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Mar 15 2006
A Different Sort of Local (Paid) Search
John Battelle has an interesting post about a New York public policy group that has taken out ads on Google grading New York state legislators' voting records. Political spending online is an important and growing area of geotargeted paid search (and other local online marketing) that we don't currently cover. But it's an increasingly important area.

These legislators are all public figures and so there is no defamation/libel issue from a reputable organization publicizing their voting records. But like some of the trademark questions on the commercial side, imagine how paid search might be used to disparage or negatively affect the reputation of an individual or local business. We may see a day relatively soon when individuals with any degree of professional or public visibility need to manage themselves just like brands on the Internet and buy their own names as keywords to protect (as well as advance) their reputations.

Think about this scenario: I have a bad experience with a local mechanic or other local contractor and am unable to satisfactorily resolve the dispute. I walk away angry and so I launch a search campaign (supported by a free blog) to tell the world about this corrupt mechanic (in my opinion).

Whenever that mechanic is searched for in a certain geography, my ad comes up telling people not to go there. If I'm skillful I could have a material impact on that business' reputation and outlook. I get sued and � maybe � Google or Yahoo! or MSN gets sued too.

This is the lawyer in me spinning out scenarios that probably won't come to pass. But there would be no way to police this kind of thing on an automated basis. The engine would have to have a grievance procedure � a kind of internal private arbitration where parties complain, ads are brought down pending some sort of resolution, etc.

Anyway (I hope I'm not giving anyone any ideas).

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  13:34 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 15 2006
AOL Begins Streaming 'Vintage' TV Shows
AOL begins streaming free full episodes of "vintage" or "classic" (some might say euphemisms for old) TV shows here. Like Live 8, this could prove an important moment for online video as broadband consumers get accustomed to watching full-length TV shows (as opposed to clips and shorts) on their PCs.

The viral elements (IM and e-mail) as well as the choice (the ability to watch any available episode) are noteworthy and strikingly different from conventional TV viewing. I must say, however, my limited experience with the site this morning was not entirely satisfying, but perhaps that's to be expected with a beta launch.

It's quite easy to see how contextually relevant, behaviorally or location targeted ads can and likely will be built around this, which shows the way for IPTV to some degree. One might argue that AOL is loading up too many distracting graphical ads around the experience already.

What will be important is how the public reacts to the content and uses the site.
_________

Here's more from USA Today and Reuters, with some information about advertiser demand and future plans for a subscription-based download service.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:33 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 15 2006
Nielsen Says: Broadband Is Up (So Is Video)
After a series of pronouncements and surveys that argued broadband adoption had all but reached its apotheosis, Nielsen/NetRatings reported yesterday that broadband was still enjoying strong growth in the U.S.:

The number of active broadband users from home increased ... from 74.3 million in February 2005 to 95.5 million in February 2006 ... hitting an all-time high of 68 percent for active Internet users in February 2006 ... Overall Internet penetration in the US has stabilized over the past few years, reaching 74 percent at home in February 2006.


There's a lot at stake in whether consumers continue to adopt high-speed access and/or high-speed Internet access becomes more widely available (e.g., Wi-Fi hotspots, etc). Broadband/always-on access is the single factor more than any other that changes users' behavior and causes them to spend more time online doing more things, often at the expense of traditional media (though that typically depends on demographic and income/educational factors).

Rich media and video consumption also benefit from broadband. Here are Nielsen's data about the most trafficked U.S. video sites in February:
  1. MSN Video
  2. YouTube
  3. Google Video
  4. iFILM (now owned by Viacom/MTV)
  5. video.search.yahoo.com
Again, according to Nielsen:

MSN Video garnered 9.3 million unique visitors in February 2006, growing 44 percent over the previous year. YouTube and Google Video grew from relative obscurity in February 2005 to substantial players in February 2006, drawing 9.0 million and 6.2 million unique visitors, respectively. iFilm and Yahoo�s video search saw triple digit year-over-year growth in their visitation, drawing 4.3 million and 3.8 million unique visitors, respectively.

_________

Here's more on the politics of broadband.

Vaguely related: Harris Interactive survey data on news media consumption by media type and user age category (as you might imagine, the younger the consumer the more it skews toward online).



Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  06:42 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 15 2006
Social Search and Shameless Plug
"Social Search Is the New Black." People don't seem to get the joke when I say this.

Anyway, "social networking" (or social search) has gone from marginal to almost mainstream in a little over a year. It's remarkable how almost every new start-up has a social media or community layer. On one level it's smart to leverage the community. (In people's heads is where most local knowledge is and social media in one sense is an extension of word of mouth.) Social media is one of the core elements of "Web 2.0." But skeptics tend to see social search/media as fashion and perhaps dressing up an offering that otherwise wouldn't be competitive or taken seriously.

Even though it was a late add, I think the Drilling Down panel "Social Search Is the New Black" will be one of the most compelling of the show. Social media is permeating virtually all the new sites being rolled out today, and a host of major media companies are seeking to build the next MySpace. Moreover, social search is at the core of Yahoo!'s strategy to differentiate from Google (see below), though Google is becoming more social at the margins.

I'm very pleased to say the speaker lineup on that panel will be diverse and very interesting:

  • Jeremy Zawodny, Technical Yahoo!, Yahoo!
  • Steven Marder, CEO, Eurekster
  • Chris DeVore , COO and cofounder, Judy's Book
  • Manish Chandra, CEO and founder, Kaboodle
  • Chris Tolles, VP of sales and marketing, Topix.net
  • Andy Gadiel, CEO, JamBase
As with the majority of sessions at this year's conference it will be moderated question and answer and so we should be able to get into the "meet" (get it) of the issues very rapidly.

________

Search Engine Journal points to a Thomas Weisel Partners interview with Yahoo! cofounder Jerry Yang about, among other things, social search:

If I trust someone about SF restaurants, if I knew his filter, the searches would be better. Social Search. You start [with] people you know, but [then you have] broader people (b/c so many people have recognized that person as the expert). It is something that has a huge potential. It combines the user participation model and the algorithmic model. You have the 6 degrees of separation model � to run that as a service/technology is a challenge.




Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  06:15 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 15 2006
Activity in Redmond
There's tons of stuff going on over at Microsoft. I can't keep track of it all. So ... Search Engine Journal has updates here (video), here (Office Live's ad strategy) and here (MSN building ad network on internal sites).

Here's the Windows Live Local/Virtual Earth blog. And the Live main blog/site LiveSide.

In addition, this week the folks in Redmond are hosting an online Small Business Summit. But as far as I can tell from looking at the agenda, there isn't anything really practical on online advertising and marketing. It seems to be almost entirely about selling software. Yet wouldn't this be a perfect time to introduce AdCenter and other marketing vehicles from MSFT to small businesses? That content seems to be entirely absent ... Strange.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  05:21 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 14 2006
The Mapping Space Race
Om Malik reports on Google's acquisition of 3-D rendering company @Last Software, which owns SketchUp. He also asks what it means for Google. In a word: maps.

Here's the company's Google Earth plug in. Google Earth already does rudimentary 3-D rendering of cities. Companies like GeoSim are already well under way in developing rich 3-D maps of cities for online implementation. And Microsoft is heavily investing in the same thing � even though the mainstream user population is still at driving directions. SketchUp may in fact become Google's answer to Windows Live Local's bird's-eye photography.

When you get rich 3-D mapping up and running on the Internet, there are all kinds of use cases and ad opportunities. Real estate or hotels/travel are two examples that come immediately to mind.

Here's what Google has to say about it. Here's what SketchUp has to say.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  17:12 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 14 2006
Google Appears to Lose to Justice Dept.
According to this Associated Press story (reg. req'd), U.S. District Judge James Ware indicated that he is going to order Google to comply with at least part of the Bush admin's request to turn over search records.

Yahoo!, AOL and MSN previously voluntarily complied to varying degrees with the same government requests. If the Bush administration were not in fact Big Brother, this ruling might not be such a concern. But given the administration's track record (i.e., domestic spying and lying about it), there may be some fallout for search engines, if people "grok" the implications.

According to a recent University of Connecticut survey, most Americans disapprove of the government gaining access to search engine user behavior. And 51% of respondents said that they were not confident that their search behaviors would remain private in the future.

While this won't affect basic search user behaviors (e.g., "iPod," "indian restaurants, Manhattan") it may significantly affect plans like GDrive that have major privacy implications.

_____

Here's the WSJ (sub req'd) story.

eMarketer reports (via MediaPost) that consumers are "extremely" concerned about online privacy.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  15:52 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 14 2006
Vast.com Launches
I got a chance to get a quick preview and overview of Vast.com yesterday. What is Vast? On first blush it's yet another free classifieds site, joining an already extremely crowded field. But if one looks closer it's much more interesting than that.

Naval Ravikant, the CEO and founder � he also founded Epinions.com � doesn't want to be a consumer destination and says, "I won't spend a dime on marketing." Like Edgeio, Vast can "pick up" listings from blogs but it also obtains data from the large aggregators (e.g., Cars.com, CareerBuilder) and � this is critical, according to Ravikant � the "vast" middle range of sites (e.g., individual Realtor sites) whose content typically doesn't make it into conventional aggregators' listings.

Ravikant called this realm "the middle tail." But you shouldn't think about Vast as a classifieds site. Think of it as a vertical-local search site. More categories, beyond typical classifieds, will be rolled out in the near future.

The entire site is based on crawling, with dynamically generated and contextually relevant navigation. Here's an example of Audis in my ZIP code. What Vast, as well as sites like Openlist.com, start to show is that crawling can create structure out of unstructured Web content. This makes potentially possible a whole new generation of local search sites.

Ravikant has a monetization stategy based on premium placement. But he says he has a long time horizon and a slow burn rate. Beyond the crawling strategy, which isn't yet perfected Ravikant admits, the really interesting thing is what you can do with Vast's API. It allows anyone � whether a blogger or a large publisher � to take a vertical index and plug it into a Web site. That would include the monetization when it kicks in.

That means, say, as an individual Realtor (assuming I had the chops to implement) that I could list all the homes for sale in my territory or a larger geography by tapping into Vast's API. Vast makes huge amounts of content immediately available, either horizontally or vertically, to anyone who wants to publish that content.

Vast will be a site and a company to watch both for its technology and capabilities, as well as it's "attitude." There's more to say, as always ...

_________

Per John Battelle . . . a classifieds roundup by Gary Price of Ask (formerly SEW).

More on Vast from Paul Kedrosky.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  12:10 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]





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