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Feb 28 2006
Google to Step Up Efforts
A piece that appeared in the WSJ today (sub. req'd) cites Google CFO George Reyes' remark that Google's growth "is slowing due to the 'law of large numbers' and it will need to find new ways to boost revenue." As one might expect, the stock took another hit.

I think this means several obvious things for Google:

  • Pushing out more aggressively in other online ad vehicles (display, PPCall, etc.)
  • Trying to go after more SMEs, which is challenging though not impossible, for all the reasons we've discussed at length
  • Going offline. There's a big Jefferson Graham piece in today's USA Today about Google's "offline" (traditional media) efforts
Unfortunate as slowing growth is for Google, it will make life much more interesting than it has been (how can it get any more "interesting?" you ask) � as Google takes some more "risks" and other companies are forced to react.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  11:44 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 27 2006
Ask Relaunches
I'm busy finishing my presentation for a panel on search engine user behavior later this afternoon at SES. But I wanted to chime in, as many others have already done, on the new Ask.com. The IAC-owned search engine has rebranded and changed its interface to be simpler and graphically more appealing. (Barry Diller spoke this a.m. at SES, which I missed because I was stuck in traffic for 2 hours from JFK.)

Ask has vertically arrayed (no pun intended) all the different specialized content and structured search areas, including local. Interestingly, this approach makes them more prominent than they were in the old "horizontal" navigation scheme.

Ask gained a tiny amount of market share, according to some of the numbers, over the course of the last year. We'll see if the new interface and the new brand will further boost usage of the engine. So far, I like what I see visually.

Here's more detail from Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:30 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 24 2006
Newspapers, Classifieds and Yellow Pages
I was at the Newspaper Association of America's Marketing conference a couple of days ago in Orlando, where it was a humid 80 degrees. I was unfortunately only there for one day, moderating a panel on how to compete with free classifieds, schmoozing and wandering the exhibit hall talking to vendors.

The panel I moderated was on competing with free classifieds and featured:

  • Tom Finke: Tribune Co.
  • Dexter LaPierre: The San Diego Union-Tribune
  • David Prizer: ANG Newspapers, CNP Northern Division
  • Fran Wills: Denver Newspaper Agency
  • Garry Wiseman: Microsoft
This panel (and the conference) had a number of interesting takeaways for me.

The panelists were fairly forthcoming about their successes and failures in their various experiments with free classifieds. Among the surprises were: 1) almost without exception they were unsuccessful in upselling from free ads and 2) they expressed that their newspaper brands carried a certain amount of "baggage" and they potentially needed to create new online brands to effectively compete online.

The Denver Newspaper Assn's YourHub.com was such an example. While the creation of new brands may liberate newspapers from some of the constraints of the traditional newspaper form, it may be very destructive of the brand over the long term � especially, ironically, if these sites are successful.

The point about newspaper "brand baggage" was not uniformly held by all the panelists but several of them did have that view. I personally believe that newspapers need to focus on the overall user experience online and that their brands are actually strengths to be leveraged in local markets. But I also believe the online product is fundamentally different from the print product and needs to be reinvented online.

Unfortunately, there was not enough time to get into all the interesting facets of the conversation. We also didn't get into an important area: syndicating classifieds.

The only non-newspaper person on the panel was MSN/Windows Live Expo's Garry Wiseman, who proved himself truly wise and walked away with tons of business cards after he made specific partnership overtures to the newspapers.

While overall there was still a bit of the "deer in the headlights" quality to some of the discussions I had at the show, most of the people whom I spoke with were smart, aware of the market dynamics and the competition they face, and were ready to take chances and experiment to find out what will work. And there were lots of vendors ready to sell them lots of "solutions."

There was also a local search panel later in the day with Google, Local.com, Tucson.com and Kudzu.com. I thought the panel was very good (I did not moderate). The not-so-subtext on the panel was how, with more effective sites and distribution online, the newspapers might more effectively compete with Yellow Pages for ad dollars.

In general I think the newspaper publishers are going to come much harder at YP advertisers in the next couple of years. The question is execution ... but the intention is clearly there.


Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  18:37 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 24 2006
Google Page Creator Take 2
I just received a briefing from Google on Page Creator, which was the "20%" pet project of Justin Rosenstein, project manager, who said he wanted to create a simple tool that would enable anyone to build a site quickly and easily.

As I indicated yesterday it's very easy � WYSIWYG � to use. It's about as easy or maybe easier than blogging software. And Rosenstein said that the 100 megs of storage is considerably more than most free blogging platforms offer.

People like to attribute much more calculation to Google than actually exists in most of these product rollouts. And I'm somewhat guilty of that myself. I got carried away with the small business and potential strategic implications of this for Google. But I buy it when they say this was intended for anyone who wanted to build a site and that it was not specifically targeting SMEs.

But now that it's here, let's see how SMEs respond.

It's also the case that every teenager in America (or around the globe) could build a personal page on Google. That's an equally compelling alternative or parallel use case. That goes to Chris Sherman's MySpace comparison.

It will be interesting to see how the product evolves after the first rounds of feedback.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  16:24 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



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]





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