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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]



Feb 22 2006
LiveDeal Launches Free Rental Listings
Online classifieds site LiveDeal.com launched a free rental listings service today. Read about it here and here.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  22:38 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 22 2006
PreFound Joins 'Social Web'
Red Herring reports on a social search engine that has launched called PreFound. Like others in this growing space � led most notably by Yahoo! (Flickr, MyWeb, del.icio.us etc.) � its success will depend on gaining a critical mass of users to do all the tagging and indexing on which a social search model is based.

The challenge is that such users are currently made up of a small early adopter crowd, and there are only so many of them to go around among the growing numbers of start-ups in the space. Competition from a Web giant such as Yahoo! exacerbates this challenge.

From the article:

In an interview last week, PreFound�s CEO Steve Mansfield said the site was looking for experts to become featured finders on the site. To do this, these experts must upload groups of links on a topic that they�ve tagged and organized on the web.

It sounds like this means it will rely less on the "masses" of users than on a smaller segment of experts on certain topics (sounds a lot like About.com, which isn't necessarily social search). This means it could be less under the pressure of gaining the critical mass of content contributors mentioned above because it will be more of a niche offering of knowledge and info in certain categories.

Unlike some of Yahoo!'s efforts in the social search space that will rely on users' intrinsic desire to share and tag content, PreFound will incentivize contributions by sharing AdSense-generated revenues. So it will come down to a question of whether or not the company is effective at attracting these contributors and if it's a compelling enough experience for users of the site.

We'll take a closer look at PreFound and the social search space in an upcoming White Paper.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  13:17 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 22 2006
Search Portal Rankings Rundown
A study by research firm Compete (found via Search Engine Watch) found Google has the most loyalty among its users. Here is how the rest of the search engines stacked up:

* Google: 71.0%
* Yahoo!: 48.1%
* MSN: 27.8%
* Excite: 23.4%
* AOL: 23.2%
* Ask: 21.6%
* AltaVista: 16.6%
* Clusty: 10.3%
* A9: 6.4%
* Lycos: 5.8%

Meanwhile, a separate study by BIGresearch reports that Yahoo! leads in overall purchase influence. The study broke down purchasing decisions by category, including electronics, apparel and automotive. Google came out on top in electronics, while Yahoo! led most other categories. Read the release and breakdown of scoring here.

And finally, the top Web sites for overall traffic in January were reported by Nielsen/NetRatings. Yahoo! came out on top, and four of the top five sites were portals. Google came in fourth.

These studies aren't directly related, but they all involve search engines and portals and continue to paint a picture of the battle for usage and market share. Local is a large and very important piece of that market share, although it was not specifically broken out in any of these studies.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:42 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 22 2006
Tons Going On
There are many things happening that I'd like to write and post about, but I've been unable to because of travel. Yesterday I was at the NAA conference and moderated a very interesting panel on "free" classifieds. I attended another interesting discussion on local search and talked to many vendors in the exhibit hall. I hope to post a roundup late today.

Meanwhile, Search Engine Journal has a roundup of interesting news, and Om Malik blogs (as in the verb "to blog") about a new Google-Earthlink Wi-Fi partnership in San Francisco (and possibly beyond). Here's more from the Earthlink Blog.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  12:37 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 22 2006
Online Auto Ads On the Rise
eMarketer predicts an uptick in online auto ads this year. Auto advertisers will spend 1.9 billion in online advertising in 2006 and almost $2.7 in 2007 � up from 1.4 billion last year, according to the research firm.

Other notable facts cited by eMarketer:

* 70 percent of auto buyers use the Web at some point in the buying cycle.

* Despite online growth, overall ad budgets will remain flat this year (GM has cut $200 million out of its $1.5 billion budget).

* Through November 2005 online auto ad spending increased 12.1 percent, while traditional media spends went down 2.5 percent.

Though we're talking about national ad campaigns, the numbers are rooted largely in local buying activity and online usage growth among all consumers. Read more here.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:16 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 20 2006
'Net Neutrality' and Future Growth
Today's N.Y. Times (reg. req'd) has a pro-"net neutrality" editorial:

If access tiering takes hold, the Internet providers, rather than consumers, could become the driving force in how the Internet evolves. Those corporations' profit-driven choices, rather than users' choices, would determine which sites and methodologies succeed and fail. They also might be able to stifle promising innovations, like Internet telephony, that compete with their own business interests.

Telcos and cable companies (correctly) perceive the Internet to be a threat to or, in some cases, already eroding their core businesses and are frustrated that their pipes are feeding the growth of their competitors. One of the not-so-hidden dimensions of these debates is the desire of some of those same providers to stifle or at the very least control the development of the Internet and thus protect their traditional revenue streams, which are more certain and generally predictable than their ability to compete in an open Internet marketplace.

While it's not entirely clear how all this would play out, it's quite possible that local and small business marketing online would likely be harmed by such fees. Yet in the same way that China will ultimately not be able to control the Internet and free speech (notwithstanding the current complicity of the big Internet brands) the ISPs/access providers will not be able to control the trajectory and growth of the Internet.

Just as soon as these potential fee structures were implemented, assuming Congress doesn't intervene to prevent it, alternative access paradigms would emerge. There's too much competition, too much consumer demand and too much at stake for it not to happen.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  12:26 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 20 2006
MySpace: PR Nightmare in the Making
MySpace's phenomenal popularity with the teens and early twentysomethings generated a $580 million acquisition by the seventysomething Rupert Murdoch. Here are some truly impressive recent metrics on the site (according to comScore):

  • 24.2 million unique users in October 2005
  • 11.6 billion page views in October 2005
  • More page views than any destination other than Yahoo!, AOL and MSN.
  • Twice the page views of Google
But what goes up ...

Now the MySpace backlash has begun. Numerous stories about stalkers and sexual predators using MySpace to target teens have started to appear. While most users of MySpace at this point won't care about such stories, this is a PR nightmare in the making that threatens to take over the MySpace "success narrative."

Hence the consideration of a "MySpace Safety Czar." According to an article that appeared in the WSJ on Friday:

News Corp. is scrambling to make MySpace a safer place for young people. News Corp. plans to appoint a "safety czar" to oversee the site, launch an education campaign that may include letters to schools and public-service announcements to encourage children not to reveal their contact information. It also is considering limiting access to certain groups, such as "swingers," to those over 18; blocking search terms that predators could use to locate kids; and encouraging users between 14 and 16 to make their profiles "private," meaning they can only be viewed by people they already know.

"We're going to take some pretty dramatic steps to provide industry-leading safety," says Ross Levinsohn, president of News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media unit, which includes MySpace.


As the Journal points out those measures might strike at the "cool factor" that has made MySpace such a hit among teens, who can be fickle and might not like the introduction of controls or restrictions. We'll see if the site can navigate this rough patch and regain control of its own story.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  08:29 | permalink | comments [3] | trackbacks [0]





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