free html hit counter March 2009 - Page 4 of 5 - John Battelle's Search Blog


By - March 05, 2009

I am going to be offline for the next few days, heading to hear the crack of the bat in Spring training with my son. Bliss. But a couple of very notable things:

– Yahoo is playing ball again. Read RWW’s summary of Yahoo’s FB Connect competitor. So good to see the company back in the game.

Googlers leaving to start social sites. Readers of this site will not find this in any way surprising. Read this quote: In her opinion, the reason former Googlers focus on community-oriented is because they, “know that it is very difficult to take on Google on a pure technology play,” and, “when it comes to community based sites, Google doesn’t do all that well. Google’s infrastructure, most of it built in-house, makes it really difficult to iterate rapidly. Google Video, a product that I worked on comes to mind. Part of the reason Google Video failed miserably against You Tube was that the team couldn’t iterate rapidly and build some of the community and upload features as rapidly as they wanted.

Welcome to Being a Big Company, Google. A Big Company that is Not That Good At that Community (ie Human ie Media) thing…..

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Get Horizontal

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As I think through the major themes of the book I hope to write over the next year, the word “horizontal” keeps coming up, over and over and over.

It comes up in nearly every conversation I have with marketers. More often than not, when you get to the heart of an innovative marketing program, you find a block that can be summed up thusly: “That’s not what we do.”

In other words, “We’re the marketing group. That’s a great idea, John, but it requires we work with the (customer service, IT, business development, human relations, public affairs, product development, legal) department. And while we’d love to do that, well, we’ve (have never done that, have tried it before and it didn’t work, don’t like those guys, been told not to do it, don’t have budgets that cross departments, etc. etc. etc.).”

But marketing is, in its essence, a horizontal practice. (I wrote more about this on the American Express Open Forum site.) Every customer interaction is marketing. Every partnership is marketing. Every employee is a marketer.

And all your data, well, that’s marketing too.

Case in point: Mashery. I had a good conversation today with Mashery’s CEO Oren Michels. Mashery has a smart (and very Web 2) model: It provides API infrastructure for enterprises looking to turn their businesses into platforms. In other words, business who are smart enough to realize they need to join the conversation economy.

But joining the conversation economy means more than skinning your corporate website with Twitter search results (though I commend Skittles for doing it). It means taking your core assets – the data that drives value and knowledge inside your enterprise – and offering it as fuel for the collective intelligence of all your partners – your channel, your vendors, and, ultimately, your customers.

What does that look like? Well, Mashery has plenty of examples, including the New York Times and Best Buy. It’s late and I wish I could write a lot more, but let me sum it up this way: Companies that create platforms which enable customers to leverage internal data with collective intelligence will win. Those that don’t, will lose.

Oren had a very telling insight, one that plays to the issue of “horizontal versus vertical.” Most enterprises see his services as “IT”, and push him to “talk to the CTO.” But most CTOs don’t care about creating new channels of distribution, new business rules, and opening new markets. They see their job as servicing that which already exists. That’s a recipe for epic fail.

Mashery is not an IT play, it’s a business development play. Smart companies understand that.

More on this soon.

Facebook Shows "What's On Its Mind" – Twitter

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An AP story today about changes coming to the Facebook service is quite interesting:

Facebook: Taking a cue from Twitter in sharing?

The popular online hangout Facebook is revamping its home page and plans other changes so its millions of users can more easily choose the types of information they see.

Perhaps taking a cue from Twitter, the rising service for letting people express themselves in 140 characters or less and keep up with what celebrities have to say, Facebook said Wednesday it will let users follow public figures like President Barack Obama and swimmer Michael Phelps, bands like U2 and even institutions like The New York Times….

….Beginning next Wednesday, Facebook will also launch a redesigned home page that lets users receive continuous updates from their friends instead of every 10 or 15 minutes….

…Facebook will also tweak its central feature, the status update, which now invites people to broadcast to their friends a response to “What are you doing right now?”….Facebook’s new question, “What’s on your mind?,” may encourage people to dig deeper into their subconscious and post more entertaining updates

Fish Eat Fish Postcard-P239123928381248314Qibm 400

OK. So here’s how it seems to be shaping up.

Microsoft, still the biggest company in the space, is obsessed with Google. Google is obsessed with Facebook. Facebook is obsessed with Twitter.

So what is Twitter obsessed with?!

At this point, my guess is – Twitter. Or rather, just building the company, hiring the right folks, keeping the service up, and fighting back all the inbound requests for a piece of their mojo. Twitter is tiny compared to Facebook, which is tiny compared to Google, which is small compared to Microsoft. Oh, if only I had some Illustrator skills, I’d make me quite a graphic…

(Update, this image sort of does it for me, if you like it, buy the postcard on Zazzle.)

For This Vanity Search, Google is Way More Real Time

By - March 04, 2009

Who doesn’t do a vanity search once in a while? My fixation on real time search has only heightened my otherwise occasional check into the funhouse mirror of search. What I found tonight:


Google March 09

The results are pretty up to date. The second result is my “hottest” post in recent days. Only one ad, however. (Update: Today the hottest post is my 2009 predictions. Innaresting.)


Yahoo March 09

Note the other suggested searches. Also, second result is a far longer fuse on “hot post” – my predictions from a year ago. Lots of ads!


Live March 09

Love all those images! Also doing the suggested searches. Especially love the image at the far right. But alas…no ads. Sigh. Pretty consistent with revenues, I must say. Oh, and the idea of “xRank” is new to me (I am sure I missed it earlier), it’s a ranking of “notable people”. It’s moved from 103 to 56 this morning. Hmmm.

Conclusion: For this blogger, it’s clear Google is paying attention to getting as close as is realistic to real time search.

But mark my words: The real target in real time search, for Google anyway, is Facebook. That is an opening for Twitter.

Seen In the Wild

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I was reading a piece on Venturebeat, on Kutano. And this ad was at the bottom.

Google Ad

This is an ad?

Yep. Innaresting. Four years ago (God, yes, I’ve been writing for more than that, er, ummm….22 years, in fact…) anyway, I wrote this about Google and the need to market its products:

As I think about Picasa, Google Desktop, Print, Keyhole, Blogger, and Google Groups come to mind, as does Google’s long held aversion to consumer marketing. And I’ve come to the conclusion that Google can no longer afford to avoid consumer marketing. In order for these services to really scale, to get to where they need to go, Google will have to start promoting them. It’s unavoidable – even if you do have the best product in the world, you need to tell people about it before they get locked into other options…

Of course, in Google’s case, it’s nice to have so much cheap inventory to work with. Oh snap, did I say that about AdSense? I guess it must be late….

Poll: Google and Microblogging

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A few days ago I posted about Google and microblogging, and wished I had a poll widget. Now I do. So here goes:

<a href="">Will Google Create a Twitter/Facebook LiveFeed Competitor?</a> | <a href="">BuzzDash polls</a>

The World Is Tuning Into Twitter Search

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The tweet is the query. From Ad Age, which penned a good piece on the promise of Twitter search:

In the future, searches won’t only query what’s being said at the moment, but will go out to the Twitter audience in the form of a question, like a faster and less-filtered Yahoo Answers or Wiki Answers. Users would be able to tap the collective knowledge of the 6 million or so members of the Twitterverse.

“You put a question out to the global mind, and it comes back,” Mr. Chaffee explained. “Millions of people are contributing to the knowledge base. The engine is alive. You get feedback in real time from people, not just documents.”

The Money Quotes

By - March 03, 2009


I’ve been in journalism a long, long time. Twenty four years, to be exact. I have a pretty clear sense of how the game works, how it’s changing, and how it’s played. So when I read the (very) recent dustup around Eric Schmidt’s quote regarding Twitter, well, I decided to take a step back and think about it a spell. Especially given my own experience on both sides of the ledger (but more on that later).

Some background: Eric was quoted widely today saying that Twitter, a service I and many others have speculated might be a fit for Google, was “a poor man’s email.”

That’s pretty incendiary, and it fits a sometimes eagerly applied characterization of Eric, who has at times be criticized as dismissive (I reported as much in The Search back in 2005). But the more I think about it, the more I think Eric was actually speaking “as a computer scientist”, which, in fact, is the preface he used before issuing the aforementioned poor man’s quote.

It seems that Eric has not studied Twitter deeply, or, quite possibly, he has, and this statement was the equivalent of a studious head fake. Either way, I’m not going to jump on the band wagon and declare this incident proof of Google’s arrogance. Eric went on to praise Twitter for its growth and community, and then take the view that Twitter is an interesting development worthy of notice.

Sounds like the right point of view for Google to have at this juncture. Keep paying attention…and pounce in one way or another when the time is right.

Somewhat related (insofar as quotes can be read in many different ways), I was quoted in a story about Google’s Marissa Mayer in the New York Times this past Sunday. My quotes, which are spare, come late in the story, but they don’t lack punch:

“She clearly has what it takes to be a great manager at Google, but I don’t know if that translates into being a great manager at Hasbro.”


“You get comfortable being wealthy, getting attention, living in the bubble,” Mr. Battelle said. “It will be interesting to watch at which point they declare ‘who am I?’ by their definition, not Google’s.”

Well, through a couple backchannels, I’ve been told those quotes are not sitting well over at Google. And I can understand why. After all, I spoke to the reporter, who I like, for nearly 45 minutes, and the conversation was boiled down to those two quotes, neither of which are particularly gushy.

That said, I think each has a point, albeit not elaborated upon in the piece. On the Hasbro quote, well, it’s pretty self explanatory. I’m not sure Marissa would ever want to manage a team at Hasbro, a point that probably did not translate – tone of voice is usually not reflected within quotations. I picked Hasbro because Meg Whitman worked there, but my point was more broad: Marissa (and many others) have worked at just one place their entire career, a place that, to be blunt, is very unlike nearly any other company on earth.

Which leads me to the second quote, in which I was talking about a class of folks at Google, and not Marissa in particular. (I was in the back of a car driving to an appointment when the reporter called, and I’m not sure exactly when I said this). My point was not that executives who have been at Google a long time are out of touch (they certainly are wealthy), but rather, that at some point they will look up from their work and ask the question: Who am I outside of Google? I’ve watched this happen with a number of executives who were early leaders at Google, and I think it will happen with Marissa, if it’s not already happening.

When you work inside a bubble, and working at Google is certainly that, an essential skill becomes being able to see outside of your own work. I worked at two fast-growing companies that lived inside bubbles, and I lost that vision – briefly – twice in my career – first at Wired, and second at the Industry Standard. When I realized I was living in something of a reality distortion field, I quickly moved outside of it, and on to the next thing. Perhaps that’s not the case with Marissa, and perhaps I’m wrong about the same kinds of forces being at play at Google as have been at play at companies like Wired, Netscape, AOL, Microsoft, or even today’s darlings like Twitter or Zappos.

But for the record, I don’t think so.