Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Something So Wrong
If you ever had a hunch that there was something so wrong about CMGI, this Salon article, "How I Destroyed the New Economy," by a prescient laborer who worked on David Wetherell's lavish vacation home, should erase all doubt.
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Dude, I can't remember all those passwords without Gator
...and I'm too lazy to do anything about it.
Plus, what would I have to complain about then?
Hmm... how about the spam I just got for the popup killer software. Stop annoying pop-ups! Can they not see the annoying irony of the annoying crap that just popped up in my inbox?
Sunday, October 27, 2002
Remember my Gator article? :)
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Undead Pop-Up Still Haunts
Further to the last note, after clicking to close that popup ad from the butterfly people, a small bar reappears above my taskbar urging me to find out about new MSN 8.
Oh joy! It's a fun gag, like being at your birthday party with a cake and those magical candles that never blow out! Whee! Click. Gone, for now.
Gator + Microsoft + Somebody Else's Web Site = The Evil Axis of Advertising
I'm checking my Yahoo! Mail (well actually, trying to log in), when Gator's good old GAIN scumware pops up an ad for one of Yahoo's competitors. "It's better with the butterfly. MSN 8."
I expect to drift off to sleep tonight with pleasant visions of butterflies and rainbows... until the part where Hannibal Lecter comes trick-or-treating to my front door disguised in a Bill Gates mask.
InternetNews.com runs a story quoting Google CEO Eric Schmidt's comment that "it's important the advertising model doesn't scare the user."
Notice anything strange with that story, like for example those huge skyscraper ads in either margin? No wonder consumers find Google a breath of fresh air.
Sunday, October 20, 2002
It all makes sense now
Addictive interactive gaming like this is just another reason why companies like Yahoo! will be solidly profitable over the next ten years.
Back when we played computer games without 'Net connections, I and numerous friends got hooked on "the heroin of strategy games," Sid Meier's
Civilization (the original). It appears that something called Civilization III is now on offer, in an interactive broadband environment. For me, the time came to put away childish things, so I don't "game" much anymore. But I'm pretty sure that a new generation of addicts will fill the void.
(Did you think we named this web site Traffick by accident?)
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Pay-per-click text links could reduce content publishers' reliance on banners
Wouldn't it be neat if Moreover could find a way to monetize its free-access public news syndication - yes, the money-losing side of their biz.
Pages like this, from my perspective as a content publisher, are way too empty of advertising, considering how targeted they are:
I think readers would rather see the sites which offer these news feeds stay in business with some small paid text link advertisements when the alternative is popups, skyscapers, and other intrusive junk.
I imagine that a Moreover-Google AdWords partnership (or Moreover-Overture or Moreover-Findwhat) might be a win-win-win scenario, though I suppose this would be "coopetition" in Google's case, since Google is very big on its new "news" service.
Monday, October 14, 2002
How pleasant to see the special logo (a maple leaf, a pumpkin, corn on the cob, and something that looks like an apple) at Google.ca celebrating Thanksgiving Day here in Canada.
MSN 8 and AOL 8: Who Cares?!
It's that time again. Microsoft and AOL are both due to release version 8 of their online services this week. Every time they launch a new version of their proprietary online services, they both tout the new releases as groundbreaking, revolutionary, exciting and so on. Nothing could be further from the truth, IMO.
No matter how many new features they build in, these services always seem to be a few years behind the technology available to users of the "independent" Internet. I mean, when's the last time a cool, new feature was first available from MSN or AOL? Hmm, ummm, wait, uhhh... Exactly.
These services always play catch-up because they cater to the mass market of uneducated people who don't understand the Internet unless it is spoon-fed to them by a shady corporate giant that revels in telling their uses how to use the Internet. If I didn't have my beloved cable modem from Charter Communications, and I couldn't get DSL, I would sure as hell never subscribe to MSN or AOL. Maybe Earthlink, but not the Big 2.
Speaking of Earthlink, I can see them becoming a much bigger player in years to come. It's the only large national ISP that doesn't force you into a proprietary system, and it has a good reputation. It's about time they parlay that advantage into higher subscriber numbers. I don't know why they aren't doing it yet, but now that AOL is on the ropes, it's an opportune time to eat away at Steve Case's user base.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
Search Results Everywhere!
Grabby, grabby, grabby. There must be an awful lot of money up for grabs all of a sudden in the pay-per-click advertising space. I did a search for "No Doubt" while enjoying Yahoo Radio. I was only a little bit surprised to see the page of different items include a sponsor matches section at the bottom - with the usual Overture results. I was considerably more surprised to see a popup of Lycos Search results - which also contain Overture search results as well as the regular Lycos (FAST) index - appear in a new window. These were generated by Gator. It seems that Gator and Overture are working overtime to ensure that consumers typing keyword searches get to see as many sponsored listings as possible. Dueling pay-per-click search results! What will they think of next? Anyway, back to listening to the tunes.
"Concern" Over Yahoo is Wall Street Hooey
Today Yahoo stock is up significantly on news of surging revenues and profitability. One analyst says that as far as he is concerned, Yahoo is restored to full health.
But other analysts remain very, very concerned about Yahoo's future. After all, Yahoo isn't allowed to turn a profit. Yahoo is evil (hey, I even wrote that myself). Haven't we all learned that companies like this are stupid? (We never bought that line, but that doesn't stop the Wall Street pundits and their journalistic handmaidens from selling this orthodoxy.)
Here's a good one: one of the concerns about Yahoo - which has now driven advertising down to only 60% of its total revenue base with the introduction of a raft of fee-based services - is that most of this growth in revenue is coming from "new business areas."
Isn't that what you're supposed to do? Find new business areas? And if they're so new, aren't these the types of areas that can sustain 50-100% growth rates for the first two or three years?
Who knows why analysts say the things they do. No doubt there are a few firms caught with nasty short positions in Yahoo. Good luck!
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
Yahoo Renews with Google
It seems that Yahoo has decided to stay with Google to provide search results, but it has made substantial changes to the way it presents results.
It's also the case that the partnership is non-exclusive. Inktomi claims they are still in talks with Yahoo.
Yahoo! Confounds Analysts by Turning a Profit
Yahoo? Profitable? Upping guidance for 2003? How is this possible?
Who cares, as long as it's possible.
Shareholders, at the very least, are happy they won't have to wallpaper their homes with Yahoo! shares.
$1 billion a year in revenue is a big number by any measure. It becomes a much more impressive number when it's accompanied by solid profitability.
Tuesday, October 08, 2002
LookSmart's Wisenut is back on Infospace's metasearch properties. They had been temporarily been removed, reportedly because Wisenut could not adequately handle the search volume generated by the partnership. In short, if you have a small business listing on LookSmart, it means your result is likely to show up on Metacrawler, Dogpile, Excite Search, and Webcrawler.
Monday, October 07, 2002
Paid Inclusion Annoyances
So, I finally emerged from my state of denial about having to pay to get into many search engines, and I bit the bullet. I paid for inclusion for Vino.com, the fine wine portal that I co-created, in the following engines:
1. Ask Jeeves (Supposedly the No. 2 search engine now?)
2. Inktomi (Not as important as it once was, but still worth doing thanks to its MSN connection)
3. AltaVista (Egads, does anyone use AV anymore? My server logs say no, but that could just be due to the way outdated listing that Vino.com had)
All of these services, except Jeeves, say that your site will be indexed within 24-72 hours of payment, but I'm certain it took longer than that for all of them. Inktomi was nice enough to notify me when the site was indexed, but I didn't hear a peep from AltaVista.
AltaVista's registration process is annoying, too, for many reasons mainly related to billing procedures. I chose to use the ineedhits.com service for Jeeves and Inktomi since they manage the programs for both engines, and it's nice to be consistent for ease of maintenance.
There seems to be a lag time between the moment a site is included in its index and the time that the site shows up in MSN, HotBot, etc. And speaking of HotBot, I don't even think Inktomi is feeding them at all. I can find Vino.com in it, but other sites that I paid for are nowhere to be found there. Is Inktomi still supplying listings to HotBot? If not, Inktomi had better remove them from their partners page.
The ineedhits.com reporting system seems OK, but I'll be damned if I could find traffic reporting figures in the AltaVista program. Also, it would be nice to get e-mail notifications from all of the engines when a newly indexed site is successfully syndicated on partner sites.
All in all, I'm fairly disappointed with these paid inclusion programs. They just don't seem to be ready for prime time. But, if the results are good, I won't complain too much. The costs are relatively cheap, and you pretty much have to buck up if you want to keep pace with your competitors. But, then there's the annual fees! Argh.....
I Went on Down to the Google Store, and...
I'm crying the blues tonight after trying to buy green, yellow, and yes, blue Google pens online at the Google Store. You know, the ones shaped like lava lamps that all my family want to receive as stocking stuffers this year. Seems they've outsourced the order fulfilment to UPS - nothing wrong with that of course. Unfortunately, I found out that to ship three pens ($9.95 each) would cost $40 because I'm an "international" customer and UPS super-fast delivery is mandatory for "international" customers. Hey Google/UPS, you know it really doesn't take a lot of effort to ship stuff to Canada via regular mail for about two bucks. They're pens! This $30 order just turned into a $70 order.
Not to worry, though, I plan to sidle down to the Google Canada sales office on King Street here in Toronto and ask for a "tour of the office supplies area."
Of course, it's international shipping issues such as this that caused Amazon to finally open Amazon.ca, which will make some serious waves in the local bookseller market in the next five years. Amazon.ca has all of its delivery done by Canada Post Corporation - which it would have done in any case, probably, but they've signed a special partnership of some kind. The formerly plain red and white mail trucks now have huge Amazon.ca ads on the side. Cool! Who said the dotcom halcyon years were over?
Now if Google would just open up a nice "Google.ca store" - complete with, say, a nice partnership with the UPS folks here, everyone would be happy. I think those brown UPS trucks are long overdue for an update - perhaps a nice, big, colorful Google ad...
Or how about this? Google could sell its stuff on Amazon!
Thursday, October 03, 2002
Don't Get Me Wrong: Some of My Best Friends Read Slashdot
Two of my closest pals - who happen to be a bit obsessed with certain technical matters - both told me that Slashdot is actually much more readable than most similar forums because the customizable noise filter encourages the better posts to filter to the top. (I think I read it before the filtering had happened.)
Anyway, obviously it's people like those prolific Slashdot posters that make all this stuff tick. When I say "all this stuff," I mean the hardware and software and graphics that make what you're doing today possible. Time to give some random credit to two developer types who just helped my day go a lot better today.
A programmer named Andy McFadden, on his own time, has given the world this incredible Usenet FAQ about rewritable CD's. Truly helpful.
And I can't help but mention this handy new HTML editor I came across. I've been a user of Allaire Homesite for some time, but I don't really need all of its features, since I am truly a "lite" coder generally operating within the confines of a CMS of some sort. The creator of Homesite, Nick Bradbury now has his own independent product called TopStyle. The trial version offers 25 uses. And they even have a "lite" version that is always free. I've been through numerous lite HTML editors on this quest, and haven't liked any of them very much. I'm glad I found this one. Those of us in the intermediate-web-page-creation camp who need a great web page creation tool, who don't want something that holds their hand too much or has way too many features, shouldn't have to use Notepad!!
It should be mentioned that Bradbury is advertising TopStyle using Google AdWords Select - and I probably would have been less likely to find him if he hadn't been. Who says people don't click on these ads?
Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Just Shoot Me: I've Been Cited on Slashdot
You really don't want one of your articles to be cited on Slashdot.
My editorial "An End to Metatags" - which, incidentally, received a favorable note from SE guru Danny Sullivan in this month's Search Engine Report - was the subject of the usual interminable Slashdot discussion.
I'm grateful to the 5% of posters who actually gave me some credit for having half a brain and actually reading my articles. The rest, however, chose to ignore what I wrote. One developer said that metatags are still useful for purposes like refreshes. Yes, to be sure, and because I was specifically referring to keyword and description metatags, I concluded my second article with: "Metatags as we know them today - I refer specifically to the meta keyword and meta description tags inserted into the head of an HTML document - don't factor into this future." Did I say anything about freakin' meta refresh tags?
I also made the point that metadata is useful in closed, less-spoofable environments, and for the purposes of site search and corporate intranet info retrieval. Didn't matter, Slashdot's resident geniuses felt compelled to explain all of that to me as well. You have to laugh! The only other place you can go to have your work so wildly mistreated is to an academic conference. Unlike Slashdotters, though, academics have read more than a paragraph of something or other, even if not the work they're currently criticizing.
I hereby sentence Slashdotters to present their latest beta to an unreceptive crowd at the next annual meeting of the Society for Postmodern Dog Semiotics.
Google's Canadian Sales Office Makes the (Google) News
Today Google announced the appointment of Wendy Mueller as Head of Canadian Advertising and Sales. It's a big day for Google in Canada, with VP of Advertising Tim Armstrong slated to give the keynote address to the Canadian Marketing Association conference in Toronto.
Mike Mayzel of Google was nice enough to introduce me to Wendy Mueller this morning. One of the first things she asked me was what I thought of the new Google News Search. This reminded me that I really should have a closer look at this. Many industry oldtimers, me included, probably have mixed feelings on the new offering, since pioneers like Moreover have contributed so much on this front ... will Google take over everything? But the bottom line of course is performance. Does this tool do the trick? And just as important, will it catch on with the mainstream of well-educated users?
The answer is without a doubt yes on both counts. Like FAST and Moreover, Google News scans thousands of topical sources and brings up recent relevant headlines. I don't know if I'm qualified to to a head-to-head comparison. All three work very well and have similar features.
I tried a search of "Google Canada" to see if today's "Toronto PR day" was already showing up in the results. So far, only one story introducing Ms. Mueller as head of the Canadian sales operation. By tomorrow, Google hopes, items from the National Post, Globe and Mail, and marketing industry publications will also show up here.
I would like to see either Google or Moreover make a stronger contribution to My Yahoo! since that's the tool I use for daily news. My Yahoo! offers a range of news sources, but compared with the state of the art, it seems like a bit of a fossil.
Tuesday, October 01, 2002
Paid Inclusion Murk, Continued
Stefanie Olsen, CNET, tells the AltaVista story better than I can.
AltaVista: Trusted Feed Does NOT Guarantee Higher Rankings
AltaVista got back to me yesterday to clarify their position. Their PR rep, Joanne Sperans Hartzell, issued a statement, part of which read:
AltaVista does not promise preferential placement nor guarantee higher inclusion in the index to participants in either its Express Inclusion or Trusted Feed programs. As is the case with other search engine inclusion programs, participation in AltaVista's inclusion programs simply guarantees frequent spidering and inclusion in the index -- not position.
Inclusion participants' sites may be spidered more frequently in order toensure that they are included in the global index, but this does not ensure higher placements. Any claims to the contrary are erroneous. AltaVista regrets any miscommunications made about its policies, and is taking action to ensure that no such future claims are made on the company's behalf. We greatly appreciate your notifying us of your experience so that we can address the matter. We have determined the source of this misinformation and are taking appropriate action to ensure that no such misrepresentation be repeated. The person who contacted you was new to selling this service, and apparently misunderstood the weighting process used to rank data sources where there are no links from other sites (one of the factors in our relevancy algorithm).
AltaVista has done the right thing and made their policy crystal clear. But one is still left to wonder what might have transpired if this double message had not been challenged. It's easy enough to toggle between a formal policy and a wink-wink actual policy, depending on who you're talking to. As one industry watcher had to say:
"AV can clarify all they want, but someone is lying to someone. Wouldn't surprise me if trusted feed DID actually get a boost.
"I can picture this:
"3 people in the room...AV sales rep, trusted feed potential customer, reporter.
"AV rep says to reporter, 'oh no, there's no boost in the rankings!'
"Reporter turns his/her head for a moment, and AV rep winks to the potential client and nods head up and down as if to say, 'yes, there really is, but you know we have to keep those reporters at bay.'
"I'm sure that's the TRUE story."
Paid inclusion is inherently ambiguous. On one hand, those offering it never formally guarantee higher rankings. On the other hand, corporate clients are more likely to pay for inclusion if they read between the lines and think that they're going to get a boost in rankings. How many companies truly feel it's worth paying fo "regular respidering"? Regular respidering and 1.65 will get you a tall Kenya blend at Starbucks. Paying advertisers generally need quantifiable streams of qualified traffic, not vague stuff like "inclusion." So if someone in the sales force comes up with the bright idea of *implying* that you get higher rankings for participating in the Trusted Feed program... well you can see how tempting it might be to just look the other way.
Anyway, AltaVista, good job on 'fessing up.
Danny Sullivan offers his quick take here at Search Engine Watch.
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