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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]

Jan 24 2006
Google: Improved Local Imagery
Seeking to match some of the very impressive high-resolution �birdseye� photography now available through Windows Live Local, Google has improved the resolution on some of its aerial coverage. Here�s the latest from the Official Google Blog:

We�re always trying to improve the imagery in Google Earth and Google Local, but our latest update is bigger than usual. Not only have we added extensive 6-inch imagery for many parts of the U.K., but we�ve updated the Google Local database to match the coverage we have in Google Earth, and (drum roll, please) ... we�ve added two more zoom levels in Google Local�s Satellite mode! Now for many areas around the world you can see a lot more detail than you could before.

As examples, Google is offering new and improved views of Buckingham Palace, the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House.

I tried to find the identical landmarks in Windows Live Local to offer a comparison on this post and found it very difficult�it�s not a good tool for landmark search. One has to have the address first; but what�s the �address� of Buckingham Palace? (It�s Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA, of course�not much of an �address.")

I spoke to MapQuest the other day and, to my surprise, they said they were exploring options to offer something �at least as good� as what Microsoft was doing with aerial photography.

All these tools will get better, including landmark search (which isn�t that great in Google either).

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  08:38 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 24 2006
Yahoo! Content to Be No. 2 in Search?
This is a very interesting piece from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer quoting Yahoo!�s CFO Susan Decker on the implied unliklihood that Yahoo! will gain any significant search share from Google in the immediate future.

Recall, however, that overall Yahoo! is number 1 in terms of uniques (a position it has traded with AOL back and forth).

What is amazing is that Google grew search market share (by all accounts) in 2005, a year of incredible competition. This year promises to be at least as competitive and Yahoo! may turn some attention from search per se to other assets (e.g., video, mobile, content creation, podcasting and so on).

The Yahoo! Go strategy playing out will also be an important one to watch. (There have also been rumors that Yahoo! will seek to buy TiVO.)

I would also make the unsolicited recommendation that Yahoo! devote more time and attention to MyYahoo (though the company recently �AJAX-ified� the content modules). This is an application that is very strong (for the mainstream user) and should be leveraged sooner rather than later.

On the advertising side, Yahoo! will likely try to continue to leverage its relationships with national advertisers�display ads were an area of growth for the company�and the success it has had in its initial trials with behavoral targeting. Yahoo! is also slowly developing its contextual product.

Local is also an area of great strength and innovation for Yahoo! And, as mentioned, social media and community will continue to develop at Yahoo!

We sometimes forget that there�s a great deal more going on on the Internet than search, even though search has become the driver or starting point for so much commercial and non-commercial activity.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  06:36 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 24 2006
Social Search Review
BusinessWeek Reporter Ben Elgin provides a nice overview of Yahoo!�s �differentiation strategy� (vs. Google) using community and �social search.� (I believe JudysBook has tried to TM the term �social search.")

We wrote about Yahoo!�s broader social strategy and how it related to local back in August last year and blogged a bit more about it in November.

I also wrote previously here about how Yahoo! is integrating community across its site in Answers, Shopping, Trip Planner, etc.

We�ll also be doing an update of our 2004 White Paper �Social Networking: Building a Better Local Online Marketplace� this year.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  05:39 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 24 2006
Jeeves' New Image Search
This doesn�t have anything to do with local per se, but is supposed to being helping make IAC a local powerhouse (together with Citysearch). I�m reminded by this that I need to catch up with them on a range of fronts. But the new image search is a nice presentation.

According to the recent Keynote Systems research on search user satisfaction, image search is playing a more significant role in the overall search picture (so to speak):

Image search appears to have caught on quite quickly with consumers, with 63% of Yahoo! users and 56% of Google users turning to the image search areas of those sites when searching for an image. There is less awareness and usage of the local search tabs, with just 28% of Google users and 39% of Yahoo! users in the study turning to the local search function when conducting a local search although there is great appreciation for Google�s integrated local search results. There is significantly less consumer demand for the special product search functionality on all leading sites.

As competitive as Ask�s functionality and search results are, the engine has struggled to differentiate itself and gain share. However, according to comScore, between November 2004 and 2005, Ask gained 1% market share:

November �04:

  • Google: 34.6%

  • Yahoo!: 32%

  • MSN: 16%

  • AOL: 9.1%

  • Ask: 5.5%

November �05:

  • Google: 39.8%

  • Yahoo!: 29.5%

  • MSN: 14.2%

  • AOL: 8.7%

  • Ask: 6.5% (+1%)

At 5+ billion monthly searches that�s not insignificant. Still, if Ask is going to further break out it will have to do some fairly radical things to draw users away from the top three.


Here�s more from Loren Baker at Search Engine Journal.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  05:11 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [2]

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