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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
MyYahoo! to Get Push It Deserves?
MyYahoo! is a powerful strategic asset that has been languishing to some degree. Now Om Malik reports that it may be ready to rise to the level of attention that it deserves internally.

It�s really a potential personal dashboard for search, local, email, news, mobile, video, calendar, etc.�everything to help users manage what is now coming to be know as �the digital lifestyle.� Let�s see what evolves/emerges.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  10:51 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 26 2006
TV Advertisers Cling to Oscars, SuperBowl
As TV audiences fragment, advertisers are clinging to large-scale �live TV� events that still draw large audiences, i.e., the �Oscars� and the Super Bowl. There�s something of a paradox going on: even as audiences shrink, TV networks (in certain cases) have been able to command advertising premiums and the Super Bowl is an example (rates are up from last year).

But every day brings news of another video search/video sharing Web site.

How is all this viral video and fragmentation going to ultimately impact TV advertising and the targeting strategies that must emerge to compensate for loss of audience reach? For example, what will be the contextual match for two guys driving naked through the San Fernando Valley or someone bored in his cubicle at work or two drunk teenagers at a party? And what brand advertiser or local business will want to be associated with those streams? (12-step programs? Monster.com? The Gap?)

This is something we�ll be investigating at Drilling Down:

1,000,001 Channels: But Is Anybody Watching?
TV used to be simple for everyone. But the newly fragmenting world of video search, mobile TV, on-demand cable and IPTV makes the range of potential consumer choices staggering. What are the new technologies that are rapidly turning TV from a mass medium to one that is highly personalized? What is the new consumer �video consumption� model, and what are the implications for networks, content producers and advertisers? Will a million �Wayne�s Worlds� and the potential �Tower of Babel� effect destroy the medium for advertisers or open it up to a range of exciting new possibilities, including some for SMEs?

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  06:37 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 26 2006
Live Labs
It appears that everyone is the world of search is opening new labs. Google has been announcing new research labs here and there for the past several months; Yahoo! earlier this week announced research labs in Spain and Chile. And last night Microsoft announced that it was creating a new research group �Live Labs�:

MSN and Microsoft Research are creating a dedicated applied research division named Live Labs. Live Labs will be staffed by top researchers that will leverage the capabilities of MSN and Microsoft Research to work through prototyping new products and services. Microsoft will invite technologists and scientists to join the dedicated group. Live Labs will make it a priority to work in collaboration with academic researchers, industrial labs, government research labs and others and by offering opportunities for grants and fellowships to promote continued innovation in the industry.

This doesn�t have to do with local per se, but this Live Labs �beta� site has been set up to document or reflect the progress of various Windows Live initiatives. Each separate initiative has an associated blog (e.g., Windows Live Local blog).

There�s also something of a �culture shift� being undertaken in this effort. From the Live Labs �manifesto� by Gary William Flake, who�s in charge of the new effort:

Inline with our vision, Live Labs� near-term charter is to bootstrap a virtuous cycle in three parts: (1) empower Microsoft employees to more rapidly create great Internet technologies; (2) sponsor higher bandwidth exchanges of ideas and innovations between our internal partners, academia, and the Internet community; and (3) foster a community of people and projects which will inspire others to join us in this mission.

and

Ostensibly, the charter of Live Labs suggests a dilemma: How can we simultaneously be small and agile but also influential enough to have a meaningful impact? Indeed, this is a dilemma that all organizations face as they grow and mature. Our answer is embarrassingly simple: We are a perpetual startup within Microsoft . . .

There are a lot of elements that go into success (or failure) for a company and one of the underappreciated factors, in my view, is culture. And there�s an implied recognition in the manifesto that there needs to be some change within Microsoft for the company to more effectively compete online.

Here�s more from Search Engine Watch.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  06:09 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 25 2006
Classifieds TV: Interesting but Flawed
Late to the party on this one . . . but here�s a MediaPost story (reg. req�d) from Monday about the SF Chronicle (owned by Hearst) launching a cable TV show devoted to classifieds advertising, which will also be streamed on the SF Gate site.

Classifieds on �Chronicle Jobs TV� will be up to 30 seconds in length and will be divided into six categories: general, sales and marketing, professional, health care, skills and trades, and technology. In addition to appearing three consecutive days on the TV show, the ads will also be streaming at www.SFGate.com for a one-week period.

The show is being created by Digital Media Classifieds, a Denver-based company that makes customized TV programs as well as Internet videos for online and print publishers. Company founder Evan Neubeiser said at least 100 newspapers nationwide have similar TV shows, and that many of them go beyond recruitment advertising to include categories like automotive, real estate, and rentals. Among his larger newspaper clients, he said, are the Houston Chronicle, the Arizona Republic, and the Dallas Morning News.


In the broadest sense, this is in the same category as Spot Runner, bringing video distribution to local businesses. I like it as a unique offering but I think the cable TV piece is not what�s interesting and/or valuable about it. Rather the Web streaming is going to be far more potentially effective. The online distribution preserves the powerful �directional� aspect of classified advertising, whereas the cable TV version will dilute it somewhat.

If you can make the economics work then it makes sense to throw in the cable TV as well. But I don�t know who�s going to be watching those shows on conventional TV�it�s a lot less efficient for users than the Internet.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  18:00 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 25 2006
PEW: Internet Strengthening Social Nets
A new report from the good folks at the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that the Internet (and e-mail) are increasingly relied up to manage �offlline� social relations/networks and that, in addition, more and more people are relying on the Internet to help them in making major life (cycle) decisions:

45% of internet users � about 60 million Americans � say the internet has played an important or crucial role in helping them deal with at least one major life decision in the previous two years.

This sounds a lot like Yellow Pages historical behavior and confirms earlier findings by comScore about the connection between �life events� and online consumer patterns. Here�s an earlier post about the same phenomenon. And here�s a MediaPost article (reg. req�d) specifically about the now year-old comScore findings.

There�s probably lots of juicy stuff in the Pew report that I haven�t yet had time to digest. But the full report is available for download here.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  15:35 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 25 2006
NY Times Revenues/Subscribers Growing
The Internet Stock Blog has a summary of the NY Times earnings call (revenues up 30 percent in Q4)�there are lots of datapoints about traffic/users, etc. And the ranks/rolls of TimesSelect paying subscribers (I�m one) continues to grow. I was really skeptical at launch, but there seems to be some momentum (now 156K online only subs in 4 mos, 390K total)

The apparent success The Times is having in getting online only subscriptions is probably more a function of its brand strength and perceived unique content than a validation of the notion that online newspapers can charge for content. The Times is becoming much more than a �newspaper site� and doing lots of interesting things (especially with video).

Here�s the full earnings release .
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:55 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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