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Feb 23 2006
Yahoo! Answers with More Features
I'm about to leave for the airport so I've only got a few more minutes to blog here . . .

Loren Baker at Search Engine Journal has written up some new features at Yahoo! answers, another component of the Yahoo! community/social search strategy. Here's a description of the changes/upgrades from the Yahoo! Search Blog.

We blogged at length in the past about the local dimensions of Yahoo! Answers -- a word of mouth/recommendations tool with obvious implications for the local market -- here and here (don't read this one; it has unfortunate formatting errors).

Of interest is the new distribution/marketing strategy being adopted that allows individuals to place a branded Yahoo! Answers module on a blog or website. There's also toolbar integration, which helps "distribute" it further.

Also, answers used to "ping" answer-seekers via email, which was terribly awkward. Now you can set up an RSS feed to MyYahoo! or another news reader, which is a nice development.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  14:00 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 23 2006
Why Do We Care So Much About IPTV?
Here is a great introductory article on the nuts and bolts of IPTV technology. Why is this important or relevant to local? The architecture of IPTV systems will allow for a two way street of communication between users and servers � much like the IP architecture of the web � which makes it much more interactive than television today as we know it. And that interactivity or �pull� of information and content will enable the geographic and contextually relevant advertising opportunities that we�ve seen flourish on the web.

From the article;

This speaks to the basic difference between IPTV and the QAM system that has dominated cable and satellite TV to date. With QAM, all channels are sent into the home, where the set-top box or boxes decide which channel to watch.

�If 250 channels are being broadcast into your home,� Graczyk said, "the set-top ignores the 249 you're not watching and displays the one you are. But those extra 249 take up a huge amount of bandwidth."

With IPTV, each set-top box in the home sends a request to a server located at the service provider, and the server sends back just the channel requested. Regardless of the number of channels available, even if many are HD, the amount of capacity into the home need only be enough to handle one channel per set-top box plus enough for data and voice.


One channel being called up at a time - instead of 250 channels always available to channel surf - is technically much like the way we web surf. Each time a channel is chosen, the server knows it. How service providers of IPTV systems (mostly telcos) use this valuable information to serve up contextually relevant ads (or partner with those who can) is the question. How the fragmented universe of local and small businesses will be addressed by a sales channel is also an important question. As we�ve said in the past, telco-owned directory businesses could utilize existing feet on the street to do the heavy lifting, and offer IPTV to SMEs as part of a cross platform sales strategy. The ability or willingness of SME's to create video ads (creative, rather than directional) will also be an important area to address, which is why Spot Runner is so intriguing.

I recently attended VenturWire's Network Ventures conference in San Jose where there was a great session entitled Tune into the Network � Getting Ready for IPTV. Shawn Carolan, Managing Director of Menlo Ventures had some interesting things to say;

What will make IPTV take off are services that are compelling. VOD is pretty compelling, but one that is very interesting that still isn�t ready from a software infrastructure standpoint, is really targeted advertising. It has some privacy concerns, but look at what Google has done on the web. If you search for keyword you�ll get organic search results surrounded by sponsored results. Well it turns out that people click more on the sponsored results than the organic results by 25 percent. Why is that? The reason is because it is very well selected and targeted ads, and I think well targeted ads become content to the user.

From a user standpoint, IPTV is also starting to get a great deal of attention with recent studies done on user awareness and interest by Jupiter Research, Points North Group, and Harris Interactive.

The San Francisco Chronicle also came out with a good introductory piece this week on IPTV business models, and the service rollouts underway by telecoms. And the Rocky Mountain News has a piece on the legal battle around franchise laws and content regulation of IPTV (does it fall under the guidelines of the Web, or that of cable television).

That�s enough to keep you busy for now. But in addition to continuing editorial coverage, we�ll be talking about IPTV (upcoming shameless plug warning) at our upcoming Drilling Down on Local conference during the following panel. Hope to see you there.

1,000,001 Channels: But Is Anybody Watching?
TV used to be simple for everyone. But the newly fragmenting world of video search, mobile TV, on-demand cable and IPTV makes the range of potential consumer choices staggering. What are the new technologies that are rapidly turning TV from a mass medium to one that is highly personalized? What is the new consumer �video consumption� model, and what are the implications for networks, content producers and advertisers? Will a million �Wayne�s Worlds� and the potential �Tower of Babel� effect destroy the medium for advertisers or open it up to a range of exciting new possibilities, including some for SMEs?
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:47 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 23 2006
Google Page Creator
Yahoo! some time ago launched a free website offering for small businesses (to get their content and as a "foot in the door" for web hositing upsells). When I speak to Yahoo! about it, they won't reveal numbers but say the product has been well received.

Today Google launched something similar but somewhat broader: "Google Page Creator." Here's the official Google press dispatch:

The new product is Google Page Creator, a free, easy, browser-based tool for creating attractive web pages.

Web publishing can be complicated, expensive, and unsatisfying. Google Page Creator has been designed with ease of use in mind. Its unique interface enables users to edit and create pages just as they appear online, without knowledge of HTML or other computer programming languages. Combined with a simple one-step publishing process, users can create attractive, functional web pages in minutes - hosted by Google for free.

Google Page Creator is a web-based tool, meaning no download is necessary. Users need only visit http//pages.google.com and sign in using their Gmail account to begin creating and publishing their own web pages.


They're not accepting new sign-ups given the apparent demand today. Here's the quickie site I created in about 5 minutes. It's about as easy to use as blogging tools.

In order to get access to the product, you have to have an account (essentially sign up for gmail). Your gmail address becomes the first part of your URL, in my case: http://greg.sterling.googlepages.com/home.

This will certainly drive more gmail adoption (with people signing up for multiple accounts). There's also a "viral" option built into the system, "tell a friend," allowing you to email the url to third parties.

Our data reflect that about 42 percent of small business advertisers have websites. (Google would say this isn't just about SMEs in the way that Base isn't just about Classifieds.) And while everyone needs a web presence (no debate now), how extensive that presence needs to be is a real question. Do SMEs need full blow sites or do they simply need effective "landing pages?" Though Page Creator does seem to allow for the creation of multiple page sites that go beyond the "landing page" concept.

This product will do several things for Google potentially:

1. Drive more Gmail adoption and Google registrations
2. Create a more direct channel into the SME market (the tool is simple and the idea that I can have a site that gets indexed quickly in Google is appealing)
3. Create the ability to present a range of advertising options (including PPClick and PPCall) to SMEs through their admin "dashboards."

How will it impact traditional web hosting firms? It's too early to tell; but Yahoo!'s free product, and those that preceded it, haven't replaced "professional" websites. Yet the web hosting business is increasingly becoming a template-driven "commodity" business.

I think, however, over the longer term these free website products for both Google and Yahoo! have significant potential both as a channel to acquire content and as a platform to potentially upsell SME-advertisers into paid search and other ad products.

Is Google Page Creator perfect? Probably not; but upon very preliminary investigation it appears quite easy to use and "intuitive" and you get something that approximates your own URL.

Pretty nice.

_____________

Here's more from Chris Sherman at Search Engine Watch, including some skeptical speculation that this may be Google's effort to create a "MySpace" knockoff.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  12:44 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]










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