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Jan 30 2006
My Yahoo! Reaches 30 Million Mark
To add to Greg's post last week about My Yahoo!, there was an interesting article in The New York Times yesterday about the site's usage and strategy.

The Times reports that as of December, there were 30 million Americans that have created a My Yahoo! page. RSS is the main feature of My Yahoo!, but the site has marketed its advantages without ever using the term "RSS" (yet another tech acronym that has the potential of scaring away mainstream Internet users).

Making an easy way to create RSS feeds, and partnering with news and travel sites on which an "add to My Yahoo!" button is offered, has proved successful.

The company is now developing the next-generation RSS software called media RSS, in anticipation of the ramp up in demand for online video. As Yahoo! told us directly, this will be a powerful tool for users to create a personalized hub and launchpad for all their digital media.

The next step is to continue forming partnerships with travel, shopping, auto, jobs and other verticals to make it easy for users to set up feeds on their My Yahoo! pages for alerts that fit their predefined criteria (see our recent advisory RSS and Email Alerts: Shopping 2.0). This could prove to be a powerful tool for classifieds and other advertisers to get in front of users that have expressed a very specific interest.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:11 | permalink | comments [6] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 30 2006
Verizon Settles Strike
It was reported late last week that Verizon has settled the strike by 300 CWA workers in upstate New York. Here is an article with details.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:14 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 30 2006
YPC Launches Ad Campaign
YellowPages.com has launched its long-awaited advertising campaign to generate awareness and organic traffic. The site is jointly owned by AT&T and BellSouth, and the agency handling the campaign, GSD&M in Austin, also does work for AT&T Yellow Pages (formerly SBC).

The stakes for this campaign are fairly high. YPC has a real opportunity, given its intuitive URL, to establish itself as a premier IYP. This would be a real source of strength to YPC's owners, who are increasingly looking to the IYP as a key to restoring top-line growth.

You can read the announcement here.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:02 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 30 2006
Will the Real 'True Local' Please Stand Up?
News Corp.'s True Local search engine has gone live in Australia. Its purpose is to compete with Sensis and it's "powered" by News Corp.-owned newspapers. This is an interesting thing for U.S.-based newspapers to consider, but perhaps impossible for them to pull off as a collective (sort of a YellowPages.com approach).

I suspect we can expect a similar launch in the U.S. in the near term, given all Rupert Murdoch's statements and his aggressive buying of online properties. The only problem is that there's already an established True Local search engine: TrueLocal.com. So this launch reflects either arrogance or stupidity or some mysterious combination of the two.

Unless they intend to build a separate local search brand in the U.S., which is possible, they can't think that they're going to be able to use that brand (indeed, the URL is gone). TrueLocal.com has been operating as a commercial enterprise for well over a year and has plans to expand its geographic coverage.

While two brands or identical company names can exist in circumstances where they're in different businesses, they cannot where there is a "substantial likelihood of consumer confusion." And unless I miss my guess, two local search engines with the name "True Local" would probably be confusing to the ordinary consumer.

So we've got a bit of a David vs. Goliath story here, unless, as I said, News Corp. creates a completely different local search brand in the U.S. Regardless, we can probably say with 100 percent certainty that News Corp./Fox will be getting into local search "stateside."

Yet another player to stir things up (and cover). [:0]
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  04:29 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 30 2006
AOL Ready to Give BB Another Go
America Online has decided to make another push into broadband. Built on top of third-party partnerships with BellSouth, Time Warner Cable, Qwest and AT&T, the company will offer high-speed access across the U.S.

AOL had limited success with this the first time around, so why is the company "giving it another go"? This Reuters article quotes Joe Redling, president of AOL access services:

"What we've seen from early indications is that as we've moved customers from dial-up to broadband, we've seen significant improvements in member life ... It's really a long-term play to stabilize the membership."

Despite the fact that AOL has been losing dial-up subscribers, it still has more than 20 million.

And a high-speed offering will enable AOL to have a more direct channel into broadband homes, which are characterized by more disposable income and education. It may also more effectively enable the company to sell things like its TotalTalk VoIP offering (which is, of course, directly competitive with its telco partners' fixed line phone businesses).
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  04:05 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 30 2006
Google Adds Personalization to Toolbar Upgrade
Google went live tonight with version 4 of its toolbar for IE (Firefox version coming soon, I'm told). You can take a look at the laundry list of features and upgrades here.

Worth noting from my point of view are the following:

  • Bookmarks (the ability to add any page or custom search to the toolbar; it's the return of bookmarks to a degree)
  • Custom buttons (Google has created a bunch of custom buttons and an API to allow third parties to create them � a la "widgets")
  • Send to (ability to share Web sites through e-mail, SMS or publish on blogger). Yahoo! currently offers a comparable feature
  • Account sign-in (from the toolbar; creates another incentive to sign up for an account/Gmail)
Google also enables users to put Local, Froogle, Image Search, Video, News and Gmail (as mentioned) into the toolbar. Will this affect use of these services? It could well boost their visibility and, ultimately, their usage.

For example, I rarely use Froogle (except when I'm comparing it with other services for my work). But with the button always there, it's very easy to click over and use Froogle to do a quick product search, etc. No need to go to Shopzilla or Shopping.com or eBay for these sorts of casual lookups. Just click the button and execute the search. (It removes a step.) Same thing for local: click the button, do the search; it's more "elegant" than conducting a local search on Google.com and clicking the compass icon after the fact.

The previously much-criticized "Autolink" feature does some interesting things with Local, displaying all the addresses that appear on a map (e.g., "wine shops, Oakland, CA"') as a pull-down menu. That enables the user to quickly select a location if s/he knows it ("I want the one on Main," etc.).

Google has a new marketing (and to some degree branding) vehicle to build awareness for these various services (Local, Video, Froogle) through their (opt-in) presence on the toolbar. And the Google Pack "Updater" will notify users of changes and updates, etc. How about a Google Music or Google Travel button in the future?

We previously wrote about toolbars (in an ILM Client Advisory) as a driver of search market share and how they will become more strategic over time. Yahoo! had the greatest toolbar share, according to comScore (July '05: 51 percent of all toolbar searches). About 12 percent of all U.S. searches were executed through toolbars in July, an 8 percent increase over 2004, according to comScore.

I'm sure I haven't captured all the tricks the new toolbar can and will be able to do. But the thing that is most intriguing to me is the way in which the toolbar can house alerts/dynamic searches and could potentially become an RSS reader.

Third parties can create buttons (think blogs: "add to Google Toolbar"') or users can effectively plug feeds into the bookmarks feature. Therefore, it's possible to use the toolbar for all your feeds � something the "ordinary user" won't think about or discover in the near term.

But what that "ordinary" person might well do is set up a Google Alert for some term (e.g., "Kelsey Group") and plug that dynamic search result into his/her bookmarks. This is something that A9 now permits.

Imagine third parties creating buttons or feeds (as more sites are doing) for specials/deals/offers that can become buttons or persistent searches in the toolbar. It creates some very interesting possibilities.

Despite the 1,000,001 toolbars out there, Google and Yahoo! are dominant in terms of market share. They each offer somewhat different features and are thus complementary. Until now, one of the advantages of the Yahoo! toolbar over Google's was the custom buttons (Yahoo! gave you two). The new Google toolbar offers almost unlimited customization possibilities through buttons and bookmarks.

Yahoo!'s toolbar also has "anti-spy," a feature that the new Google toolbar doesn't offer (which I use to delete tracking cookies every day). Indeed, Google hasn't duplicated all the features on the Yahoo! toolbar, but it has eliminated the "customization gap" that existed and created a broader range of potential personalization opportunities.

In addition, the Google toolbar ties in to Google's personalized home page (for those registered and signed in) and to your "search history." In this way we start to see how the "Fusion" strategy might knit together some of these disparate elements (personalized home, sidebar, desktop search, toolbar).

Google right now has a "many doors" approach, in that users can access Google and search through any number of tools and utilities (personalized home, sidebar, toolbar, desktop search, etc.). Over time it will start to be clear to Google how users are predominantly tapping into its features and services, and the company will place emphasis accordingly.

Toolbars have been important, but we expect that over time they will become even more strategic. Yahoo! will not likely leave this development unanswered (at the very least I'd anticipate more custom buttons to be introduced).

So expect more competition and increasing levels of functionality on the "toolbar front" in the future.
___________

More from Chris Sherman at Search Engine Watch.

Here's some interesting discussion of tagging and bookmarking and the new toolbar at Search Engine Journal.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  01:28 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]










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