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Feb 24 2006
Internet Adoption Flat?
According to Parks Associates' recent research, written up in this CNET article, Internet adoption is essentially flat in the US. The firm found 64% of US homes had Internet access, up from 62% in 2004. It also made the prediction that adoption would only grow 3% by the end of the decade.

The at-home broadband percentage was 42 and dial-up claimed 22% of US households according to the research.

There are lots of responses. Here are some:

  • In early 2004, Nielsen//NetRatings reported that 75% of US homes had Internet access (who's right?).
  • Approximately 80% of US workers have access to the Internet at work (Nielsen again). This is where lots of shopping and other non-work related online behavior happens. A 360 degree view of the American Internet audience must consider at-work usage also.
  • The most attractive demographic/income groups have broadband at home (well established)
  • If you segment to look at the attitudes and behaviors of younger consumers, you'll see quite different attitudes and quite a different relationship to the Internet and technology. Here the Internet is just assumed as a necessary ultility and communication tool.
I would say no traditional media should take comfort from this research. Rather the concern needs to be on the online side and specifically about high-speed access. If it's not growing than the corresponding revenue models and related consumer behaviors might not grow as quickly. That's where the issue is.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  14:56 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 24 2006
Switchboard Gets a Facelift
Switchboard Gets a Facelift. Here's the new site. Here's the release.

More later.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  12:25 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 24 2006
MySpace Backlash Part Deux
This time on the marketing side (via ABC) as Jupiter contends that MySpace's traffic and page view numbers are terribly inflated -- "a mirage." Is this just Jupiter being contrarian or is there really something to this?

Here's the comScore data on MySpace traffic and usage (original post here):

  • 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
This raises the larger -- and much debated -- question of the accuracy of the traffic data circulating in the marketplace. Who's right?
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  11:03 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



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
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
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 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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