Will Yahoo Bing? Pay Attention to the Display Side

We've been talking about a search deal between Yahoo and Microsoft for so long (no, really, read this piece I wrote over two years ago) that it feels, to me anyway, like the deal's already been done. But it hasn't. Today new details are coming out, thanks to a…

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We’ve been talking about a search deal between Yahoo and Microsoft for so long (no, really, read this piece I wrote over two years ago) that it feels, to me anyway, like the deal’s already been done. But it hasn’t.

Today new details are coming out, thanks to a report in Ad Age (Ad Age? Breaking search news? I really must get back to reporting, eh?). While there’s nothing particularly new in the report – Yahoo will sell ads on its own site as well as Bing.com, Microsoft will focus on the technology, and both will split revenues – what is new is the claim that the deal will be announced “as soon as this week.”

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Twistory 101: It’s All About Small Business

The world's abuzz this week with word that Twitter is getting serious about business – the proof point being Twitter's new subdomain "business.twitter.com" and the "Twitter 101" handbook currently living there, a white paper of sorts aimed at helping companies figure out how to leverage the sometimes befuddling service. This…

biztweetbird.pngThe world’s abuzz this week with word that Twitter is getting serious about business – the proof point being Twitter’s new subdomain “business.twitter.com” and the “Twitter 101” handbook currently living there, a white paper of sorts aimed at helping companies figure out how to leverage the sometimes befuddling service.

This all reminds me of Fall 2004. Back then, Google was coming on hard in search. And while the world viewed Google as an upstart stealing query share from the incumbent Yahoo, the real drama was happening on the business side. By the Fall of 2004, Google’s AdWord and AdSense solutions were warranting serious attention from the same ecosystem of SEO/SEM that previously had focused on Overture’s offerings.

In this Fall, 2004 thread on Webmasterworld, where SEO types hang out to talk shop, search marketers debate the relative performance and profitability of Overture compared with Google. Prior to that year, Overture was the undisputed king of paid traffic. But in ’04, Google started pulling ahead, and since that time, it’s never looked back. Why?

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SIGIR This Week

I don't write that much about core geeky search stuff here lately, but I still get a bit excited when I am reminded that once again, ACM's SIGIR is happening. It's always fun to take a look at the agenda and see who is speaking and presenting papers. And taking…

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I don’t write that much about core geeky search stuff here lately, but I still get a bit excited when I am reminded that once again, ACM’s SIGIR is happening. It’s always fun to take a look at the agenda and see who is speaking and presenting papers. And taking a look at the papers tells us something about what’s up in search, who’s adding value to the academic search community, and on what topics.

Microsoft has a stamp on this show, with, according to Microsoft, nearly 30% of all papers presented at the event.

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Can 20 folks Make Bing? Nah.

Since vacation last week I've been on the road constantly, and unable to find much time to write. But this NYT Op Ed, by Robert Cringely, caught my eye, as it addresses something I've been watching closely for some time – the competition between Microsoft and Google. Clearly the two…

Since vacation last week I’ve been on the road constantly, and unable to find much time to write. But this NYT Op Ed, by Robert Cringely, caught my eye, as it addresses something I’ve been watching closely for some time – the competition between Microsoft and Google. Clearly the two giants are circling each other’s core revenue streams – Google announced a vapor competitor to Windows last week, and Bing is Microsoft’s answer to Google search. (Disclosure: Both companies have sponsored this site in the past, and Bing is sponsoring it now (see BingTweets), and both companies work with FM, my business). google-windows_1439540c.jpg (image credit)

So it makes sense that there’d be a fair amount of speculation on what it all means. But Cringely’s take, validated as it was in the pages of the Times, struck me as worthy of thinking through. In it he argues:

This is all heady stuff and good for lots of press, but in the end none of this is likely to make a real difference for either company or, indeed, for consumers. It’s just noise — a form of mutually assured destruction intended to keep each company in check.

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A Wish List for Facebook Search

It's taken a while, but I finally have time to rewrite the post I wrote this morning about Facebook search. For some reason my blog editor ate the post, something that has never happened to me and really threw me off. In any case, this morning I noticed a post…

It’s taken a while, but I finally have time to rewrite the post I wrote this morning about Facebook search. For some reason my blog editor ate the post, something that has never happened to me and really threw me off.

In any case, this morning I noticed a post on Mashable about Facebook’s new “superfresh” search plans – in essence, a plan to make the Facebook newsfeed searchable, and most impressively, to filter that through your social graph. In short, this is a Twitter search competitor with a Facebook twist, and while I think it’s a fine move, it’s nowhere near where Facebook needs to be in terms of search, and it seems a bit myopic: Facebook is way more than its newsfeed, and its search play is key to proving that value, and extending it.

First, a minor rant. Facebook search circa 2009 is akin to Alta Vista search circa 1994, or Ebay search circa 2004: very dumb and entirely lacking in structured, intelligently parsed data. In fact, it’s worse that those two examples. It’s clear that there are almost no intelligent signals in the way Facebook does its internal search, and I can’t imagine anyone is happy with it. A few examples:

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Hunch

I have not yet grokked Hunch, the decision engine from flickr co-founder Caterina Fake and co., but from the coverage, the launch is a hit. Here's Caterina's post announcing it……

hunch-logo.png I have not yet grokked Hunch, the decision engine from flickr co-founder Caterina Fake and co., but from the coverage, the launch is a hit. Here’s Caterina’s post announcing it…

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Microsoft Goes After Click Fraudsters

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…

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.

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

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 www.facebook.com/johnbattelle, just like I already "own" www.twitter.com/johnbattelle (sort of). Anil Dash has a very funny send up of all…

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 www.facebook.com/johnbattelle, just like I already “own” www.twitter.com/johnbattelle (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.

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DOJ Headaches for Google continue

Just for the record, noting this article from the NYT on Google's continued skirmishes with the DOJ, this time on the book settlement front….

Just for the record, noting this article from the NYT on Google’s continued skirmishes with the DOJ, this time on the book settlement front.

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Blind Search Site – Bing, Yahoo, Or Google?

Quite 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…

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.

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