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Feb 9 2006
MyWeb 2.0.2
John Battelle reported today that Yahoo! has upgraded MyWeb 2.0. Users can now search "everybody's tabs," which basically expands the social search aspect of the service. MyWeb along with Yahoo!-owned del.icio.us could be central elements to Yahoo!'s overall "folksonomy" strategy that relies on the power of people to tag content (rather than the more Google-esque approach of using lots of computing power to index the Web).

BUT, there are still very few users of MyWeb, and Yahoo! hasn't done much to market it (the company doesn't disclose how many users it has, but there are 709,927 saved pages as of today � I alone account for 350 of those). This could change soon, as enhancements to the service are a good sign that it's getting closer to prime time (remember, it's still in beta), and a possible marketing push.

The point is that social search can only be as good as the amount of people using it, and there's definitely a critical mass to make it work on a large scale. We'll explore MyWeb and the dynamics of social search in an upcoming White Paper.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  15:38 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]



Feb 9 2006
Bright Spots for The New York Times Co.
In the current issue of Local Media Journal, we break down the Q4 earnings announcements of major U.S. newspaper publishers. You probably know the story; circulation and revenues are in decline, while online assets continue to show growth.

To add to this, yesterday The New York Times Co. announced some numbers for January that showed a 3.4 percent ad revenue increase for About.com (which it purchased last year) while the company's overall revenues slipped 3.2 percent.

From Paid Content:

--"Outstanding growth" in cost-per-click advertising drove About.com's growth to $7.1 million in ad revenues; the unit's ad revenues increased 124 percent compared to january '05, when it was still owned by Primedia. (This January included four more reporting days than the previous year.) About.com also reported display growth.

� Online ad revenue was up 22 percent across the News Media Groups with "strong growth" in display and classified advertising.

� Despite the strength of Craigslist and other classified competitors, real-estate classified rose 15.3 percent.

� TimesSelect: The Times' groundbreaking premium service continues to grow. As of Jan. 31, TimesSelect had approximately 410,000 subscribers � about 62 percent get the service as part of their print subscription and about 38 percent are online only.


The New York Times also just struck a deal with fast moving Internet video start-up Brightcove (the company offers large and small video producers a platform to distribute their content and generate ad or sales revenues). Under the multiyear arrangement, Brightcove will distribute and syndicate broadband video across NYtimes properties. This gives Brightcove more ad inventory (and valuable inventory it seems) in its network, and it gives the Times a branded platform for distributing video on its sites � something that is becoming very high in demand in online news and that The Times certainly couldn't have done on its own.

We expect to see more deals between advertiser and publisher facing video networks, and traditional media companies that wish to differentiate themselves (or stay competitive) with video capability.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:20 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 9 2006
Privacy and Google Desktop
This USA Today article by Jefferson Graham pushes the privacy angle: "will/should consumers be fearful of the privacy issues" associated with the new "search across computers" feature of Google Desktop?

I spoke to Graham about this late yesterday and told him that I felt Google was being more sensitive to privacy concerns this time around than it has been in the past.

I also told him I felt that how the issue is presented to consumers � much like a political survey � will determine how consumers react.

For example, when Americans are asked about whether they are comfortable with Bush's wiretapping program directed at American citizens, a majority say "no." But with the more Orwellian spin of the Bush handlers � "terrorist surveillance program" � people are more inclined to support the illicit operation.

In my view, the real concern with all the recent Internet privacy debate swirling around Google is not whether the company has my data on its servers as much as who can access that data through Google (i.e., the government). But unless that question is definitively resolved in favor of individual privacy there may not be a practical difference.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  11:59 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 9 2006
Murdoch Stresses Targeting
News Corp. announced fourth-quarter earnings yesterday. During the earnings call Rupert Murdoch stressed the value of its Internet properties, which has yet to be shown in reported financials. To read into this, the value of MySpace's 50 million dedicated users hasn't been monetized anywhere near its potential.

Our mandate now is clear: to monetize this vast audience with targeted advertising made possible by the wealth of information we have from our engaged, passionate users. The revenue and profit potential from monetizing this audience, even a fraction of it, is significant, he said.

A few questions arise from this: what is the best way to integrate advertising into a user experience that a dedicated, yet possibly fickle (teenage) demographic has gotten very accustomed to? There is a dangerous risk in inferiorating (made-up word) the user experience, while infuriating the user base.

MySpace has proved to be extremely sticky and the barriers to compete are high (users have established networks of friends and sunken investments in their time to create their content-rich MySpace home pages). But anything can happen with a demographic for which viral marketing resonates so well. And new challengers continue to enter the social networking space to share the wealth. It's MySpace's game to lose.

It has been proved by some (Google, Topix) that targeted ads, if targeted enough, aren't seen as intrusive but rather part of the content of a given page. So it will be interesting to see how and if MySpace pulls this off. The degree that local ads play a part in this strategy and what channels FIM will use to bring it all together are also important questions. The company is vague about its plans in this respect but it is interesting to extrapolate its strategy, given the sheer volume of the MySpace user base. We'll be watching this closely.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  11:32 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 9 2006
SkypeWeb, Presence Management and PPCall
eBay-owned Skype today launched "SkypeWeb":

Skype, the global Internet communications company, today announced SkypeWeb, a Web presence feature that is already integrated into more than 50 Web sites in 20 countries around the world. SkypeWeb allows people to see Skype users� online status and call or chat with them from any Web site as well as Skype people from each site with the simple click of a mouse.

�With just a few simple steps we were able to incorporate SkypeWeb into our AppExchange platform,� said Adam Gross, vice president, developer marketing, salesforce.com. �In addition to free Skype voice calls, the SkypeWeb presence feature gives our subscribers the ability to know when their contacts and colleagues are available and online � all directly from within Salesforce."

SkypeWeb integrates Skype seamlessly and into any Web site. With SkypeWeb, Web administrators can easily enable all site visitors to talk for free over the Internet.


Here are the buttons.

There are potentially many things to discuss about this. One is the rapid "mainstreaming" of VoIP. But the thing I want to focus on is the local/PPCall aspect. There's no PPCall system in place yet (it's VoIP click-to-call) but a system like SkypeWeb could become an advertising vehicle for local businesses at some point. (ContactAtOnce distributes "presence management" icons/chat windows as an advertising tool today.)

According to the Skype release, "DBA.DK the number one Danish classifieds portal, is using SkypeWeb to show the Skype status of people who have posted classified ads."

This is the kind of functionality that eBay promoted when it bought Skype to enable communication between buyers and sellers. But as the classifieds forum I moderated last night made clear, calls are much more important to local sellers than to e-commerce vendors. Thus the local business implications of click-to-call (and the potential business model layer of PPCall on top of that) are immediate.

Microsoft suggested integration of VoIP as a layer on top of its Windows Live Local product when Live was launched last year in San Francisco.

It could well be that every Web site or landing/profile page associated with every local business will one day have such functionality. It could be free, subscription-based or performance-based (PPCall).



Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:32 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 9 2006
Classifieds Search Forum
I was invited by SimplyHired's Dave McClure to moderate the SDForum's Search SIG event last night on classifieds and search.

Panelists were:


  • Bindu Reddy, Product Manager Google Base, Google
  • Craig Donato, Founder/CEO, Oodle
  • Keith Teare, Founder/CEO, Edgeio

The discussion was very candid and informal and revolved around the transition from traditional classifieds to online, the online classifieds business model (a question that wasn't fully answered to my satisfaction) and the coming impact of self-publishing and RSS on online classifieds (could be revolutionary).

To that latter point, this was the first time I got a look at Edgeio, which uses the tagline "listings from the edge" ("the edge" might be a fresh and worthy substitute for the somewhat tired term, "the long tail"). Among other things, Edgeio allows people to self-publish "listings" (stuff/services for sale) on their own sites, which then get picked up via RSS and distributed to Edgeio and beyond.

It has pretty significant implications if it catches on. Teare described the site as a kind of "middleware" in the process of publishing and distributing listings/advertising across the network (this is a cousin of former Tribe CEO Mark Pincus' vision articulated in his keynote at ILM:04). But the site's not public yet and so I won't go into it further.

The initial question I asked was, "What are classifieds; is there something fundamentally different about classifieds vs. other types of online advertising?" The answers were quite interesting, with Keith Teare arguing essentially that classifieds were just one form of "listings." Craig Donato (who wore a fabulous chartreuse shirt) made a powerful case that there were essential characteristics that distinguished classifieds (they're "perishable," they're local, fulfillment is offline). He argued that these traits required and justified a specific approach.

Bindu Reddy, who sought to emphasize that Google Base accepts classifieds content but is not "Google Classifieds," (I agree) said some fascinating things about how Google is experimenting with Base (e.g., tagging) and how the organization of content there may have broader implications for the next generation of Google search. (I also had another "vision" of Google's vertical future during her demo.)

Reddy and Donato agreed that PPCall was a model that would have more and more resonance and application in the local market, including with classifieds (and the Jambo deal reflects that in a traditional publication).

This was my first such event and I think they're very valuable (here's the calendar), though unfortunately only available to people in the Silicon Valley area. They were recording it for podcast, but I don't yet have a link. I'll post one if I discover it.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  08:38 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 9 2006
Google Desktop Upgrade
Google launched an upgrade to desktop search/Sidebar. There were a number of feature enhancements (remote PC/file access, "undocking" of plugp-ins and sharing functionality). That's a very "quick and dirty" summary. The most interesting feature of the new enhancements from my point of view is the "social" or sharing dimension.

Users can send articles and "Web Clips" to one another via e-mail or IM or directly to each other's Sidebars. And there's some "wiki-like" functionality in that, in a few cases, people can be in the same module at the same time (think shared "to-do list"'). Right now that wiki/collaborative element is very limited, but it will likely evolve quickly as developers build more of these modules (which have become much more like Yahoo!'s widgets in this version).

Yahoo! has made huge bets on "social search" and other community functionality and Google has to date not done much in this realm. But the company is moving into tagging rapidly (e.g., Google Base) and these new "social" features of Sidebar create a community/viral dimension that Google hopes will boost adoption.

It's also interesting to start seeing many elements coming together with intersecting or overlapping functionality: the personalized home page, personal search history, the upgraded toolbar, Gmail + IM, Google Talk in Sidebar, etc.

You can start to see some set of these functions closing in on some sort of "center," although there won't ever be a single application I don't believe. But over time Google will get a sense of where the concentration of its users are and what they're doing and will emphasize those tools and applications accordingly.

_____________

Here's the official Desktop Google Blog statement.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  01:16 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 8 2006
Google Goes Public with Print
Thanks again to John Battelle for pointing out that Google has gone "public" with its program to allow advertisers to buy access (via auction) to print advertising in some very high-profile magazines:

As you may know, as part of Google's ongoing effort to develop new opportunities for our advertisers, we've been running tests of ads in a limited number of print publications. Now, we're excited to test an auction of ad space in select magazines.

In this test, the control is in your hands: you choose the ad size, set your price, and decide how you'd like to use the space. There's no risk to you � you pay only if you win the auction.


Here's the page that features Martha Stewart Living.

The catch here is you provide the creative (a barrier for many smaller advertisers). But this is now step 2 (dMarc being step 1) in the process of Google becoming a "unified platform" for media buying � online and off.
__________

On Day 2 of Drilling Down, we'll have this relevant panel:

The Future of Local Media Buying: The Integrated Online-Offline Platform
Until recently, online marketing was regarded with skepticism and ambivalence. In 2005, led by paid search, online marketing in general came to be seen as a credible medium. While newspapers and Internet Yellow Pages have long been selling online advertising on their sites (and more recently into broader networks), the Google acquisition of dMarc suggests a potentially new, more integrated online-offline media future. It also directly brings the harsh light of performance-based marketing and Web analytics to a traditional advertising medium. The panelists will discuss these and other recent developments and what the near and long term will hold for online marketing and interactive local media.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  18:59 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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