free html hit counter Of Note in Search Biz Archives - Page 9 of 181 - John Battelle's Search Blog

I Love It When…

By - November 18, 2009

You imagine something out loud in a book, and then it starts to happen….

I am sure many of you have heard of RedLaser, but I hadn’t until today. I love it!

Here’s the text from my blog post, written in 2004 (pre iPhone, so I used a Treo…) which I rewrote into the book:

What to do? Not to worry, you’ve got Google Mobile Shop installed on your phone. You whip out your Treo 950, the one with the infrared UPC reader installed, and you wand it over that bottle of 2001 Clos Du Val now lovingly cradled in your arms. In less than a second a set of options is presented on the phone’s screen ….

Here’s the video on the app:

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A Step Toward Realizing the Data Bill of Rights Vision

By - November 05, 2009


Danny was kind enough to ping me about this story, which breaks the news about Google’s new “Dashboard,” which is, in essence, a first start toward realizing the “privacy dashboard” I asked for so long ago (and again here), back when I was posting ideas like a madman (I’m going to be doing that again shortly, so watch out…).

It’s a big deal I think, even if most of us never use it. And it’s very smart of Google to lead here. It really had no choice, when you think about it. And it’s kind of cool to see stuff I wrote about here over three years ago happen in the real world.

Twitter Lists

By - November 02, 2009

Screen shot 2009-11-02 at 7.16.01 PM.pngThere’s much to say about Twitter’s slow to roll out but much discussed Lists feature. I’m a fan of it, in short, for many reasons. Lists is a pretty simple idea – it lets anyone make and share a list of folks on Twitter. But it’s also a powerful new signal that will help Twitter solve two of its most vexing problems – first, that of discovery, and second, that of authority. Not to mention it gives everyone a chance to add value above the level of a single “follower”, more on that later.

In short, if done right, Lists will provide the Twitter ecosystem a third dimension that might just propel it beyond the hype curve and into a long term platform play. Combined (intelligently) with the new traffic coming from Google and Bing, and this could mean Very Big Things for  Twitter.

All this bears further discussion. And I promise to to that, soon. I just wanted to leave a note here that I think this is important, and hopefully, when I stop traveling and start thinking a bit more, I’ll dig in here.

Sept. Search Share Report

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Just got an email from an UBS analyst with an overview of search share data from Comscore for Sept. Summary:

Google increases Month/Month search share

Comscore’s September US search data suggests Google took some share lost over the last few months, which gives us confidence in our Q3 paid click growth ests. (12% Y/Y worldwide). Bing’s share of US search also increased, though share gains were lower than previous months as September is typically a relatively weaker month for travel, a vertical in which Microsoft has tried to differentiate itself.

Google and Microsoft took share at Yahoo!’s expense

Google’s share of US core searches in Sep was up 27 bps M/M to 64.9%, almost reaching levels prior to the launch of Bing. Bing had 9.4% of US search share (+18bps M/M) while AOL and Ask were roughly flat M/M at 3% and 3.9% respectively. Yahoo! lost 50bps M/M, resulting in 18.8% share of core US searches.

Google and Microsoft’s Y/Y query growth still strong in September

Bing’s Sep. Y/Y search volume growth was +31% Y/Y from 32% Y/Y in Aug, while Google’s search volume grew 21% Y/Y, roughly flat from 22% Y/Y growth in Aug. Yahoo!’s search volume grew 9% Y/Y from 17% Y/Y growth in Aug.

Search Does That. Social Does This. Give Me A Reese's Cup Please

By - October 05, 2009


If ever there was a strong meme in search, it’s the impact of social: Everyone is talking about how Facebook and Twitter are threatening Google for what I’ve called the “oxygen” of the web: distribution of attention.  

A little background. Google rose to prominence as the absolute winner in the Internet’s distribution game. The de facto interface for knowledge navigation, Google brought signal to the noise of Web 1.0: Sure, nearly everything worth publishing was now on the web, but how on earth could you find that ONE thing that mattered to your query, NOW?

A hundred billion plus dollar business ensued: we all now use Google to find that which we want to find on the web. In particular, Google is great at delivering authority on the web for those things that had already been published and ranked: In a way, Google has become the reference librarian of the web.

But…just searching a reference library is one thing. What about finding things people are talking about right now? And wouldn’t it be great if you could cross index that reference library with your social graph, so that people you trusted helped you go from query to decision?

Twitter and Facebook promise that next step in search. Let’s tease this out a bit.

We have different modes when we search. Sometimes we are looking for that perfect reference point – an article on how to train a dog, for example, or a how to guide on building a treehouse. But then we hit a critical inflection – we want to validate our reference material with a real live human connection. And Google can’t really do that. In short, we want to cross reference what we’ve learned with the experience of someone we trust.

Before the rise and ubiquity of social networks, the ability to do this was pretty serendipitous – sometimes in our reference search we found humans with whom we could connect and then learn (this happened to me in 1995 as I was searching online for my birth mother, but that’s another story).

But it’s happening more and more online now, thanks to our ability to use Twitter and Facebook to query our social graph. Through status updates or tweets, we can ask real people that which before we asked Google. And, by reading through the lifestreams of our network, we can discover that which we might never has asked, but nevertheless find interesting.

It’s late and I’m working way too many hours to do this line of thinking justice. But I will simply state it this way: Facebook and Twitter, you need to get better at mixing traditional web search with what you’ve already got. And Google/Microsoft, well, vicey versa. You need to get better at mixing social into your traditional web search.

Whoever does it best, wins.

Update: A new study on the interplay of search and social media can be found here.

Why Are Conversations (With the Right Person) So Much Better Than Search?

By - September 30, 2009

hal.jpegThanks to the BingTweets program, I’ve been asked to opine on search and decision engines. I’m kind of proud of my third and final post, which riffs on the first two and goes a bit, well, meta. I’d love to know what you guys think of it. I’ll repost the first half here, and link back to the whole post on the original site that commissioned the work.  

Over the past two posts I’ve outlined my hopes and frustrations around search and decision making, using my desire to acquire a classic car as an example of both the opportunity and the limitations of web search as it stands today. As an astute commentator noted on my last post – “normally a 30 minute conversation is a whole lot better for any kind of complex question.”

Which leads me to my last post in this series. What is it about a conversation? Why can we, in 30 minutes or less, boil down what otherwise might be a multi-day quest into an answer that addresses nearly all our concerns? And what might that process teach us about what the Web lacks today and might bring us tomorrow?

Well the answer is at once simple and maddenly complex. Our ability to communicate using language is the result of millions of years of physical and cultural evolution, capped off by 15-25 years of personal childhood and early adult experience. But it comes so naturally, we forget how extraordinary this simple act really is.

I once asked Larry Page, co-founder of Google, what his dream search engine looked like. His answer: The computer from Star Trek – a omnipresent, all knowing machine with which you could converse. We’re a long way from that – and when we do get there, we’re bound to arrive a with a fair amount of trepidation – after all, every major summer blockbuster seems to burst with the narrative of machines that out think humans (Matrix, Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, 2001, I Robot…you get the picture).

But I have hope. Given this is my last post in the series, allow me to wax a bit philosophical. While we in the search and Internet industry focus almost exclusively on leveraging technology to get to better answers, perhaps we might take another approach. Perhaps instead of scaling machines to the point of where they can have a “human” conversation with us (a la Turing), perhaps instead (or, as well), we might leverage machines to help connect us to just the right human with whom we might have that conversation?


Modest Share Gains for Bing Continue

By - September 21, 2009

Comscore’s monthly ratings are out and Bing continues a slow but steady gain in share, to the slight expense of Google and Yahoo. Bing has a massive marketing push on right now, but also, I think the service is starting to gain footholds with users who see it as a regular alternative to Google. I am also a fan of the recently unveiled visual search interface – I think it augurs some serious new – and useful – approaches to sifting through massive amounts of related data.

From the Thomas Weisel’s analyst coverage, sent to me in mail:

Google maintains dominance within “core search” but Bing Nudges Up m/m at Yahoo’s and Google’s Expense: Core search excludes searches conducted on video, local and map portions of the companies’ websites. Google’s U.S. query share of core search queries was down 11bps m/m to 64.6% in August but increased nearly 1.3 percentage points from August 2008. Yahoo’s share was flat m/m at 19.3% in August and decreased 39bps y/y. Microsoft’s share increased 35bps m/m to 9.3% in August and up 89bps y/y.’s share were was flat m/m at 3.9% in August but decreased 45bps y/y. AOL’s share decreased 14bps m/m to 3.0% in August and decreased 133bps y/y.

Our take: Google continues to dominate audience market rankings in the U.S. while Microsoft has shown some signs of stabilization and a modest uptick with the launch of Bing in June. Yahoo, while having shown signs of stability over the past 12-18 months, has recently started to lose market share again, declining from 21.0% in January to 19.3% in August. Taken together, Yahoo and Microsoft represent 29% of the core search market in the U.S., flat with the previous month. Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, was launched at the beginning of June alongside an $80-100mn advertising campaign. This is the third month of data reflecting Bing’s impact. While the data indicates a very modest near-term bounce, we will be watching closely to see if any query pickup is sustainable.

Watch Out Google, Facebook Is Gaining in PPC

By - September 18, 2009

facebook ads.png

Alex Salkever has written a post on Facebok’s self service CPC platform, which has been getting a lot of traction lately and is largely responsible for the company’s recent boasting about being cash flow positive. From it:

I chatted with nearly two dozen people who are buying ads on Facebook. Many of them are also purchasing ads on Google (GOOG) and other online venues. The overwhelming sentiment? Facebook ads are actually more effective and do a better job of getting them in front of their target audiences.

The piece is worth reading and really contemplating. How many of you use Facebook ads? Do they work better than AdWords?