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Mar 22 2006
Skyhook Wireless Offers Loki Local Toolbar
If you want to see something pretty cool, go to Loki.com and download Shyhook Wireless' new Local Search toolbar. It's the first toolbar built around Local and it's got a bunch of really useful features:

  • It can automatically locate your position so you don't need to enter it when doing a search (you can change locations too)
  • It's got lots of local content "channels" (bookmarks) to quickly navigate to local news, shopping, mapping, restaurants, movies, wi-fi hotspots, traffic, etc. And those content channels can be personalized and expanded by users
  • You can set a preferred mapping provider so any lookups send you to either Yahoo!, Google, Ask or A9 maps.
  • Through an email button you can share your location with others
Loki offers a kind of metasearch for local. I haven't fully explored all it's capabilities, but it's the first new toolbar in a long while that justifies its existence. Certain of the features are "power user" tools but that doesn't deprive it of being valuable to consumers generally.

Approximately 12% of Web search (according to comScore) happens through a toolbar. Everyone expects that number to grow over time.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  18:25 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 22 2006
Local Matters Moving Toward IPO
Here's the press release.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  18:18 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 22 2006
More Publisher vs. Aggregator Drama
Cairo is a local shopping aggregator, which was crawling ShopLocal's content as one of its sources. ShopLocal sued and yesterday a settlement was announced:

Cairo agreed to an order of the court preventing it from making further robotic or other automated access to ShopLocal's computers or websites, and Cairo has acknowledged ShopLocal's proprietary rights in its content.

This dispute is reminiscent of the flap that broke out between Craigslist and Oodle (not trying to suggest any legal analogy between the two situations). As I wrote before:

Ultimately there�s a longer, larger and more nuanced debate here about who owns the content, what is factual, what is proprietary and who has the right to publish it. The US Supreme Court case Feist v. Rural is the arguably �controlling authority� but it has yet to be tested in an Internet context. We may soon see one.

Quotes from Feist:

[F]acts are not copyrightable ... compilations of facts generally are. ... Factual compilations ... may possess the requisite originality. The compilation author typically chooses which facts to include, in what order to place them, and how to arrange the collected data so that they may be used effectively by readers. These choices as to selection and arrangement, so long as they are made independently by the compiler and entail a minimal degree of creativity, are sufficiently original that Congress may protect such compilations through the copyright laws. [citation omitted] Thus, even a directory that contains absolutely no protectible written expression, only facts, meets the constitutional minimum for copyright protection if it features an original selection or arrangement.

This protection is subject to an important limitation. The mere fact that a work is copyrighted does not mean that every element of the work may be protected. Originality remains the sine qua non of copyright; accordingly, copyright protection may extend only to those components of a work that are original to the author.

And ...

... [C]opyright in a factual compilation is thin. Notwithstanding a valid copyright, a subsequent compiler remains free to use the facts contained in another�s publication to aid in preparing a competing work, so long as the competing work does not feature the same selection and arrangement.

So ...

While one could forcefully argue that a search algorithm is proprietary and thus search results are a proprietary �compilation of facts,� could a site or search engine crawl/scrape another�s index, make some minor changes in the presentation of results and be perfectly legal in doing so?

It�s a provocative and as yet unresolved question.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  10:50 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 22 2006
Online Shopping, Offline Conversions
Study after study confirms what we've known for a long long time: that consumers do research online but make the overwhelming majority of purchases offline. This article in MediaPost, profiling a study done by comScore for Google, offers yet more evidence. From the comScore press release:

comScore Networks today released results from a new research study that confirms the importance of search in influencing offline buying. The results show that 25 percent of searchers purchased an item directly related to their query, and that of those buyers, 37 percent completed their purchase online. An even greater 63 percent completed a purchase offline following their search activity.

The study, sponsored by Google, entitled �The Role of Search in Consumer Buying� examined the impact of Web search (excluding comparison shopping sites) on consumers� holiday-related purchases completed online and offline during November and December 2005, across 11 product categories. The study reflects the searching behavior of 83 million Americans who conducted more than 552 million searches in the categories analyzed using one or more of the 24 leading search engines.


The emphasis in this release and in the article partly obscures something more profound. Note that only a minority (25%) of search engine users purchased something directly after a query. What about the 75% who did not? Their behavior is much more elusive; and at the end of some probably convoluted research process they're equally going to a physical store to make a purchase. All this confirms -- I've written about this many times in the past -- that calling search a "direct response" medium doesn't really capture the nature of how consumers interact with it.

These data and the results of other studies confirm both a potential ROI calculation challenge (in figuring out how to think about paid search spending) as well as a more fundamental tracking challenge. The behavior of that 75% is mostly invisible to marketers, but it may be equally influenced by search and/or other online media. We'll be talking about these and other issues related to online shopping and offling buying behavior next week on the panel:

The New �Purchase Funnel�: Online Shopping, Offline Conversions
Even though e-commerce may have reached US$90 billion in 2005, it represents just 2.5 percent of total U.S. retail. Yet the Internet is having a growing influence over offline consumer behavior. What is the precise nature of this new purchase funnel? Where do consumers start, and where do they typically end up online before buying offline? Is paid search truly a direct response medium? What categories of sites are the most effective sources of offline conversions? Will we see more search/shopping engines add local inventory information this year? These and other relevant questions will be explored in depth.

Kendall Fargo, CEO, StepUp Commerce, Inc.
Brian Hand, CEO, ShopLocal.com
Catherine Kelly, Chief Technology Officer, HarvestINFO
John Kim, Sr. Director, Advertiser Product Marketing, Yahoo! Search Marketing
John Melideo, CEO, Jambo
Rob Wight, CEO, Channel Intelligence
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  10:07 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 21 2006
Net Neutrality and AT&T
AT&T Chairman Ed Whitacre seems to be intent upon pursuing access fees for high-bandwidth sites/networks. This article discussing his keynote at the TelecomNEXT show in Las Vegas quotes him as dismissing the torrent of criticism that has come his way on the issue.

Net Neutrality will be one of the themes we explore on the broadband panel next week. My personal view is that any attempt to impose such fees will boomerang, if it's not blocked as a condition of the merger or via other regulatory initiatives (e.g., US Senator Ron Wyden's bill).
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  19:33 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 21 2006
Social Networks and the Elusive Marketer
Here's a Hollywood Reporter piece about the challenges of social networks (a lot of rehash but a good general overview). The new bit is the mention of GoingOn (we did a quick post in July), which is a social networking "aggregator," in the same way that Meebo tries to give you one log-in for multiple IM memberships. And here's a piece in today's MediaPost (reg. req'd) that shows large marketers have been scared away from MySpace by the bad PR:

Of six panelists [on a panel at the "Revolutin in Television" conference in N.Y.] representing major advertisers and ad agencies, not a single one advertised with MySpace or other social networking sites. Reasons for avoiding MySpace include concern about its potential for criminal use, especially given recent well-publicized reports about sexual predators searching for victims on the site, as well as fears that user-generated content�including pictures and text with sexual overtones�will be offensive.

"I wouldn't be caught dead in that kind of environment," said David Cohen, executive vice president for Universal McCann Interactive, with a client roster including Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Lowe's Home Improvement, Wendy's International, and Sony Electronics. "You only have to look around for five or 10 minutes to find something offensive."

Dawn Hudson, president and CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America, echoed this sentiment, saying she was "interested" in sites like MySpace that feature user-generated content, but "we're being cautious because there's a blurring between advertising and content, and the content does rub off on your brand."
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  11:10 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 21 2006
Microsoft and Vexcel
According to this piece from CNET, Microsoft is seeking to buy Vexcel. This deal appears to be about a range of things all of which point to enhanced mapping (including 3-D mapping), which is where Erik Jorgenson said (at last fall's ILM:05) Microsoft was headed.

There's a ton of horsepower in this company and, if the deal is approved, it appears Microsoft will be getting a lot more than simply some mapping graphics capabilities.

Google recently purchased a company called @Last Software, which has a 3-D modeling tool/application SketchUp.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  10:43 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 21 2006
Google Finance Launches
Google Finance, an impressive collection of tools, news and resources, was supposed to launch at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday. However, it's 12:27 and the site isn't yet up. Because I only got a sneak peek and wasn't able to "play" with it, it's not entirely clear to me how it lines up against other competitive sites (all the other portals have well-established finance sites). But from what I saw, it did appear to have some impressive and very useful features and I'm sure it will be a popular vertical within Google. (One can do portfolio tracking, for example.) And given Google's enormous traffic, the site should get immediate traction.

The idea is that users will search for a ticker symbol or other finance-related query on Google.com and be given a link to Google Finance, as well as other financial sites (just like mapping today). Then users will enter Google Finance, which is a very rich, structured environment put together from a combination of crawling and feeds from content partners. There appeared to be an enormous amount of content, from what I saw. And one thing that was particularly interesting is how Google links news to the fluctuation of share prices (actually plotting them on a graph). That's a great feature that has to be seen to be appreciated. The site will be a valuable resource for individual investors and analysts.

It's also interesting as part of the "verticalization of Google," as the company builds out specific user experiences around particular content areas to create more value for users and, ultimately, advertisers.

As is typically the case with Google beta products, there are no immediate monetization plans. But expect that it will be another source of valuable ad inventory for Google. Even though the company has said no graphical/display ads will run on Google domain sites, this would be a perfect area for rich media and graphical ads (like on Yahoo! Finance). And advertisers, I'm sure, would welcome that option too. We'll see.

According to comScore, Yahoo! Finance is the No. 1 global finance site with 31.4 million uniques. MSN's Money is second with 21.9 million, and AOL's finance site has 14.3 million global uniques. It will be interesting to see if Google's brand and traffic will enable it to grab usage from the existing leaders. As a latecomer, Google has a mixed track (traffic/usage) record in other areas, such as mail and shopping. But it has had great success with Maps and Local, for example.

More later when the site actually goes live. I believe the URL will be http://finance.google.com/.

_________

Update: I just found a working URL. Here's the page for GOOG. I'm reminded that it also includes blog content, which is valuable. Manipulate the chart's horizontal scroll bar and see how the news changes � very interesting stuff. The site also remembers your most recent (company) searches. And it has discussions/community as well. These kinds of features make it "sticky" (to use the outdated expression).

Here's a plethora of news on the launch, with lots of detail from Danny Sullivan at SEW. And Battelle adds some interesting color and factual tidbits. Om Malik doesn't like it at all.

Tomorrow you'll be able to go to Google Finance and see how all the coverage boosted the company's share price. Neat, eh?
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  00:12 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]





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