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Jan 25 2006
PEW: Internet Strengthening Social Nets
A new report from the good folks at the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that the Internet (and e-mail) are increasingly relied up to manage �offlline� social relations/networks and that, in addition, more and more people are relying on the Internet to help them in making major life (cycle) decisions:

45% of internet users � about 60 million Americans � say the internet has played an important or crucial role in helping them deal with at least one major life decision in the previous two years.

This sounds a lot like Yellow Pages historical behavior and confirms earlier findings by comScore about the connection between �life events� and online consumer patterns. Here�s an earlier post about the same phenomenon. And here�s a MediaPost article (reg. req�d) specifically about the now year-old comScore findings.

There�s probably lots of juicy stuff in the Pew report that I haven�t yet had time to digest. But the full report is available for download here.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  15:35 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 25 2006
NY Times Revenues/Subscribers Growing
The Internet Stock Blog has a summary of the NY Times earnings call (revenues up 30 percent in Q4)�there are lots of datapoints about traffic/users, etc. And the ranks/rolls of TimesSelect paying subscribers (I�m one) continues to grow. I was really skeptical at launch, but there seems to be some momentum (now 156K online only subs in 4 mos, 390K total)

The apparent success The Times is having in getting online only subscriptions is probably more a function of its brand strength and perceived unique content than a validation of the notion that online newspapers can charge for content. The Times is becoming much more than a �newspaper site� and doing lots of interesting things (especially with video).

Here�s the full earnings release .
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:55 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 25 2006
Craigslist Adds Another Paying Vertical
This is really old news, but Craigslist confirmed that it will be charging for apartment rentals in New York. This adds a second category, the other being jobs, to its source of revenues. I believe that Peter Zollman�s Classified Intelligence has estimated annual Craigslist revenues at $10 million (that�s my memory).

A long time ago now (about a year and a half ago), I was on a panel with Craig Newmark at Real Estate Connect, a vertical trade show produced by Brad Inman (founder of HomeGain and now I think he alluded then to considering the move, as much to deter spam and other unethical practices as to make money.

The remarkable thing about Craigslist (among many things) is its �restraint.� As I�ve said to many people ... If Craigslist had VC money when it started it would not exist today. Slow and steady wins the race.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:46 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 25 2006
eBay Building Pan-Media Platform?
It would appear so, according to this article in MediaPost (reg. req�d):

On Tuesday, some of the nation�s biggest advertisers got a pitch from a surprise media buying �solutions provider:� online auction service eBay. Details of the presentation, and the reaction of the ad executives�members of the Association of National Advertisers influential Television Advertising Committee�could not be discerned at press time, but executives privy to the meeting told MediaDailyNews that eBay was invited by the committee to present ideas for building an electronic trading system for buying and selling media.

Recently Google purchased dMarc and Spot Runner launched. dMarc extends Google�s platform to a traditional, offline medium and may be the first move as part of a larger, consolidated media-buying platform the search engine is developing. And Spot Runner brings the efficiencies of the Internet to local cable TV ad buying.

Clearly we�re starting to see the future of all ad buying�the Internet (or at least electronic platforms). Is eBay trying to get a jump on Google here? Perhaps. Regardless, this is extremely interesting and would now seem to be part of an emerging larger trend.

We�re going to speculate about the future of media buying�and integrated online and offline buying in particular�in our final panel at this year�s Drilling Down event:

The Future of Local Media Buying: The Integrated Online-Offline Platform
Until recently, online marketing was regarded with skepticism and ambivalence. In 2005, led by paid search, online marketing in general came to be seen as a credible medium. While newspapers and Internet Yellow Pages have long been selling online advertising on their sites (and more recently into broader networks), the Google acquisition of dMarc suggests a potentially new, more integrated online-offline media future. It also directly brings the harsh light of performance-based marketing and Web analytics to a traditional advertising medium. The panelists will discuss these and other recent developments and what the near and long term will hold for online marketing and interactive local media.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  08:45 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 25 2006
Yahoo! Search Not 'Giving Up'
Here�s the Yahoo! Search response to the �controversy� created yesterday by the Bloomberg article in which Yahoo! CFO Susan Decker seemed to be saying Yahoo! was perfectly happy being No. 2 (to Google) in search:

[W]e thought it made sense to briefly recap how focused we are in search and our passion to be the world�s leading search engine�

We�re continuously innovating and finding new ways to help people connect to information and knowledge�part of our vision to help them find, use, share and expand all human knowledge. We�re working on literally hundreds of projects to improve search, and some of the most visible examples include My Web, Yahoo! Answers, and Open Shortcuts. We have also brought in some of the most innovative companies like Flickr and, to help bring the promise of social search and tagging to the rest of the world and advancing search beyond what it is today.

Finally, we�ve turned Yahoo! Search into an open platform for innovative third-party developers�we�ve built the most comprehensive set of Web Services, allowing a new generation of applications to be built such as Rollyo and Eurekster and many others.

There were lots of responses �across the dial� yesterday from surprise to dismay to �those clever devils� (thinking she was trying to lower Wall Street expectations).

Clearly Yahoo! has done and is doing lots of innovative things, including in search. This response and all the reaction that flared from the article makes me wonder whether the remark was calculated or casual/off the cuff.

As someone who talks to reporters now with some regularity, my experience is that it�s very easy for remarks to be taken out of context or for things to be misquoted (this happens a high percentage of the time).

However, the reporter on the story, Jonathan Thaw, is a quite good and thoughtful writer from my perspective so it�s probably not a misquote. Regardless, the subsquent Yahoo! Search Blog response clarifies that Yahoo! doesn�t want to be seen as �giving up� in any way.


More from the SEW blog.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:56 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 24 2006
Google Has Public Support � For Now
According to this AFP story:

A survey from the Michigan-based Ponemon Institute, released Tuesday, indicated that approximately 56 percent of respondents believed Google shouldn�t hand over the information demanded by the Department of Justice. Nearly 90 percent of those polled were under the impression that their Internet searches were kept private.

But this sentence underscores the high stakes and risks for Google:

Of those who backed Google�s position, 41 percent contended they would stop using the Mountain View-based search engine if it yielded to the government�s demand.

We�ll see if that actually happens if Google �caves.� Regardless, it opens a new chapter in the Internet privacy discussion given the public�s newfound awareness of the potentially discoverable nature of private search behavior.

And here�s a piece from the NY Times (reg req�d) citing anecdotal examples of the �chilling effect� and paranoia starting to set in among some search engine users in the wake of the government�s effort to get at search engine data:

Ms. Hanson, 45, immediately told her boyfriend what she had done. �I told him I�d Googled �rent boy,� just in case I got whisked off to some Navy prison in the dead of night,� she said.

I make jokes like this to friends during wireless phone calls. The reality of government action/reprisals is quite remote, but the paranoia and corresponding inhibitions that set in are the greater issue.

Really disturbing stuff�

And this willingness to participate in state censorship in China is very disappointing (though it should come as no surprise) given the strong �democratic� stand Google has taken in this country in resisting U.S. government strong-arm tactics.


Here�s more on polling data and user attitudes from Gary Price at SEW.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  16:55 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 24 2006
What is News 2.0?
Om Malik has an interesting take on what constitutes the term "News 2.0" (the latest phrase within the Internet buzzword parlance that started with "Web 2.0").

There are many high-traffic news sites out there, he contends, that don't create any news at all -- they only aggregate. This has been a successful model for many news aggregators such as Topix, Google News (which came out of beta yesterday after four years) and others. But we must remind ourselves that these sites are nothing without the "News 1.0" (as Malik phrases it) that provides the content.

This concept applies to a broader argument of the necessity and longevity of print newspapers in a Web 2.0 world. As much as some bloggers will take the anti-establishment, free-content attitude that continues to be chic throughout Internet culture, it must be recognized that the source of all their information, and the generously supplied daily flow of fodder for their ruminations, is the work of newspaper and magazine reporters. And you can't have the newsroom without the newspaper.

Newspapers are facing unprecedented challenges, as shown by the ongoing woes of Knight Ridder and others. But their assets (original reporting, journalistic standards, established trust within their communities, etc.) are fueling the success of the medium that is in some cases slowly exacerbating their decline. An interesting paradox.

Some newspapers will always be around. But online is clearly where the growth is taking place, and established publishers need to find a way to compete with online distribution of both news and classifieds. Given the long-established business models and cultures of many publishers (and inertia), this might not happen without partnerships with online players, or some M&A activity (i.e., Classified Ventures). The latter is hard to execute in the face of falling margins. But we hope it does for the sake of quality news and its survival.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  14:35 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 24 2006
MySpace Goes Mobile, Faces a New Challenger
PaidContent reports that a new social networking site for Teens called Tagged has received funding. Little is revealed about the business model, but it will be difficult for anyone entering the space to gain market share from MySpace.

The average age of MySpace users skews a bit older than a teenage user base (roughly 18), but it still has a great deal of users in their teens who aren�t likely to abandon the accounts they have set up and developed (and made known to �friends� in the network). This gets to the stickiness of social networking, and the advantages of being first to market. Although this clearly didn�t work for Friendster, a combination of features, differentiation (MySpace�s focus on music) and marketing are clearly important in this space.

Fox Interactive Media President Ross Levinsohn, meanwhile, announced at the NATPE show in Las Vegas that this is the year MySpace will �go mobile.�

�You can see [users] interacting on their computer now want to extend that to the phone. � We want to empower MySpace screen names to supplant mobile numbers,� he said.

How this will be done isn�t exactly clear. It could require hardware partnerships as well as carrier partnerships. It could be complicated. But all that aside, it could be a very powerful integration, given that the MySpace demographic also represents a large market of mobile users.

More importantly, they are also an attractive demographic for advertisers, especially when mobile and inclined to transact locally. Bring in the possibility of contextual and geotargeted advertising, and you start to get the picture. We�ll have to wait and see what FIM has up its sleeve.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  13:54 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

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