free html hit counter June 2009 - Page 2 of 3 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Microsoft Goes After Click Fraudsters

By - June 15, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve seen click fraud in the news, but this Times story caught my eye, in particular because it was Microsoft. Google usually gets all the headlines around this issue, but it’s interesting to see Microsoft leading the charge in this arena. The story is worth reading, it sheds some light on the darker underpinnings of the search economy. From it:

Microsoft’s theory is that Mr. Lam was running or working for low-ranking sites that took potential client information for auto insurers. The complaint said that he directed traffic to competitors’ Web sites so they would pay for those clicks and exhaust their advertising budgets quickly, which let the lower-ranking sites that he sponsored move up in the paid-search results.

When people clicked through to his site, it asked them to supply contact information, which he then resold to auto insurance companies, according to Microsoft’s complaint, which estimated his profit at $250,000. In the complaint, it also said it had to credit back $1.5 million to advertisers because of the Lams’ alleged fake clicks. Microsoft is seeking $750,000 in damages from the defendants.

Although small advertisers have sued search firms, complaining the firms did not do enough to prevent fraudulent clicks, this is among the first cases where a search provider has gone after a suspected perpetrator.

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Facebook's Namespace Land Grab? Or Maybe…It's Just Useful

By - June 11, 2009

Much buzz over the past few days about Facebook’s plans to let folks (and, ahem, brands) claim their namespaces on Facebook. IE, Starting this weekend, I should be able to claim, just like I already “own” (sort of).

Anil Dash has a very funny send up of all this in a future forward timeline satire here. His point is – why is everyone falling all over themeselves to get their vanity URL on Facebook – or Twitter, or anywhere else for that matter – when the web is an open place and anyone can get their own URL, after all.

Well, yes and no. I’ve been complaining about Facebook’s terrible link structure for a long time. We all spend time there, and create and share value there, but up till this weekend, it’s been very difficult to point folks to places *inside* Facebook from places *outside* Facebook. The future of the web is ecosystemic – it’s not about being in one place – this blog, that Twitter feed, or that Facebook page, it’s about the ability to be anywhere, depending on the context and the moment. Sewing it all together is critical, and this move should make Facebook that much easier to incorporate into an ongoing, web wide conversation. I hope.

Everybody Dance

By - June 10, 2009

This video, of a lone guy starting a flash dance mob at a festival, is bouncing all over the web this week. I love it. Then I wondered, is this really spontaneous? It’s too perfect! But it’s really compelling either way. It plays on how we humans are wired. One guy alone dancing alone is weird. But when the tipping point happens, everyone wants to join. I wonder what happened when the music stopped.

Of course, I love that fact it’s one of my new favorite artists who is playing, Santigold’s Unstoppable.

Twitter Bumps Ceiling

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quantcast twitter june.pngIt had to happen, and it has. Twitter’s unbelievable growth numbers have flatlined, or even gone down, if you look at Quantcast (the site is not Quantified).  

This was predictable, given all the media hype and new folks, and the very real newbie problem I outlined in this post last month.

I predict Twitter will address this issue, and growth will resume, but at a more moderate and sustainable pace. But this is a very clear sign that Twitter, which made the cover of Time magazine last week, is on the other, less happy side of a traditional hype cycle.

As a reminder, here’s what I said in a post just a month ago, noting the incredible growth of Twitter:

I think this is both Twitter’s most important and dangerous phase of its young life. The retention problem must be addressed, and quickly. In my previous post about Twitter adding value to new users, I suggested Twitter incorporate some structure around its suggested users feature.

But with an inflection like this, I think it’s time to swallow hard and embrace some serious social media jujitsu. In short, Twitter should integrate Facebook Connect in its signup process, and offer it as a feature for current users.

English's Millionth Word: Web 2.0

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web2.pngFor the past few days I’ve been focused on a final draft of an essay, co-authored with Tim O’Reilly, focusing on the theme of this year’s Web 2.0 Summit. It’s rewarding work, reminiscent of the early days of Wired, when I’d regularly edit or write long form pieces focusing on big ideas and the future, but grounded in real world examples from today.  

But writing and editing this kind of stuff is also challenging work, and I often procrastinate, as I am right now, by writing a blog post or skimming the web for interesting tidbits. And boy, did I find a funny one today. According to CNN, the term “Web 2.0” is not only now an “official word” in the English language, it’s also the millionth one, of all things. (This according to the Global Language Monitor, a website that uses algorithms to determine when words enter the language.)

Too funny!

The theme for this year’s conference is “Web Squared,” a very real nod to the idea that “Web 2.0,” five years in, needs to be refreshed. From the draft Tim and I are working on:

The Web is evolving so quickly, it’s clear the “versioning” terminology that we borrowed from the software industry – Version 1.0, 2.0, etc. – no longer captures the pace and impact of the Web’s true nature. The web opportunity is no longer growing arithmetically, it’s growing exponentially. Hence our theme for this year: Web Squared.

We plan to post a draft of this paper soon, and will be asking for all your input in making it better. Meanwhile, it’s kind of cool that a term Tim and his partner Dale Dougherty coined way back in 2003 has made it into the history books. I wonder if and when “Web Squared” might make it in?! I guess we’ll know in five or so years…

But It's Not Google

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Seth has a funny interpretation of what “Bing” stands for: But It’s Not Google. This is a week old post, but I was just catching up on my reading. The rest of his post, however, strikes me as not quite right. In it he says:

The problem, as far as I can tell, is that it is trying to be the next Google. And the challenge for Microsoft is that there already is a next Google. It’s called Google.

I actually don’t think Microsoft is trying to out-Google Google with Bing. I think it’s trying to build a different kind of search application, one that sits on top of commodity search and helps people make decisions in a new way. Done right, this totally breaks the AdWords model that has driven search so far. To me, that is a very big step in a new direction, and one that Google cannot afford to make.

Blind Search Site – Bing, Yahoo, Or Google?

By - June 08, 2009

blind test.pngQuite the kerfuffle brewing over this site, built by a Microsoft employee, given folks the chance to blind taste test Bing, Google, and Yahoo. Bing was doing well early, but that might be due to the fact a lot of Microsoft folks took the test first. In any case, SAI has a good write up of the whole affair...  

My issue with this is that it’s just about ten blue links. Bing in fact is about an application, including a good UI, on top of the base of ten blue links.

The Original Industry Standard

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TIS protopage.jpgEleven years ago or so a small team of us created a prototype issue of what became the Industry Standard newsweekly magazine. Matt McAlister, an original team member, is posting images of the prototype on flickr. It’s not all there yet, but here’s a great start!