China, Premium Ads, Panama, and Miserable Failures (A Round Up)

I'm on the plane home, and I'm punchy. Davos affords you about three to five hours a sleep a night, what with the endless networking events, jet lag, and my general inability to sleep anyway. I may be telling you things you already know, but then again, they bear…

I’m on the plane home, and I’m punchy. Davos affords you about three to five hours a sleep a night, what with the endless networking events, jet lag, and my general inability to sleep anyway. I may be telling you things you already know, but then again, they bear repeating. This past week, Google and Yahoo did a few things I found interesting.

Chinese-Dragon-Green-17-Large-Tm-1First, while at Davos, Google’s senior management owned up to screwing up in China (I was at the event where this was discussed). I spoke to a very large customer of Google’s, who shall remain nameless, who knows the fellow who was tapped to run Google’s media business there. That fellow, Johnny Chou, lasted about a year and left in mid December. (Hey, Johnny, if you’d like to talk, you know where I live). Loyal readers will recall my recounting of Google’s tortured decision to enter the China market. Clearly this subject continues to haunt the company.


Second, Google made it possible for publishers to carve out “premium” advertising spots on their sites. Does this matter? Well, not much when it comes to CPC advertising, after all, with CPC it’s all about performance, and publishers will put ads wherever they perform best. But when it come to branding and CPM ads, placement is *everything.* Watch this space, literally. Google is priming its publisher network for a major push into branded, site specific sales. That’s where the big money is, the non direct-response money that is moving from TV and print.


Third, Yahoo announced earnings, which were not very interesting (they met estimates and then lowered expectations. Kinda like a blind date your Mom might have set you up on). But more interestingly, they announced Panama would be ready a full month early (though they emphasized that would have no effect on earnings whatsoever). Still and all, that’s a good sign. Yahoo is well and truly positioned to be the comeback kid this year. That’s not to say it will happen, but…

Miserable-FailureAnd lastly, Google released a new algo that helps kill Google Bombs. Sigh, no more miserable failure. Well, it’s not much fun to kick a fellow when he’s down anyway. From Google’s post on the subject:

The next natural question to ask is “Why doesn’t Google just edit these search results by hand?” To answer that, you need to know a little bit about how Google works. When we’re faced with a bad search result or a relevance problem, our first instinct is to look for an automatic way to solve the problem instead of trying to fix a particular search by hand.

Recall, of course, what Google has said previously (NYT) about Google Bombs: Craig Silverstein, Google’s director for technology, says the company sees nothing wrong with the public using its search engine this way. No user is hurt, he said, because there is no clearly legitimate site for “miserable failure” being pushed aside.

Moreover, he said, Google’s results were taking stock of the range of opinions that are expressed online. “We just reflect the opinion on the Web,” he said, “for better or worse.”

4 thoughts on “China, Premium Ads, Panama, and Miserable Failures (A Round Up)”

  1. Google may not automate everthing – they still do manually banning – according to the blog of their Spam chief.

    There have been several posts by SearchEnginesWeb over the past year, insisting that some SERPs automation be tried that would NEUTRALIZE certain black-hat SEO tactics.

    Their Algos bring to their attention, sites suspected of violating Webmaster guidelines – they then verify – and either WARN or Ban.

    They use to just instantly ban the entire domain – however – amazingly – SearchEnginesWeb convinced them to be less extreme & more humane.

    The new anti-GoogleBombing algos may hurt innocent sites, especially those that are new with new backlinks or comon baclink ancor text or backlinks with low PR and low TrustRank.

    This was more of a Public Relations initiative because of the major election and the political tactics that may grow.
    Perhaps, even Bush’s camp may have contacted Google.

    But, if in fact innocent are demoted and suffer, it will be unforgivable. It is getting increasingly harder for them to get any rankings on Google – sooner of later, it will be virtually impossible if these trends continue.


  2. Interesting . . . I heard other takes on the Yahoo report, not nearly as positive. Still, great summary and analysis — maybe you should travel more and sleep less more often . . .

  3. It seems much like the “anti-Googlebombing” initiative is trampling more than a bit on freedom of speach to me.

    Quite understandable that they don’t want their search engine leveraged to persecute or smear people, and to limit the ability of just a few folx to subvert their system to do so. Quite another thing entirely if you have a whole lot of unrelated users who want to link into a site/page using a particular term to express their opinions.

    If Google’s method is only reducing the ability for a small number of people to easily compromise keyword relevance, I think it’s okay. But, if this method would also limit the expression of an opinion shared by many people’s links, then I think it’s clearly gone too far and doesn’t make sense.

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