June 30, 2006

No more MSN Searches for Yahoo

Soon, Yahoo Search Marketing’s contract with MSN will be up (by month’s end).

MSN’s U.S. search distribution agreement with Yahoo! Search Marketing ends this month, and Yahoo! Sponsored Search listings will no longer appear in MSN’s U.S. search results. Although we regret the loss of MSN as a distribution partner, it was not unexpected, and we do not anticipate a significant change in the total amount of traffic to our advertisers as a result.

We expect that MSN will continue to display Yahoo! Search Marketing Content Match listings in the U.S., and Sponsored Search listings in non-U.S. markets, beyond June 2006.

That means US search results will most likely use MSN Adcenter ads since. Content match may soon follow (my guess is that it is easy to figure out context on a search result…just use the terms typed in and match them against the terms advertisers paid for). Extracting a short and the most relevant context of a web page may require more time and collaboration with their search engine.

We’ll soon find out just how big the impact is by checking with the Overture/YSM Keyword Selector Tool which shows you how many searches for a key term happened.

We are moving in the direction of fragmentation by having multiple advertising channels, not to mention multiple advertising models such as pay-per-click, cost-per-acquisition, cost-per-call, cost-per-view or click after video (i.e. those Google video ads or Revver).

This fragmentation should lead to:

  • More specialties within marketing/advertising.
  • More services offering a singular solution that will manage campaigns with all large channels (i.e. SEM companies)–but more of the new ones should have better technical solutions than the abundance of manual ones we see now
  • More work for SEOs and SEMs to have to research the number of searches for keywords
  • More options for publishers and advertisers which may mean higher payouts to publishers (either through higher CPC or lower CPC with higher volumes of transactions) will either squeeze margins for these channels, some of which will be passed along to the advertisers…but of course the market will help define this on its own
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June 29, 2006

Google Checkout Launches

Google has finally released Google Checkout, formerly referred to as GBuy.

Most people are comparing it to Ebay’s Paypal but it is also sounding familiar to Yahoo Shopping in that customers have a way to provide product information (Froogle and the new Google Store) and consumers have a secure way to purchase these products with an account that stores and keeps track of your purchases and credit card information. This 1) makes it far too easy/convenient for you to make purchases (and will encourage users to purchase more), 2) allows Google to make some money off of the transaction, and 3) allows Google to do more things, including with local since obtaining credit card information means a billing & shipping address and would be one of the best ways to validate someone’s location.

Additionally, for those that use Adwords, they can use Google Checkout and will get a little icon next to them to signify they accept this form of payment. For the merchant, it may mean a higher clickthrough rate…even if the consumer does not use Google Checkout, just having that image their may draw the users’ eyes to their ad. Additionally, merchants will like the lower fees with Google Checkout (over paypal). Consumers may also not be quite as concerned with unfamiliar merchants and providing them with credit card information since the only person accessing this info would be Google…this may mean better conversion for those lesser-known merchants. For the consumers, it provides a quick and easy way to shop. For Google, it provides them with a potentially large revenue source as well additional data for them to organize (including conversion rates and user purchasing habits).

Merchants interested in this can find out more here, including amounts of transactions that are free per adwords spend.

Consumers can find out more about Google’s perspective on their blog.

Developers interested in this should checkout their API.

More info here and here.

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June 23, 2006

Flickr versus the Competition

I was talking to some friends about online photos the other day, which they use, and the whole Flickr versus Zoomr story.

Most all of them use Flickr…so I found it interesting when Leeann of Hitwise published some stats which showed Flickr is 6th in market share at slightly under 6%. Photobucket is the undisputed leader of the pack at a little under 44%.

I decided to take a look at what Alexa thinks…a graph at Alexaholic tells a different tale:
comparing photo sharing site traffic and market share

Alexa shows that Photobucket was slightly higher the beginning o the year but the last few months Flickr has been holding a slight lead over it.

Just goes to show you that everyone aggregates data in different ways and gauging the traffic someone gets (or their market share) as an outsider (read: no access to logs) is a daunting task. The best you can do is understand the ways these different providers aggregate their data in order to understand shortcomings or potential inaccuracies (or even potential for someone to game the system as this is easily done with Alexa).

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June 22, 2006

Yahoo Local adds Microformats Support

Yahoo Local is now supporting microformats. Basically, a way to make markup human-readable/understandable…but the point people are missing is that they are structuring unstructured data and make it more machine readable as well.

Yahoo points to a number of uses but fails to tell us how or i they will use this data. Surely getting additional local and event data in a structured format they can tie into their existing listings would be useful, add value to the consumer, develop more of a community as consumer contribute, and builds this user-generated content cheaply.

These microformats can be used to bolster reviews and ratings, local events tied to venues, and can provide up to date and accurate business contact information (one of the big problems many local search sites have).

more info here.

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June 19, 2006

W3C Selling Pagerank 9 Backlinks for $1000

I was trolling around a message board that made mention of the W3C’s supporters page where they link to “supporters” (defined as having contributed money to them). If you contribute a minimum of $1000, you get a live link to your site. In addition to getting the link on the pagerank 9 page, you will also get a link on a page that provides more supporter details which is a pagerank 7.

A few notes:

  • The fees are annual
  • They are also accepting donations like software and hardware. They will be putting up a wishlist
  • It is a great deal for 2 links, pagerank 7 and 9
  • The value of the link will be diminished the more links go up on that page (pagerank is calculated by giving weight to outgoing links based on the number of outgoing links from the originating page).
  • With this information showing up all over the place (like here), Google is bound to find out about it and, when they’ve found sites that are selling links, have discounted those links
  • It is an interesting way for the W3C to make money. I wonder if they intended this to happen or if this is just a side-effect of what they were trying to do. In any case, they provide good services and information and I hope it doesn’t harm them
  • PR has been given less weight by Google but still carries some weight

In short, give for the right reasons…not to try to extract search engine (or more specifically, Google) benefit.

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June 6, 2006

Google Spreadsheets to Launch Shortly

Google will soon launch an online spreadsheet application, probably integrating features learned from/developed by Writely whom they acquired earlier.

The WSJ has an article and there people are saying they will compete with Microsoft Office, Star Office, and Open Office.

Some people think they’re trying to rattle Microsoft.

Take the tour or sign up to be invited to try it.

more info at the NYT

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June 3, 2006

Google Products being smushed into Google Base

I had this theory I shared with someone that Google was going to take the products people were submitting into Google Base and the Froogle submissions from merchants and put them into one product…a classifieds and price comparison product where you can search across new and used products from multiple different source types.

Well, Google is sending out email notifications to Froogle Merchants:

Dear Froogle Merchant,

We’re pleased to announce Google Base (http://base.google.com), a new resource that offers you the tools you need to submit your Froogle bulk upload files (formerly known as feeds) and keep them updated. With Google Base, you can:

* Create and send bulk upload files
* Add and define custom attributes specific to your offers
* Confirm the status of a bulk upload without having to contact the Froogle support team
* Edit and check the status of each item in your bulk upload

To get started, simply sign in to Google Base with your Froogle Merchant account login and password:

Your existing account and product information has already been transferred and is now viewable in Google Base. Along with Froogle, your content should also be viewable on http://base.google.com; you can search there to verify that your items appear online shortly after you post them.

Please note that Google Base has replaced the Froogle Merchant Center. From now on, when you click “Information for Sellers” on the Froogle home page, you’ll be brought to a new sign-in page. You can learn more information about this change here.

We hope you enjoy Google Base. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact us at feeds-support@google.com.

Sincerely,
The Google Team

In addition to potentially seeing a new, integrated product (especially one that could integrate “local shopping”), having merchants place their products into Google Base may mean seeing more verticals, namely product based results, integrated into the main search results page.

2006/June/05 UPDATE: More info this morning here and here

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Ebay Blogs and Wikis

EBay blogs and wikis, with searchable tags

It’s a nice way to get more interaction between users…but how do they plan on regulating attacks by unhappy buyers? :-)

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June 1, 2006

Ask’s Blog/Feed Search

Ask, formerly Ask Jeeves and the company that acquired BlogLines, have finally launched blogs/feeds search.

What better way to establish relevance by identifying the number of subscribers attached to a feed/blog…that way, you can give more weight to those feeds that matter…backlinks may be useful but don’t tell the whole story since many subscribers use various desktop or online software to subscribe to feeds but may not necessarily link to them.

more info

The Bloglines CEO, Mark Fletcher, is claiming he will have the best Blog Search out there by summer.

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