Tuesday, November 22, 2005

More on 'Froogle Local'

I got a release of sorts from Google this a.m. explaining in more detail the offline/local product data that Froogle will be featuring online. As an example, heres digital camera, San Francisco just in time for Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

Heres Googles statement:

Thanks to a new feature in Froogle, Google’s shopping search engine, shoppers can now find that must-have gift at a store in their neighborhood without running all over town. Today Google announced the addition of local merchants’ content to Froogle http://froogle.google.com. By entering the item you’re looking for and your location information, Froogle will show locations nearby that offer the product and pinpoint the stores on a map. So, whether a user wants to order it online or run out and grab it for a holiday party the same evening, Froogle can help.

Heres how local merchants, using Google Base, can upload inventory information. This is a way for Google to carry their inventory online without them needing to have a Web site (Google Base as a substitute/alternative Web presence).

As StepUp.com CEO Kendall Fargo said to me recently about small retailers, their inventory is their Web site.

Consumers clearly want local, offline shopping information (even though more will be avoiding crowds and lines this year). And everyoneYahoo!, Shopzilla, eBays Shopping.com, etc.that wants to be competitive in the online shopping arena will eventually have both online and offline inventory information. Then the question becomes: how do the engines monetize those offline leads (or how do they get credit for them)?

PPCall, call tracking, coupons?

Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/22 at 09:57 AM
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Late Night, Early Morning Fun

Because Im working too late:

Russell Beatties harsh AT&T (formerly SBC) logo analysis. AT&T wireless was acquired by Cingular, which then rebranded the service and which will now, ironically, lose its identity in favor of . . . at&t. If it werent true it would be worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit.

Speaking of which, Om Malik points to a video of a funny Saturday Night Live parody of Steve Jobs and the perhaps too-rapid rollout of new iPods.

Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/22 at 12:54 AM
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The Google of Internet TV?

As is being widely reported, BrightCove has received a $16.2 million investment from IAC, Hearst and AOL (and has a distribution deal with the latter). These guys want to do for video online what Google has done for PPClick advertisingbe at the center of a very powerful model.

Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/22 at 12:13 AM
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Monday, November 21, 2005

CNET Gets into Local Shopping (Google Too)

CNET announced that the company would now help consumers find tech gadgets in local, offline stores:

CNETs innovative local shopping capability goes beyond todays standard local shopping services, which typically provide stock availability for a retailer, but not for a specific store. Product availability information, which is provided by Channel Intelligence (http://www.channelintelligence.com), is available for more than 1,600 of this years hottest products, as determined by popularity on CNET, as well as availability at participating retailers, which include Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, and OfficeMax. CNET also provides shoppers with total price of the product, including tax according to zip code, as well as links to reputable online retailers.

. . . And Google gets into the act as well (with a little help and a little additional help), offering local inventory information. But eventually Google hopes to obtain more of this local/offline information directly from local merchants via Google Base as well.

Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/21 at 09:03 PM
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Digging Deeper into the Data: Local Search

In addition to the data jointly put out by Pew and comScore about the rise of search are data on local search and IYP usage. According to comScore, Yahoo! Local was not far behind AOL in terms of the number of uniques. This is a big deal, showing how far Yahoo! Local has come in a relatively compressed time frame. 

In terms of the overall share of local searches (total volume was 447,829,790 local searches in 8/05), the comScore data reflect the following market share distribution:

Google Sites43.7%
Yahoo! Sites28.2%
MSN-Microsoft Sites13.7%
Time Warner Network7.5%
Ask Jeeves5.5%
InfoSpace Network0.9%
Lycos, Inc.0.3%

comScore separately breaks out IYP usage (231,678,352 lookups in 8/05). Heres the percentage breakdown of the data:

Yahoo! Sites27.6%
Verizon Communications Corporation -- 25.5%
Google Sites11.6%
Time Warner Network7.6%
InfoSpace Network7.0%
SBC Communications2.4%
Ask Jeeves0.2%

(The combined share of SBC, BellSouth and YellowPages.com is 11.5%, 0.1% point below the Google Sites.")

There is some ambiguity here. Are the Google, Yahoo! and TimeWarner local search data, for example, the superset and IYP the subset? Or are these categories distinct? Its not entirely clear. In addition, comScore has traditionally been quite conservative in estimating local search volume (because of the inherent challenges in disambiguating queriesis probate attorney a local search for example?)

Regardless, the quick take away from these data is that local search/IYP traffic is clearly growing.

Ill be following up with comScore SVP Jim Larrison. He and I will be presenting data during the opening session of ILM:05 seeking to answer the question: How Much Search Is Really Local?

Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/21 at 04:21 PM
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More Newspaper Doom and Gloom

Editor and Publisher reported that more than 1,900 jobs have been cut from
major and mid-sized newspapers over the past year. The cuts have included
500 jobs at the New York Times, 16 percent of the Knight Ridder’s San Jose
Mercury News staff, and 7 percent of the Houston Chronicle newsroom. And last
week many of the Tribune Co.’s newspapers announced that layoffs are
likely in the future.

The entire list of layoffs by company is nicely compiled here.

Knight Ridder announced last week that it is putting itself up for
sale due to poor stock performance and a bleak outlook of the newspaper
publishing model in today’s media environment. Meanwhile New York Times
shares have declined 32 percent this year, while the Washington Post Co.
stock has gone down 27 percent. Gannett and Tribune Co. stock have each
declined 23 percent and Belo Corp is down 17 percent this year. Circulation,
at the root of these valuation declines, has fallen 2.6 percent overall in
the past six months, one of the biggest drops in 20 years.

The good news for newspaper publishers is that newspaper owned website
traffic is growing 11 percent annually according to Nielsen. That’s a faster
pace than the overall Internet growth. The takeaway for newspapers is that
online is where the growth is. The advertising online may not yet scale to
the degree of print publishing, but the traffic growth online can’t be
ignored in light of record losses for print.

Posted by Mike Boland on 11/21 at 10:40 AM
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Onsite AdSense

Seeking to bring more control/choice to advertiser-buyers of its AdSense program, Google has offered advertisers the ability to bid for inventory directly on particular network sites. This capability is one of the ways that competing contextual ad providers Kanoodle and Quigo have been selling against Googlemore control, more transparency.

This move follows on the heels of ongoing refinements for AdSense and specifically Googles willingness to separate bidding for AdSense and AdWords. Contextual ads traditionally havent performed as well as paid search ads.

John Battelle believes this will create controversy with many publishers. 

Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/21 at 08:42 AM
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TiVo via iPod, Skype via RadioShack

TiVo announced TiVoToGo, a service that will put TV on iPods or Sony PSP devices. Also, Skype announced a deal with U.S. electronics retailer RadioShack to sell/distribute the broadband phone service in the chains 3,000 U.S. stores. This is a smart move that will help raise awareness and demystify VoIP for many consumers.

Even though VoIP phone service depends on broadband, if the deals are good enough it might motivate dial-up users to get high-speed Internet to obtain the phone service. 

Once consumers are satisfied that VoIP phone service is reliable and that the 911 problem is addressed, were likely to see an exodus from traditional fixed-phone use (unless PSTN providers substantially lower prices to retain customers).

ILM recently issued an Advisory on VoIP and its implications for the marketplace. Non-clients can read the summary here

Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/21 at 08:14 AM
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Search Gains

Search continues to show big gains among U.S. users. According to comScore data comparing September 2004 with September 2005, the average daily use of search engines was up from 49.3 million users to 60.7 million. Separately, the Pew Internet & American Life Project said in its most recent survey that the daily use of search engines had grown to 41 percent of the online population (59 million users). Thats up from 30 percent in June 2004.

The Pew data are drawn from telephone surveys, while the comScore data are from online panels. 

This most recent set of comScore search market-share data reflect the following:

  • Google 89.8 million uniques
  • Yahoo! Search68 million uniques
  • MSN Search49.7 million uniques
  • Ask Jeeves43.7 million uniques
  • AOL Search36.1 million uniques

According to Pew, e-mail is still the most used online applicationwith daily use at 77 percent. But search is gaining.

Heres an interesting data point: comScore says users spend an average of 24 minutes per day with e-mail vs. about four minutes for search. (Yahoo! Mail and Gmail are thus important ad inventory.) Another striking thing is how Ask is not far off MSN in the comScore data.

This increasing usage of search engines will mean increased PPClick revenues among the major engines. It also shows that search has become a kind of universal consumer doorway and distribution mechanism that all online advertiserswhether directly or by proxymust reach.

Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/21 at 07:31 AM
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Friday, November 18, 2005

Judy's Book Adopts PPCall

Judys Book, fresh from its $8 million round, has announced that it is offering PPCall (similar to InsiderPages) as an advertising vehicle. Dubbed JBCalls, the service uses infrastructure from ZiffLeads

Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/18 at 03:48 PM
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Buying Ink by the Barrel

The favorite subject of most any newspaper business reporter is the business of newspapers. Because they try to be objective, reporters are often reluctant to say positive things about newspapers and the industry lest they be accused of blowing their own horn. So the current challenges the newspaper industry is facing have gotten a lot of ink in traditional papers and a lot of digits in electronic editions.

Today’s article in The New York Times was headlined, “Does Anybody Want to Buy a Newspaper?” The implication is that newspapers “are a dying breed, destined to wither under relentless competition from the likes of Google.” Well, Chicken Little, the sky is not falling. Circulation may be flat and advertising will continue to move to new media, but an equilibrium will be reached and the newspaper business, both print and electronic, will continue to be a significant one.

Ten years ago, when The Kelsey Group more closely covered the newspaper industry, we conducted annual research among both dailies and weeklies to judge their overall opinion of or interest in electronic services. Every year daily newspapers said that their primary reason for introducing electronic services of all kinds was to “remain the No.1 information source in their community.” On the other hand, weekly newspapers told us that their primary objective was to “create new revenues and profit sources.” Since electronic services didn’t generate much in the way of sales, weeklies didn’t pay much attention and focused instead on enhancing their print products.

I would say that this thinking is pervasive among all the traditional media. That is, the largest players see themselves as having a “public trust,” while the upstart smaller media outlets are focused on survival and taking market share of eyeballs, eardrums and greenbacks from their competitors. In the movie “Good Night and Good Luck,” Edward R. Murrow is willing to risk CBS’ largest advertiser in order to get a significant story. He saw this as an obligation that he had to his constituents.

On the same page as the article questioning the future of newspapers is a piece about Google now being worth $400 a share, giving the company a total market capitalization approximately the size of California. A major reason that I read newspapers or watch TV news is because of context.

Broadcasters and publishers have the opportunity to determine which stories are the most important and give them priority billing. They also control editorials. That incredible opportunity to influence people’s thinking is not likely to be replaced on the Internet no matter what electronic device we are using to access the news. As long as publishers dont lose the public trust, there will be readers and, therefore, advertisers.

Will the business change? Yes, of course. Does anybody want to buy a newspaper? Absolutely.

Posted by John Kelsey on 11/18 at 03:37 PM
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RHD, DEX Clear Hurdle

R.H. Donnelley Corp.s proposed acquisition of Dex Media cleared a significant hurdle today when the waiting period required by the Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust law expired, leaving no futher antitrust approvals in order for the deal to move forward. You can read the press release here.

Posted by Charles Laughlin on 11/18 at 03:15 PM
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CNET Japan Innovation Coverage

Theres lots of interesting search/local search-related discussion going on at the CNET Japan Innovation conference. 

Search Engine Journals Loren Baker is covering most of the sessions:

  • Google Local and Google Base discussed
  • Yahoo! and social search
  • Mobile & Local search
  • Blogging
  • Asks view of the world and next-generation Internet (aka Web 2.0") developments

      Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/18 at 11:00 AM
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      Short Takes for Friday

      Heres a roundup of news:

      • Judys Book grabs US$8 million in series B funding from Mobius Venture Capital, with contributions from Ignition Partners and Ackerley Partners.
      • Google 10Q facts (sliced and diced by PaidContent): AOL is responsible for roughly 10 percent of all [Google] revenue. Thats down from 12 percent in 2004 but still real moneyand a real reason to both to Keep AOL and keep it away from the competition. Also, International is almost 40 percent of Google revenues, up from 35 percent a year ago. Google-owned sites were responsible for 56 percent of revenues, while Googles partners (AdSense) contributed 43 percent.
      • Cingular is using InfoSpaces wireless platform for its new MEdia Net service, a personalized content portal. Billed as a next generation mobile services platform, heres the release.

      • WAND Inc. announced the development of a new local search taxonomy, consisting of roughly 750,000 terms.
      • I received a correction from Marc Hayes, founder of ContactAtOnce!, who wanted me to point out that the company offers presence management marking, using IM as one of many modalities. A skyscraper ad integrating their technology can be seen here (car dealer, scroll right).
      • According to measurement firm Hitwise, local search in the U.K. grew by 13 percent vs. last year. Yell.com (which is behind Google Local in the U.K.) was the most popular local site, with a 64 percent market share. Local.co.uk and ThomsonLocal.com each had 5 percent. According to Hitwise, Google Local search has not made a significant dent in the market, but its popularity is growing in part because of Google Maps integration.
      • According to SiliconBeat venture capital firm Greylock Partners invests more in local shopping aggregator Cairo, a competitor to ShopLocal (both will be at ILM:05).
      • The US$100 laptop is unveiled. I wrote about it here previously.

      Posted by Greg Sterling on 11/18 at 07:59 AM
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      Thursday, November 17, 2005

      BellSouth Plans New Ad Campaign

      BellSouth Adveritsing & Publishing is about to launch its first new advertising campaign in three years, this one aimed at users, carrying the line, May the Best Choice Win. We havent seen the ads, but it sounds like BellSouth will be taking aim at its growing list of directory competitors, at least in part, with the new campaign. In Atlanta, BellSouths home market, it competes with Yellow Book and Metro Directories, among others. Verizon pulled out of the market recently when its sales results were disappointing.

      The new campaign comes on the eve of the expected launch of the new YellowPages.com, which will fully integrate the IYPs of BellSouth and SBC. BellSouth and SBC have engaged SBCs agency, Austin, Texas-based GSD&M, to promote YellowPages.com. Here is an article on the latest doings at BellSouth from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

      Posted by Charles Laughlin on 11/17 at 09:53 PM
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