showed, with his then-president Sue Decker, but they gave a presentation on Yahoo’s publishing strategy that was muddy and left many scratching their heads (including me: Yahoo Is Opening Up, But What’s The Big Vision?).

This year Microsoft’s Scott Howe took the stage and presented his vision of how Microsoft will work with publishers, and the early results are that he was pretty convincing, though he’ll have to prove his plan with some real actions. (BTW, Howe, who is also speaking at our CM Summit in June, is becoming a dead ringer for a younger Steve Ballmer in many ways). Today Microsoft announced a new partnership with major web publishers, the very kind that it seems Yahoo was trying to bring on last year. In short, Microsoft plans to work with major publishers to build a next generation ad platform. Hmm, sounds familiar. Exactly what Sue Decker promised us last year.

But the best part of the presentation came in an anecdote. Howe was imploring the audience of mostly publishers to “not let others take the value” that those publishers created with their premium content. I happened to be standing next to David Rosenblatt, President of Display at Google. “Who do you think he’s talking about?” I asked him jokingly. David shrugged and grinned, but was clearly not happy with the role of Bad Guy. Not to worry, David, we know you’re one of the good ones….and David gets to take his revenge when he takes the stage tomorrow. Alas, I will not be there to see it, as I have to get back to SF for meetings, but I’ll be following the action on Twitter, hashtag #iabnet.