Traffick - The Business of Search Engines & Web Portals
Blog Categories (aka Tags) Archive of Traffick Articles Our Internet Marketing Consulting Services Contact the Traffickers Traffick RSS Feed

Saturday, December 11, 2004

What's a Media Company, Anyway?

Google will, it seems, forever be judged by the standards of the companies they've surpassed.

An otherwise entertaining post about the Google Xmas party by FT writer Tom Foremski concludes with: " Google, there are NO media professionals! They’ve done well so far, no one would disagree, but can computer engineers grow a media business? This could be Google’s Achilles’ heel."

Yep, that's what Google needs right now -- to bring in some "media people" so they can build a worse GMail product, a worse local search product, a worse version of Google Groups...

We've heard the argument time and again. An interesting Fortune article by Fred Vogelstein back in March, "Bringing Up Yahoo," talked about that company's CEO, Terry Semel, "writing an old-media script to grow a new media darling." At the time I remember seriously questioning just how much money the "media schmoozing" really made for Yahoo given their ongoing heavy reliance on income from search advertising and the technology underlying this.

Around the same time, Charlene Li, the Forrester analyst, critiqued Google for its "deep-seated cultural focus on search." (This criticism leveled at a search engine company!! Apparently the New York Times has a deep-seated cultural focus on newspapers. And Tiger Woods is really zoned in on the golf thing. And McDonald's on burgers. Yeah, they've got salads now. This salad experiment is going well in part because to sell the burgers, McD's built the drive-thrus and trained the staff and designed the processes and .... hmmm, sort of like the way Google designed the computing power to serve the search....)

I humbly submit that there are a lot of ways to make money from technology. And plenty of ways to rake in the bucks in the vast advertising industry. Just as one ho-hum example, a diversified old-school mogul from Western Canada, Jimmy Pattison, makes a lot of money from billboards.

Now maybe I'm just not imaginative enough and I need to be more worried about these players' financial health lest they not behave like somebody's caricature of a media titan. Perhaps Jimmy Pattison needs to swear more. Maybe the incredibly successful Thomson family should go rabidly insane and steal shareholders' dough, like Conrad Black (makes for better front-page stories). And perhaps Page, Brin, Rosing, Schmidt, and co. really need to turn the Google Show into Cirque de Soleil.

But I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that they'll just keep doing what they're doing, which is to focus on building search and related services that don't drive the user crazy. And that the "media" business will continue to be transformed in part due to the influence of those schmoozeless nerds at Big G.

Remember Lotta "media" folks involved there. And....?

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

Subscribe: RSS/XML | +My Yahoo | +Newsgator | +Bloglines | +Rojo


Friday, December 10, 2004

Not So Fast, McBain

Want people to search for you? Make sure your name is easy to spell.

Doing a little keyword research, I found that people search for "Martha Stewart" about 66X more often than they search for "Arnold Schwarzenegger." Does this mean the detained duvet diva is 66X more popular than the guttural governor? I doubt it.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

Subscribe: RSS/XML | +My Yahoo | +Newsgator | +Bloglines | +Rojo


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Click Fraud: The "Biggest Threat"

Regardless of what its measurable impact may be, the issue of click fraud is certainly making headlines. This article on CNN even quotes Google CFO George Reyes as saying click fraud “potentially… threatens our business model” and therefore needs to be eradicated “really, really quickly.”

By the sound of this article, Google only recently identified click fraud as an issue - and most publications certainly didn't pick up on the problem until this year. This is interesting, given Pay-Per-Click search engines have refunded fraudulent clicks for years; perhaps Google is taking advantage of the recent hype?

The real problem with fraudulent clicks to date has been informing advertisers of when they occur. Few (if any) Pay Per Click engines offer a transparent method for identifying fraudulent clicks and providing refunds. If something needs to be done really, really quickly by engines like Google, it’s implementing a system that can identify fake clicks and dispense refunds accordingly. They won’t catch everything, but it would certainly be a start.

Posted by Adam | | | Permalink

Subscribe: RSS/XML | +My Yahoo | +Newsgator | +Bloglines | +Rojo


Danny's in Playboy

(via Kraneland via Beal): Danny Sullivan gets a letter published in Playboy. This notion of reviving the professionally-edited human-powered directory that he puts forward in stark contrast to the machine-powered profit-machine model of Google Search seems quaint, but really, it's a good idea. The lack of a definitive directory or two is the single biggest glaring hole in online search.

A couple of years ago on a forum connected with dubbed 'The Other Directory Project' (it crumbled into flamewars, unfortunately), some directory diehards debated different principles that should be adopted by the Next Great Directory. Steve Thomas of Wherewithal, for example, argued that directories face a "fixed ontology problem," and that a future directory would offer a way to make the categories definable by users and editors alike. That's probably too complicated. Still, there are many components to the challenge of creating a great general-purpose directory, and in the rush through Internet time, how many have them have really been considered carefully? The job of Yahoo Editor changed significantly the day they turned to paid inclusion. Same goes for LookSmart.

I would cheer for something a little like what LookSmart tried to be at the beginning before aimless drifting, rapid expansionism, biz-model sellouts, and management squabbles. In those optimistic days, was thinking of jumping into the fray. It still could. Problem is, who's gonna fund that? A major media company or the government would need to underwrite it. And the definition of professionalism in editing would need to be upped a couple of notches in strictitude.

I wouldn't want to misunderestimate the challenge a new online directory would face. In light of the business realities of online search, it all sounds rather quirky, I know. The type of thing that might appeal to a PBS listener or National Geographic photographer. But as any Playboy reader or letter-writer might say, "Hey, I'm a Renaissance man." Human editorial organizations in the image of Early Yahoo and Middle LookSmart will have their day.

The BBC-recommended concept isn't a terrible example, come to think of it. It gets very little attention. Certain media organizations are trusted, and have at times lent their editorial review powers to the web. With metadata and authorized access only by accredited members of these organizations, a smart search engine such as Google or MSN Search could incorporate such recommendations into the results; even label them with icons that would lead to reviewer comments. In this way, search listings would be richer and more context-backed rather than just being rank-ordered lists daring you to question their authority. The reviewer recommendations wouldn't have to be seen as definitive, but rather just another source of information. And the entire database of recommendations could indeed be dumped into a categorized directory. Welcome back to dmoz, minus the intrigue and corruption.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

Subscribe: RSS/XML | +My Yahoo | +Newsgator | +Bloglines | +Rojo


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

"Effective" Ads Can Alienate Users

I can't recall Jakob Nielsen ever using the phrase "worst scum" in a column before, as he does in warning publishers about the negative impacts of pop-ups, audio ads, mouseover ads, and other shifty forms of creative.

"Worst scum" is not quite as damning as my "festering pustule-ware" used to describe a certain brand of adware, but as we all know, Jakob is subtle.

The point is well taken: purveyors of intrusive formats will often point to their short-term effectiveness (high clickthrough rates, for example). But by bothering everyone with ads that 90% of the population viscerally despises, short-term "effectiveness" can lead to a loss of trust and erosion of one's brand.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

Subscribe: RSS/XML | +My Yahoo | +Newsgator | +Bloglines | +Rojo


Monday, December 06, 2004

Should Google Be Competing with its Advertisers? (If So, How Much?)

A few tidbits for today...

* Google Ads on Google. I just typed the phrase "flight tracker" into Google, and saw Google promoting its own flight tracking service in the top sponsored listing position (the good spot, at the top of the page). Seems as if Google is doing more and more of this. But doesn't that make it harder for advertisers to get average ad positions beginning with a "1"? I tell you, when you keep upping your bid and optimizing your ad, and keep seeing "2.0" instead of, say, "1.7," it can get pretty discouraging. Given that Google doesn't bother us with all sorts of offline promo claptrap, I do think it's fair the way they gently self-promote their various search features. You have to get the word out somehow. But I hope they have serious discussions about the damage this might be doing to advertisers in those particular areas. I hardly think that some company advertising on the term "flight tracker" would have expected itself to be in competition with Google and therefore deserving of a gentle slap upside the head. Is Google going to become one of those companies that sees itself in competition with just about everyone?

* Forget Jennicam, Here's Weather Guy! As a weather freak, I often have to control the impulse to post stuff like this. But it's hard to hold back what with the flurry of discussion on weather feeds by all sorts of XML, SOAP, RSS, and other major acronymic tech experts. These folks are saying a lot of interesting things, but one thing they're missing is the major transformation in how we'll soon be gathering the underlying data that count as "the weather." I for one simply cannot stand the wildly inaccurate temperature readings (usually about an hour out of date, moreover) you get on the radio (but the web is just as bad, as the source is an official government weather station)... in Toronto, you often get the main weather reading at Pearson airport (the forecast is always "windy and treeless today, with intermittent loud screaming sounds"), plus some inaccurate station they stick out of their office tower downtown. Sometimes you'll hear some mention of cooler or warmer air near the lake. The reality is, you have gusty winds, all sorts of microclimates, and major variation in temperature in any place that is near a major body of water. And if you're a weather freak, that just won't do. When weather data are drawn from thousands of uplinked personal weather stations owned by weather freaks like me, the weather reports will actually be accurate and useful to your situation. It really doesn't help me a lot to hear that a thunderclap passed by about an hour ago in upper Scarberia when I'm sitting here in lower Humberama. Temperature, precipitation, air quality readings, humidity, wind speed... you name it, I can't wait to upload it. And then there's my other project, relating to water quality... but that's another fish to fry...

* Not Da Bomb. Deutsche Bank, one of the underwriters, goes and initiates coverage on with a "sell." Ouch. I think it's an honest assessment, though. The company is a huge risk because it is competing with powerful conglomerates that they rely on to some extent for referral traffic. One other point that gets overlooked is that and EBay, while not considered "meta shopping engines," increasingly are this. But they do it with the backing of huge resources, an existing loyal customer base, and cool search and personalization features that make the sites easy to use., unless it can figure out its unique role in this economy, is basically looking to be acquired. They had better not waste too much time deciding. Some others, like Bizrate (now Shopzilla) may fare better if they pay attention to developing original content (reviews) that find a happy place as underlying data for their portal competitors. For consumers, trust and ease of use (and an apparent decrease, not increase, in bewildering options) will win out. It continues to look to me as if Amazon is occupying the space that some of the shopping engines want to occupy. And now that they have solid earnings, there seems to be no stopping Amazon. I do think there will be spaces for dozens of interesting plays in the "consumer reviews and ratings" arena. The key word is "interesting." Some of these things just catch on and spread. No use predicting how or why, as I'd probably be wrong. I mean what the heck was eBay anyway?

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

Subscribe: RSS/XML | +My Yahoo | +Newsgator | +Bloglines | +Rojo


Sunday, December 05, 2004

Don't Call it a Comeback...

An early beta of the new Netscape browser is said to be able to render web pages in FireFox, and get this -- Internet Explorer. My first reaction to this was, "Um, what's the point?" But having thought about it a bit more from a power user's perspective, this is actually a very useful feature.

Having been clean of IE for a few weeks, I still run across the occasional site that doesn't work well in FireFox, especially my online banking site. When that happens, even the most anti-IE of us must fire up that blast from the past and go about our business. With the new Netscape (version #... uh, who knows) that problem will be averted. You just switch views and keep on going.

An early screenshot is very Netscape-centric and way too green, but it's promising nonetheless. I'd have to check the definition of the word "irony," but I do believe it would be ironic (don't ya think?) if Netscape made a comeback in part by stealing from Microsoft!

Posted by Cory | | | Permalink

Subscribe: RSS/XML | +My Yahoo | +Newsgator | +Bloglines | +Rojo


View Recent Posts


Speaking Engagement

I am speaking at SMX West

Need Solid Advice?        

Google AdWords book

Andrew's book, Winning Results With Google AdWords, (McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed.), is still helping tens of thousands of advertisers cut through the noise and set a solid course for campaign ROI.

And for a glowing review of the pioneering 1st ed. of the book, check out this review, by none other than Google's Matt Cutts.

Posts from 2002 to 2010

Traffick Blog Archive ::
June 30, 2002
July 21, 2002
July 28, 2002
August 04, 2002
August 25, 2002
September 01, 2002
September 08, 2002
September 15, 2002
September 22, 2002
September 29, 2002
October 06, 2002
October 13, 2002
October 20, 2002
October 27, 2002
November 03, 2002
November 10, 2002
November 17, 2002
November 24, 2002
December 01, 2002
December 15, 2002
December 22, 2002
December 29, 2002
January 05, 2003
January 12, 2003
January 19, 2003
January 26, 2003
February 02, 2003
February 09, 2003
February 16, 2003
February 23, 2003
March 02, 2003
March 09, 2003
March 16, 2003
March 23, 2003
March 30, 2003
April 06, 2003
April 13, 2003
April 20, 2003
April 27, 2003
May 04, 2003
May 11, 2003
May 18, 2003
May 25, 2003
June 01, 2003
June 08, 2003
June 15, 2003
June 22, 2003
June 29, 2003
July 06, 2003
July 13, 2003
July 20, 2003
July 27, 2003
August 03, 2003
August 10, 2003
August 17, 2003
August 24, 2003
August 31, 2003
September 07, 2003
September 14, 2003
September 21, 2003
September 28, 2003
October 05, 2003
October 12, 2003
October 19, 2003
October 26, 2003
November 02, 2003
November 09, 2003
November 16, 2003
November 23, 2003
November 30, 2003
December 07, 2003
December 14, 2003
December 21, 2003
December 28, 2003
January 04, 2004
January 11, 2004
January 18, 2004
January 25, 2004
February 01, 2004
February 08, 2004
February 15, 2004
February 22, 2004
February 29, 2004
March 07, 2004
March 14, 2004
March 21, 2004
March 28, 2004
April 04, 2004
April 11, 2004
April 18, 2004
April 25, 2004
May 02, 2004
May 09, 2004
May 16, 2004
May 23, 2004
May 30, 2004
June 06, 2004
June 13, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 27, 2004
July 11, 2004
July 18, 2004
July 25, 2004
August 01, 2004
August 08, 2004
August 15, 2004
August 22, 2004
August 29, 2004
September 05, 2004
September 12, 2004
September 19, 2004
September 26, 2004
October 03, 2004
October 10, 2004
October 17, 2004
October 24, 2004
October 31, 2004
November 07, 2004
November 14, 2004
November 21, 2004
November 28, 2004
December 05, 2004
December 12, 2004
December 19, 2004
January 02, 2005
January 09, 2005
January 16, 2005
January 23, 2005
January 30, 2005
February 06, 2005
February 13, 2005
February 20, 2005
February 27, 2005
March 06, 2005
March 13, 2005
March 20, 2005
March 27, 2005
April 03, 2005
April 10, 2005
April 17, 2005
April 24, 2005
May 01, 2005
May 08, 2005
May 15, 2005
May 22, 2005
May 29, 2005
June 05, 2005
June 12, 2005
June 19, 2005
June 26, 2005
July 03, 2005
July 10, 2005
July 17, 2005
July 24, 2005
July 31, 2005
August 07, 2005
August 14, 2005
August 21, 2005
August 28, 2005
September 04, 2005
September 11, 2005
September 18, 2005
September 25, 2005
October 02, 2005
October 09, 2005
October 16, 2005
October 23, 2005
October 30, 2005
November 06, 2005
November 13, 2005
November 20, 2005
November 27, 2005


Traffick - The Business of Search Engines & Web Portals


Home | Categories | Archive | About Us | Internet Marketing Consulting | Contact Us
© 1999 - 2013 All Rights Reserved