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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
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 [1]

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