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Jan 28 2006
What's in a Name(TM)?
Almost everyone is using the term "social search" to describe a rash of "Web 2.0-style" offerings (whether product features or new sites) that try to blend community with another application (e.g., search, shopping, etc.).

Here's a post by Danny Sullivan (SEW) about a dispute between Judy's Book and presumably Yahoo! regarding Judy's Book's asserted trademark over the term "social search." Judy's Book has been granted the registered trademark to the term

As Danny suggests in his post, "social search" is a little like a "generic term" that has been used for a few years with increasing frequency as the market has evolved.

Now Judy's Book can send "cease and desist" letters to the host of companies directly or indirectly using the term in their marketing. If they do, it won't necessarily do anything for them; however, if they get a lot of coverage on this story that might be good for their consumer awareness.

Judy's Book, which is run by smart people, will sink or swim not on the marketing value of the term "social search," but on the merits of the user experience it offers and the value it delivers to local advertisers (to which the company sells phone leads, otherwise know as "pay per [phone] call.")

Speaking of which, the term "pay per call" has been TM'd by Ingenio. So everyone else in the phone leads business needs to use another term � and they're starting to.

In the PPCall arena there might be a few more (marketing) reasons (than in "social search") to assert trademark rights over "pay per call." Yet, again, whether a service is called "pay per call," "pay per phone call," "phone leads," "performance calls," whatever ... the value delivered to Ingenio's advertisers and its partner distribution network will determine whether the company achieves its ultimate business objectives.

"Google" and "Yahoo!" are essentially nonsense terms that have become mega-brands because of what they actually do and deliver for people.

In fact, if you start a company today and you want your brand and your URL to be the same you have to "make up a word," as Richard Barton, CEO of new real estate site Zillow, told me today (more on Zillow later).

Somebody needs to write a piece about all the distorted names and brands of new companies out there because all the URLs are taken. Case in point: Here's another new (health) search engine: Kosmix.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  04:57 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [2]



Jan 27 2006
New Google SERP Display
No time to discuss now. Check out a screenshot of the test.

More to come later. Precious little additional info in this article.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  10:42 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 27 2006
Music.Google.com?
As Google more and more becomes a "media company," media opportunities cannot be missed. Here's Gary Price speculating about and discussing the seemingly impending Google Music.

Music and other potential vertical domains raise the broader question of how Google intends to handle "vertical search" going forward � separate sites for everything (video, local, shopping, music, travel, financial, etc.)? Although one might argue for a separate "media hub" that contained video and music, etc.

Earlier I wrote about the current Google Music search as one indicator of how Google might be handling verticals and still maintaining the primacy of the Google.com domain:

As I�ve argued before, Google is �ambivalent� about verticals � the company wants to push out as much as it can through Google.com results. It created �News,� �Local,� �Shopping,� �Blog Search,� �Video� and some other arguable �verticals� because it felt it needed to do so to offer the optimal user experience. But the company doesn�t want to keep doing this for every possible content area: Finance, Health, Cars, Jobs, Real Estate and so on.

Google would really start fragmenting its audience, which is a big problem with local generally. So what does it do as it expands its �content� offerings and introduces richer data for each new area?

It does what the company is starting to do in music and doing in weather. But an even better example is what it�s doing with movie showtimes. Google is offering what we might call �Page 2.�

You get a tease or a set of links on top of the search results page (similar to Local now), and then you�ll be taken into a specialized content area. This is how Google will keep users going to Google.com (where most go anyway) and also offer a competitive �vertical� experience (Page 2), where the features and content can be tailored to the specific topic: Cars, Jobs, Real Estate, Movies, Finance, Music, etc.

Google also starts to create very valuable ad inventory on these pages � inventory arguably much more valuable than that on Google.com.

This is, I believe, how Google solves and resolves the problem of maintaining its almost religious devotion to �one box� and Google.com while offering richer/deeper content and specific navigation � a vertical user experience � in particular areas, which it needs to do to maintain market share and, ultimately, deliver more value to marketers over the long term.


Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:18 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [7]



Jan 26 2006
Bullish on InfoSpace
I've heard it occasionally said about InfoSpace, which owns metasearch engine Dogpile, "what do they want to be when they grow up?" In other words, what's their business model?

Here's a very bullish piece, originally published in The Motley Fool, that argues the model is healthy and InfoSpace is undervalued by the market:

Last night, InfoSpace closed out 2005 in fine fashion. Earnings before one-time favorable charges rose from $1.40 to $1.60 per share, while revenues came in 36% higher to hit $340 million.

Even after buying back $70 million worth of its stock, the company's cash balance remains strong, clocking in at $11.16 a share. Back that out to arrive at an enterprise value of less than $450 million. A leading and consistently profitable technology company at just 2.2 times 2005 sales? Let's put this into perspective. Last month, Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS - News) agreed to buy online gaming upstart Jamdat Mobile (Nasdaq: JMDT - News) at more than 10 times trailing revenue.

Adding a little more color to that particular acquisition, EA's buyout price of $680 million would be more than enough to swallow InfoSpace whole, yet InfoSpace's mobile revenues are nearly twice Jamdat's.


While InfoSpace owns a very small share of the consumer search market, it has considerable mobile assets that are not as visible to consumers (or many in the industry for that matter). Separately, today, the company announced a multiyear renewal of its relationship with Yahoo! (search results and text advertising).
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  19:26 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 26 2006
Rich Media Ads on Google?
Blogger Jennifer Slegg uncovered today that Google is experimenting with rich media ads. The undisclosed plan will, according to Slegg's sources, involve site targeted campaigns (rather than contextual) and have interstitials (those that precede a link's destination), expanding ads and floating ads.

If true, this will be a major departure from Google's text-only ad setup and could provide a much different (read: inferior) user experience. Although there will be many advertiser benefits that Slegg does a good job of describing.

Along with Google's decision to censor certain content to enter the Chinese search market, the company is going down paths that many thought it never would. Little is known about the rich medi ad plan, but we'll follow it as closely as we can.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  17:49 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 26 2006
IPTV in 10 Million Homes in Five Years?
Microsoft will be an integral part of the IPTV revolution, running the software that will reside in the set-top boxes of IPTV systems for Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth. As in the PC market, it has made a very smart and forward-thinking decision to corner the market for software that will dominate the node level of IPTV systems (it also provides some back-end software).

With so much tied up in IPTV, the company has a vested interest in making predictions about how the medium will change our lives and how quickly and seamlessly it will be deployed. Its latest public prediction is that IPTV will reach 10 million homes in the next five years. This could happen because of broadband penetration, anticipated demand and an increasingly digital culture. But consider that cable took 17 years to reach the same goal.

We will get more into this topic, and our predictions for IPTV ubiquity, business model sustainability, and the all-important advertising model in an upcoming Advisory.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  17:18 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 26 2006
Smartphone Dilemma
The other day I was considering updating my old "candybar" cellphone. I went into the Sprint/Nextel retail store and began playing around with numerous new and advanced smartphones. I was all set to pull the trigger on buying a new smartphone when I asked a simple question: "How much talk time does this wizbang phone offer?" The salesperson turned his head down and said, "Well, sir, frankly not very much � an hour or two is about all I can talk if I am doing anything on the Web." That small and vital piece of information was all I needed to march over and choose a traditional "candybar" cellphone � one that only does the basics but offers hours of digital talk time. The lesson here is that, while the features of a smartphone are very interesting, the notion of recharging my phone every couple of hours was a quick turn-off. While there may be plenty of early adopters for the smartphone, anyone with half a brain will wait till they solve the talk-time dilemma.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Neal Polachek at  12:47 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 26 2006
My Yahoo! Addendum
To add to Greg's comments on the strengths and potential of My Yahoo!, see our post earlier this month about Yahoo!'s expressed plans for the personal hub.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:23 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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