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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Techmeme Killer?

As an interim entry for the annals of the Annual Internet Infinite Regression Awards, I note Best News Site Prediction of Its Own Demise (This Week) -- Techmeme on the new Google Blog Search. Will have to check it out. Old Google Blog Search was so bad and so spammy.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Thursday, May 08, 2008

Beautiful Woman Car Insurance; Traffick to Post More Often

On Tuesday at the eMetrics Summit in San Francisco, our good friend John Marhsall, now with Market Motive, gave a mildly technical but extremely accessible talk on the ins and outs of RSS and feed metrics. The best part, frankly, was that (unlike some of the other analytics chatter), I actually understood it! His incontrovertible takeaway (one and only one key point) was: "Use Feedburner."

Fortunately, thanks to Cory Kleinschmidt and his technological alacrity, we installed that baby a few years ago, so I was able to dig into some stats. I discovered something that may not shock you. People do consistently subscribe to feeds, on a really nice ratio to the number that actually visit the site on a given day. My analysis shows that we get a good number of new signups with each "significant" post. A "significant" post might be a post that would be read by more people than usual. For example, one that gets quality link love from a popular site that explores Memes in Tech (for example), particularly on a Monday. End result: we think we should post a bit more often, on topics of substance. So the posting renaissance shall continue until further notice.

We may branch out a bit, though. You get tired of posting on all the same topics, so we'll try to get back to some reviews and comments on the hot features and apps owned by the major portal (type) companies, and our sense of the user response & growth trajectory of same. Now that the search wars are in some sense drawing to a close, maybe the real action really is in the rest of the stuff, like Flickr or Google Docs, that draws people into the portal company's general brand & functionality vortex. Come to think of it, there is so much more of that stuff going on now than in 2000 when we used to write about it... , that's probably why we don't write about it. Anyway, we'll try.

Just for fun. No promises. And don't worry about search being one-sided forever. We know some real competition in the search space is bound to heat up someday.

--

In other news, glancing at the Blogger ticker that shows recently updated blogs, I noticed a blog called "Beautiful Women Car Insurance." "Beautiful Women Car Insurance?," I asked myself. "I don't know what that is, but I think it should be something I should learn more about." Said learning did not go so well, however. It turns out the site was just another "splog," also known as "scraping SOB's," or "MFA Mofo's," depending on your regional dialect. An excerpt from the gripping dialogue completely unrelated to anything, let alone this idea whose time has clearly not yet come, "Beautiful Women Car Insurance":

"Comments cattle were real estate market in the status quo in the card-telephoto DC has the strongest 10x optical zoom capability, while supporting wide-angle 28 mm and OIS Optical Anti-Shake shooting, with 3-inch 230,000-pixel LCD. Property Tax: Logically property tax levy is essentially Jiefujipin move. However, the property tax against the property market speculation and excessive investment and consumption market is fully into the basic premise, once the market level is not high, the property tax in the fight against speculation and excessive investment and consumption, while also inhibit the normal pattern of the market / High-end consumer, leading to stabilize housing prices in the property market at the same time, a structural surplus, and perhaps one day people suddenly discovered that the market in full transition product, the property market instead of restricting a well-off one of the factors. Full competition in the industry, implementation of corporate real estate distributed welfare system. Customers considerable speculation the Group of public investment to consumption and cost, high-profit sectors to promote enterprise through a number of additional benefits in high-grade commercial housing for ordinary commercial houses and public consumption. Equity funds and real estate, real estate only with the ideal of stored-value"

Well, I think you get the gist. Can randomly chosen splog names actually result in new business ideas? I'm still trying to work out this Beautiful Woman Car Insurance angle, but I think it's going to be for men in luxury cars who total them looking at beautiful women. And this Infiniti lane departure warning technology had better not spread, or it's going to kill my whole business. That, or the optical zoom technology referenced in the above paragraph.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Friday, December 21, 2007

Dave Winer Was Right - A Long Time Ago!

Advocating blogs back in 2002, Dave Winer reportedly made a bet about blog entries appearing higher in SERP's than New York Times articles on the top news stories of 2007.

This account suggests he only narrowly won. (The author also says that trusted journalists have been displaced in the SERP's by "nameless, faceless amateurs who don't have to prove their expertise." I say BS to that claim, given that plenty of media stories show up along with thoughtful, useful blog posts.)

But the old search engine trick is in play here, isn't it? What queries are chosen to be the objects of study?

"Mortgage crisis" was one of the top five, and without even looking at official journos' lists, that was the number one story I could think of for the year.

But the query I used to search on it - subprime fallout - wasn't the "official" one. On the subprime fallout query, I discovered that Winer was very right! Blog entries took the #1 and #5 spots, with Econbrowser showing up first and Seeking Alpha at #5. 2, 3, and 4 were CNN, The Boston Globe, and something called MoneyWeek.

On this query, The NYT didn't make it into the mix on Page 1 - they weighed in at #15, beaten by the New York Post (#13).

Also counter to Cadenhead's post: on my query, Wikipedia proved not to be a factor - not appearing in the top 50 results.

Isn't search funny? The results are highly query-dependent, and generic queries perform differently from more specific or unusual ones.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Attention Public Relations Mavens: Meet My Friend Greg

Speaking of Search Engine Strategies Toronto, did you know that Incisive Media now hosts half-day and full-day training sessions - intensive workshops on special topics to bring you fully up to speed - the day prior to the SES conferences? These are very popular for companies wanting to see to it that their people get deeper, hands-on training in paid search, SEO, public relations, analytics, and other niche topics. Some of these for June 11 at the Intercontinental Hotel are virtually sold out now, but I wanted to give a heads-up for the one on online PR, news release optimization and blogger relations. It's a fast growth area, and there's no savvier expert than Greg Jarboe.

Attention PR mavens, and savvy online marketers: on June 11 - Greg Jarboe teaches the training session
on SEO PR 2.0: From press release SEO to blogger relations and beyond.

Check it out.

Greg's also speaking on two sessions at the regular program for said Toronto-based search marketing conference:
Why give this particular topic a plug? Basically because you can really see the negative fallout for those who don't "get" Public Relations 2.0. To the savvy go the spoils. See you there!

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Please, Call Me Scotiabank

Apparently Michael Seaton isn't quite up there with Michael Keaton (the name Google suggests I really mean when I type "Michael Seaton blog,"), but the director of online marketing for Scotiabank just got a little old media ink.

Patricia Best at the Globe and Mail noted that while Seaton ("the director of online marketing for The Bank of Nova Scotia")'s digs at competitor BMO were "by no means revelatory or even original," but his competitive post was "a departure from normal practice in the gentlemanly and closed club of Canadian banking."

Hmm, maybe it's that gentlemanly reserve that got some of them in this mess in the first place.

Best's mention was published a gentlemanly ten days after Seaton's post.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Wednesday, April 11, 2007

People Are Very Angry at Tim O'Reilly So They Just Proved His Point

It's hard to put a subtle debate into brief paragraphs, but I did want to elaborate a bit on my take about blogger codes of ethics or whatnot.

It's all too easy to wildly misinterpret a general initiative and to start rantin' and ravin' about "you can't impose a code of ethics on me, buddy," that's not what something like this is, in my mind. Of course some of the misguided substance of O'Reilly's initial draft didn't help.

Typical behaviors and conduct come with the territory in any industry. Consistency in conduct, and norms for said conduct, are the hallmark of any professional activity.

Of course no one should favor restrictive, tight-assed "you should communicate in this way" moralizing for the blogger community. Whoops, I just moralized. I meant, I don't favor it.

And it shouldn't be an overly formal certification. It should, above all, be useful. By self-identifying that they adhere to a certain viewpoint of what blogging is about, bloggers can communicate the rules of engagement for their particular publishing exercise, without having to constantly restate them.

A voluntary certification? Maybe not even that.

But if a persistent problem is hit-and-run comments - as we've seen in online communities since BBS days - then bloggers will begin using more robust user-identifying password systems for comments. Just a small example - but in two years I expect we'll at least beyond the lazy debate stage where it's seen as a complete outrage to have to log into a site to comment.

No one's talking about taking away anyone's precious anonymity, if they feel like spewing venom somewhere that permits it. But I have the right to opt into ways of regulating that - that's my freedom as the publisher. In fact maybe it's my responsibility to do so.

Doctors, lawyers, journalists, and other professionals are subject to regulatory standards to varying degrees.

We're bloggers, not doctors. OK. But further development of blogger *conventions* is absolutely healthy.

As for some of the other quasi-journalistic regulation proposed by O'Reilly: perhaps heavy-handed. But I restate my original point: someone started a productive debate, and from the tone taken by some of those who comment on blogs, many people have lost the ability to debate or to even acknowledge the substance of the other guy's argument before dismissing it. Could the anonymity coupled with immediacy be fueling a degree of contempt? Admittedly, blogosphere contempt can work in both directions, or multiple directions, until you give due credit for the fact that many well-known bloggers are accountable for their tone & substance alike, because they're visible. They're putting themselves out there.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thumbs-Up to a Blogger Code of Conduct

When Jimmy Wales and Tim O'Reilly get on the front page of the New York Times... it's news... to everyone else. There's been an outpouring of feedback on the proposal for a blogger code of conduct in the wake of rounds of blogger nastiness.

I've never been one for codes of ethics, especially not codes that emerge suddenly from particular actors in emerging industries. In search marketing I've written in the past that a "benign anarchy" can be better than a cartel-like phony codification / certification process.

That said, I like that they're talking about certain levels or standards that we could voluntarily adhere to. I think that critics like Russell Shaw are missing the point.

Just think about the clumsy treatment here of the Kathy Sierra affair, or about the lower-quality comments that wind up on this blog, for example. A recent one was "too many dumb bloggers," left of course by an anonymous coward.

Would requiring registration and identification of commenters cut into the free-flowing spontaneity of the blogosphere? I kind of doubt it. If many of us agree to agree that commenting login systems really aren't that much of a burden, then we'll partly solve the problem of anonymity that allowed someones to attack Sierra on seemingly respectable forums.

It would also discredit fake attacks meant to impugn a third or fourth party.

I probably wouldn't adhere to the certification that required me to fact-check sources in a certain way. Yes, I like facts. But part of the problem with journalism is that a quote taken out of context looks nice but can be highly misleading. The blogosphere can be incisive without that particular standard getting in the way. That part of it should be voluntary.

There's really nothing wrong with a voluntary code of standards for bloggers. I'm glad O'Reilly and Wales sparked the debate, at least.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Saturday, April 07, 2007

Jason Calacanis: "Sam Zell is going to lose billions and the Washington Post has no idea what their talking about"

Calacanis reminds us that snippets (especially opt-out available snippets) aren't stealing. As for newspapers themselves being on the decline, no question.

The longer debate is which old media companies are reinventing themselves at a reasonable pace. Most large companies have diversified holdings - why would newspapers be any different, and what is stopping them from restructuring, reinventing, investing, and thriving? Nothing, of course.

It appears troubling how frequently the big media (not just newspapers) have misjudged, misinvested, failed, and divested, in Internet stuff that just didn't catch fire.

I'm not sure what the difference is between success and failure here - is it startup culture? Or do most of these new ventures fail -- whether they emanate from old media, the major online players, or startups? That's probably more like it.

Now I'd love to see a list of what counts as stupefying success on a large scale with online content or local news and listings, on a par with newspapers of any size in their era. If it's The Drudge Report, then we're really just talking about cultural trends and a fascination with a bunch of "hits" on a website... not a major economic powerhouse.

To be sure, there's a reliable list of a dozen or so major online properties like Google, and big time startups like YouTube.

And yes, Craigslist, et al.

About.com? Ahem, bought out by the New York Times.

Great companies like Trader Media, now owned by Yellow Pages Group, started out in print, and they're moving over to online. But right there is proof that a traditional migration does make sense, and a traditional company, not a startup, created the majority of wealth for shareholders.

From an economic standpoint, the direct analogs of (or rhetorical competitors to) newspapers -- your world's hugest blog networks, for example -- only throw off a few million in cash a year at best. One of the most notorious ones sold for all of $25 million. Nick Denton, a leading blog tycoon, has said there's really no serious money in it. Some of the startups, like NowPublic, are cool. But until proven, they're hobbies or quick flips to Yahoo/Google/IAC, etc.

Newspapers and the diversified media companies that own them, somewhat analogous to Chrysler, may be old and crusty, but they're BIG. Other than Google, and the other 20-30 or so big online plays worth mentioning, most of the folks involved in newspaper-hating startups are longshot bettors. Are they sitting on a goldmine so rich that it makes sense to taunt traditional media conglomerates? The jury's out. Broadcast.com, Youtube, etc., all got out and acquired (for Yahoo/Google billions) before they had to prove up their biz models with serious revenues or profitability.

Conclusion: if Zell's smart, he can have his cake (sexy new media acquisitions) and eat it (trustworthy old media cash flow and editorial integrity & quality) too. And the startups that matter and thrive will seriously consider taking investment from old media; they're not averse to cake + cake themselves.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Phony Blogs that Give Blogging a Bad Name

Stumbled across a blogger's profile on Blogger. This blogger, called "Product Advocate," runs blogs on:

Toys

Jewelry

Speeding Tickets

Clown Makeup

... you get the picture. They're really not blogs, they're a few posts by SEO types on behalf of their clients but pretending to be "real" content, purporting to be about that particular industry, and then there are "links" that basically feature the client's site. I honestly don't know too many people who set up a whole blog just to enthuse about their traffic ticket paralegal firm. It's hard to come across such people in real life, because there aren't any.

And then SEO firms wonder why all the bad public image in the press? It's hard to defend your profession if you're willing to continue to do things that appall the search engine using public.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




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