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Feb 9 2006
Eurekster and MyWeb 2.0.2 Part II
I met with Steven Marder this morning, CEO of Eurekster. These guys were way ahead of the "social search" curve but confused users and the marketplace with their early positioning. People saw them as a complicated Google/Yahoo! competitor.

They're really an enterprise search B2B play that offers site search and more contextually relevant Web search. "Contextual" here means relevant to the user population of the site (teens, moms, sports fans, etc.). They do that with clickstream analysis of aggregate user query behavior. Initially Web search is weighted according to specific business rules, but the engine learns what the group thinks is relevant to particular queries. It's a different relevance paradigm that gets "smarter" over time. But its nature, this is a vertical search engine par excellence.

They get paid on a PPC revenue sharing basis by including Google and/or Yahoo! paid results on search results pages of their publisher partners. And Eurekster has offerings for large publishers and small publishers (e.g., bloggers). The interface of the "buzz cloud" (now a "Web 2.0" standard) is also interesting as a visual search/browse (even advertising) tool.

Marder and I went into their roadmap a bit and there were some interesting possibilities on the advertiser side. He and I talked about local and its complexity, which is on their radar but not in the immediate future.

The "genius" of Eurekster is that it's passive, meaning the engine serves up progressively more relevant results (than general Web search) on the basis of communal search behavior -- without any effort on the part of users.

How does this relate to MyWeb? As Mike points out below, one might infer that MyWeb is growing slowly. One rumor behind the del.icio.us acquisition was that it wasn't about technology but about the gaining the large user community (and perhaps the talent behind it).

I'm a huge fan of MyWeb and use it daily. I find it incredibly useful, but I'm not a mainstream consumer. I'm motivated to use it. But it takes affirmative effort to save and tag the pages (not that much really, but some).

MyWeb, in addition to being a content repository, offers an alternative, human-edited index to Yahoo! search engine users (who are also MyWeb users). Eurekster does a very similar thing but in a way that is totally �passive� and invisible to the user (although it offers none of the "bookmarking" functionality).

Here are my MyWeb wishes:


  • A simpler way to create groups (maybe multiple groups) within MyWeb -- there's an enterprise application waiting to happen here.
  • A way to search within categories/tags for content. The more content you save (I have 1,239 items) the more unwieldy the thing becomes; this would help solve that and make it even more useful.


Despite all the �social bookmarking" buzz there�s a real question about whether sites like Wink and Kaboodle will catch on with mainstream users and become viable (which begs the question of what �viable� means in this context; maybe big enough to be acquired).

The shared knowledge of the community is clearly a powerful asset to these engines/applications. But they need to be very simple and intuitive in order to generate large-scale adoption among what you might call "non-early adopters."
_________

Here's more from the Yahoo! Search Blog.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  17:33 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



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 [0]



Feb 9 2006
AT&T Weighs in on Syndicated Research
AT&T Yellow Pages has contributed to the debate over syndicated research by releasing its own assessment of how it has done so far in its markets measured as part of the ongoing third-party syndicated usage program.

AT&T Yellow Pages (formerly SBC) is the world's largest Yellow Pages publisher, and it operates in major markets in the Midwest, Southwest and West Coast, including such large markets as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Detroit and Cleveland.

According to its press release, AT&T has garnered an average 72.5 percent share of the 26 Yellow Pages Market Reporter studies released so far covering its markets. We called AT&T to ask if they could share any specific examples. They declined, saying that level of detail is being reserved for CMRs and advertisers. Nonetheless, a company spokesman did say that the publisher has a "major usage leadership position, except in a handful of markets."

The AT&T release makes it the fourth publisher to issue a press release touting the outcome of the synidicated research. The others are Verizon Information Services, Yellow Book and Ambassador.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  15:30 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [10]



Feb 9 2006
Hicks Quick to Expand in Canada
Not long after completing its acquisition of Phone Directories' Canadian operations, U.S. buyout firm Hicks Muse is pushing an aggressive expansion into bigger Canadian markets.

Next week, Canadian Phone Directories, the Hicks-backed company led by industry veteran Olivier Vincent, will begin a sales canvass for a Vancouver, BC, phone book. The book will overlay four Yellow Pages Group directories in the city. Vincent told us the distribution will be about 700,000 and rates will be about half those of the largest of the competing YPG books.

Also, CPD will re-launch the Calgary book to give it more distribution and sales muscle. Vincent told us the new Calgary book will distribute 600,000 copies, compared with 350,000 before.

The Calgary and Vancouver directories will both publish in the fourth quarter of this year.

These two developments make it clear that CPD plans to invest in making a more serious competitive challenge to YPG, which is by far the largest incumbent in Canada, than the previous Phone Directories operation was able to do.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  14:52 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



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
Yell's Irritation Over Rate Cap Issue
Yell Group just posted solid numbers for the first nine months of its financial year, which ends on March 31. Its U.S. unit, Yellow Book, continues to post double digit gains, even when acquisitions are taken out of the picture. Results were also good in the U.K., where overall growth was 5.6 percent, and the IYP Yell.com continues to accelerate, growing at 62.4 percent.

The mixed blessing is that in the U.K. Yell faces a looming decision from the Competition Commission on whether to end, minimize, maintain or intensify the rate cap that Yell now operates under. The decision is expected in August, and last month, the commission issued a glimpse into its thinking that suggests its options may have narrowed to either maintaining or intensifying the rate cap.

Yell executives, understandably in our view, have not done very well at hiding their irritation. Yell issued a stinging rebuke of the commission's statement, and has refused to back off since.

The commission seems to think that it can will a share shift into existence by curtailing Yell's ability to raise prices. We think the commission has invoked the law of unintended consequences by forcing Yell to grow through innovation and improved service (both good outcomes), and it has also given the publisher a bit of good news to bring into sales calls each year ("Good morning, prices are lower again this year!").

Rather than accept that pricing intervention has failed because it is fundamentally wrong-headed, the commission seems to think it will work sooner or later if only it causes Yell enough pain.

We see the U.K. as a competitive market, with BT and Thomson competing for share, along with a smattering of other smaller players. Is Yell strong? Of course. In the U.S., its division Yellow Book has grown as a competitive publisher by exploiting a pricing umbrella. In the U.K., that umbrella has been all but folded up by the regulators, leaving competitors out in the wet.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  11:28 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [3]





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