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Mar 17 2006
Yahoo! Local � News
Following the footsteps of Topix ... Yahoo! Launches a Local News Beta. Here's an example of San Francisco; here's New York. In New York, Yahoo! gets its news from myriad sources, not just newspapers: New York Times, Newsday, WABC 7, WNBC 4, WCBS 2, New York Daily News, WBGO-FM. In San Francisco, there are many more sources.

How long before local news shows up in Yahoo! Local itself? Not long I would imagine. (Google will probably follow suit at some point.)

So how do newspaper sites compete now that there are two aggregators offering local news (Topix is owned by the newspapers)? Newspaper sites should become news aggregators themselves. They should leverage Topix and offer their own news plus news from other publications to build out a more complete offering.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  18:09 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 17 2006
10Ks Are Out
The Google 10K and Yahoo! 10-K are out and people are poring over them for insights and interesting information. I don't yet have time to give either of them a careful look. But PaidContent has summarized some of the highlights of Google's filing here and Yahoo!'s here.


Related: Per Search Engine Journal ... Google AdWords Starter Edition: a simplified version of AdWords. Paid search simplification is a key to attracting a broader range of new advertisers, especially SMEs. More on this in the upcoming Local Media Journal.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  11:34 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 17 2006
More on TPI
It appears next week is the deadline for initial bids on the Spanish publisher Telefonica Publicidad e Informacion, and there are reported to be five suitors: PagesJaunes (France Telecom), Yell Group and three private equity consortia.

Saw this today on Bloomberg News:

"France Telecom SA may be active. Europe's second-biggest phone company and Yell Plc are among five groups of bidders for Telefonica Publicidad e Informacion SA, Expansion said, without saying how it got the information."

And on

"TPI put on 0.24 or 2.54 pct to 9.68, but off a high of 9.74, on reports March 23 is the deadline for non-binding offers for the yellow pages company, with France Telecom, Yell and 3 consortia of private equity firms in the frame as bidders. "
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  11:10 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 17 2006
Newspapers Starting to Move
There's lots starting to happen in the newspaper industry. One example of newspapers stepping out from their traditional model into something more interesting and daring is Enterprise NewsMedia's "WickedLocal" online network. This is the "local search" portal for several Enterprise papers in the greater Boston area and obviously quite different from a newspaper site. There are four separate sites related to this portal (encompassing Enterprise's three local newspapers). "Wicked Local Plymouth" is one example.

I'm a fan of the UI, which is clean, simple and straightforward. I like the search and browse interface and I like the tabs (though some argue that people don't use tabs). I'm somewhat less enthralled with the way search results are presented. But it's a significant improvement over most newspaper sites' search capabilities and results. Planet Discover is behind the WickedLocal search functionality, which seeks to bring together "news, classifieds, real estate, jobs, products and services, cars, newspaper ad content from the publisher's three newspapers into one search results page." Here's the full press release.

In addition to the "local search" portal and component of the sites, Enterprise is experimenting with community and blogs. The relationship between blogs and traditional journalism on newspaper sites is still being worked out. (Blogs are more informal and flexible, for example.) Interestingly, The N.Y. Times has been adding blogs (reg. req'd) at a torrid pace.

As I have long said, newspapers have assets that neither directory publishers nor search engines can match in local. But directory publishers and certainly search engines aren't "conflicted" about executing online. Indeed, the culture of newspapers and a host of subsidiary issues have largely kept them from acting decisively and really making headway online to date. I'm encouraged to see significant movement starting to happen.

At the NAA show in Orlando last month, there was discussion on a panel I moderated about creating new brands/sites online to attract new advertisers and audiences. I argued that newspapers shouldn't walk away from their brands online. But there are some practical issues here that may justify the creation of new online sites. Newspaper brands are sacrosanct and newspapers may be scared to do anything too daring with their brands online. For that reason, and as a practical matter, it may be necessary to create new sites/brands to take some necessary risks.

I believe that newspapers have to recognize fundamental distinctions between the print and online products. They are not the same, and an effective and competitive local site is not merely an electronic extension of the print product.

Enterprise's approach, as well as that of McClatchy's or the Arizona dailies', among several others, may represent the "middle way" in creating a new, more compelling and effective user/advertiser offering while working with the internal "cultural" challenges of the newspaper industry and the inviolability of the newspaper brands.


Related: News Corp. is contemplating using MySpace as a "platform" to add community/social networking features to its newspaper sites. I read about this first in PaidContent, but the link trail goes back to the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper site. The paper quotes Murdoch:

"We see a great opportunity to combine the popularity of Intermix's sites, particularly MySpace, with our existing online assets to provide a richer experience for today's internet users."

While community is good for newspaper sites, execution is key.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:00 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 16 2006
Thursday Miscellany
Leslie Walker of the Washington Post writes up an investigation by ClickFacts that estimates approximately 35 percent of a single advertiser's paid search clicks from Google were "bogus." According to Walker's piece, 17% of the leads that came from Yahoo! were similarly dubious.

According to this N.Y. Times piece, Google is going use Base as a channel to deliver traffic and e-commerce to large European retailers. It's not entirely clear but it appears this is a version of what Amazon has done in hosting certain retailer Web sites. It's not a hosting deal per se. It's a way to display product information and presumably provide e-commerce to these retailers. As the article points out, there are those retailers that already have an online presence and won't necessarily need that kind of support, but who currently do heavy paid search marketing at Google.

Base and its uses are very much still evolving. Shopping/product information is one of the primary consumer interests online. With Froogle in the U.S., Google has adopted an "agnostic" approach to shopping, using partnerships with retailer aggregators and ShopLocal to provide offline retail/product information in addition to the customary e-commerce. (Remember e-commerce is only 2.5 percent of U.S. retail.)

More to come ...
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  12:10 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 16 2006
Round and Round: Bubble 2.0?
At last year's ILM:05 event in Reston, Virginia � by all accounts the best ILM conference to date (that is, until the upcoming one :) � the final panel "The Local Landscape: A Coming Bonanza or Bubble 2.0?" featured a very thoughtful group of VCs:

  • Randy Haykin, Managing Director, Outlook Ventures
  • David Horowitz, Principal, Comcast Interactive Capital
  • Isaac Kato, Principal, General Catalyst Partners
  • Warren Lee, Principal, Canaan Partners
  • Mike Orsak, General Partner, Worldview Technology Partners
While local was the starting point, the entire Internet and investment climate was the broader theme. Since that conference only 3 1/2 months ago, things have continued to speed up (if that's possible). More and more money is flowing into funds looking for a return. Om Malik and SiliconBeat tonight have posts about how Silicon Valley is awash in money. (If there's anyone out there who would like to send me a check, you know where to find me. :)

I spoke not long ago with a very smart managing partner at a high-profile VC firm who said he was almost compelled to invest "in anything that moves" because of the logic and economics of these funds and the marketplace now. I'm not by implication disparaging any of the investments described in the mentioned posts. I'm merely observing from the sidelines that it does seem that money is very easy to come by and there are more funders than there are takers � people are more skeptical and resistant to VC funding these days.

Round and round it goes and where it stops ... ?
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  01:15 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 16 2006
$100 Laptop + Writely + GDrive = Now I Get It!
Ever since it was announced, I have been fascinated by the potential appeal of the $100 laptop developed by MIT, with the backing of Google and AMD among others. It's now in production. I've written about it a bunch in the past and won't reproduce all those comments (or links) here. I said originally this is the realization or "second coming" of Oracle's Larry Ellison's "network PC" idea, which was a response largely to Microsoft's market position and power. Google cofounder Larry Page in his CES Keynote mentioned the low-cost machine as a way to overcome the first-world, third-world digital divide.

Bill Gates doesn't like the idea for several obvious reasons (neither does AMD rival Intel). But more importantly he doesn't think consumers will like it. In a somewhat related vein, Microsoft has touted Origami as a response to the size/power/functionality challenges of mobile computing (the price range is $799 to $999).

I do think consumers will be interested in the $100 computer (there's already considerable evidence). The current "hand-crank" design may have less appeal to certain consumer segments than it could, but design elements can be changed over time. Alternatively it may indeed turn out to be a product for emerging markets (I don't think exclusively so). That's still millions upon millions of potential customers.

The thing that struck me tonight about all this was that a kind of global vision for Google comes into focus. People have been speculating for the past couple of years about a GoogleOS or a GooglePC. There's no GoogleOS, per se � although there is GooglePack and the deal with Sun regarding OpenOffice. And now there's the Google acquisition of Writely. And then there's GDrive.

Let's put aside the major, major privacy issues that may prevent GDrive from really hatching into a full-grown butterfly. Having made that very important qualification, let's step back and look at the really big picture here:
  1. Low-cost computers that don't have big hard drives (say, the $100 laptop or a similar device)
  2. Ubiquitous high-speed access (see GoogleNet or FON)
  3. Web-based consumer software apps (e.g., GMail or Writely)
  4. Virtually unlimited personal online storage (GDrive)
Now you see where I'm going.

This is not to say it's the same place Google is going. But from one point of view it's certainly a compelling roadmap. Google thus would be the network and host most of the necessary software. Google and its allies would replace Microsoft as the primary computing platform � swapping the Internet for client-side applications. Microsoft sees the storm clouds on the horizon and that's why I among others believe it's pushing Live (in addition to the market segmentation value there).

The supreme irony of all this is that while Google genuinely wants to offer value to consumer-users it doesn't as clearly recognize how the realization of its vast ambitions would effectively turn the company into Microsoft (maybe it does), in terms of market domination and corresponding suspicion (which already exists). Microsoft, for its part, is now cast as the underdog and "good guy" when it comes to the Internet. That is an amazing turn of events � and not lost on the people in Redmond.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  00:09 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 15 2006
Looking Ahead to DDC2006
As we get ready for our Drilling Down event in San Jose later this month, we are also setting our sights on Directory Driven Commerce 2006, our directory industry event, which happens this Sept. 18-20 in Los Angeles.

We are sticking with a simple, straightforward theme for DDC2006 � what does the future hold for the global Yellow Pages industry?

We've just confirmed our first featured speaker, Valerie Taylor, CEO of Platefood. Platefood is a London-based company that is a collaboration of the Australian directory publisher Sensis and FAST Search & Transfer to market a directory/search platform to Yellow Pages publishers.

We think Valerie will offer a compelling POV on at least one approach for publishers to remain competitive in a multi-platform future.

We plan to announce other featured speakers in the coming days and weeks.

We are now in the process of developing our map of conference sessions, and we welcome your ideas and feedback.

If you have an idea for a conference session topic, you can send me an e-mail with your ideas. I can't promise I will use every idea, but I will consider them all.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  17:21 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

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