Friday, October 29, 2004

Froogle newest additions: including keywordless advertising

From: clickz.com

In an e-mail to Froogle merchants, the search giant encourages them to try the ad automator, which coverts the merchants' product feeds into AdWords ads. The technology also determines what keywords would be most appropriate.

"You'll be able to create keyword-less data feed campaigns in your existing AdWords account while investing minimal time and effort," Google said in its e-mail.

The company has also rolled out changes to Froogle that help it catch up with other shopping search engines. A new "compare prices" feature lets users see multiple listings for a single product and compare prices for all merchants who sell it. Other shopping search sites already offer such a feature.

Froogle listings now also include merchant ratings, which are gathered from third-party sites like BizRate, Shopping.com and PriceGrabber.com. Users can't actually rate merchants at Froogle, only see how they were rated on other shopping sites.

Looksmart to allow Furl users to search across all public archives

From Clickz.com:

One of the company's proprietary content areas will be family-safe search, which the company is exploring with its Net Nanny service. Additionally, the company plans to unveil a re-design of the recently-acquired Furl.net later this week, which will allow users to search across all public archives of URLs users have saved.

"We have hundreds of thousands of high quality archives created by Furl users," said Hills. "The more people use Furl, the better the content gets."


Hills said the company has already integrated Furl.net with another property, FindArticles, to add greater functionality and cross-pollinate the traffic.


Full article:

http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3428591

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Web Feeds, Blogs & Search Engines

Here is a good article about the importance and size of blogs for search engines:

http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3426701

Bell South to resell AdWords for Google

From John Battelle:

For some odd reason I find the Yellow Pages interesting, always have. There's something about them that just reeks of...opportunity. Apparently Google agrees. They inked a deal with BellSouth's Yellow Pages unit, a deal which let's BellSouth resell AdWords. In other words, this is a new strategy for Google - BellSouth is the first ever company to have rights to resell Google's AdWords. If it works, it may have far reaching implications.

So why did they do it? Local, local, local. It's very hard to sell AdWords to plumbers. The Yellow Pages have reps who already sell ads to them. It's all about the trenches in the Local market.

Ask Jeeves Q3 revenues up 178 percent

From clickz.com:

Ask Jeeves more than doubled its profits from last year, posting third quarter net income of $10.7 million, or $0.15 per share, the company reported today.

This compares to income of $3.8 million, or $0.07 per share, for the comparable year-ago quarter. Revenues for the quarter grew 178 percent to $75.7 million, compared with $27.2 million for the same quarter last year.

According to CEO Steve Berkowitz, much of Ask Jeeves' success this quarter came from making Ask.com more personal, through the launch of My Jeeves; more local, through a partnership with CitySearch and improvements to maps and directions; and more relevant due to improvements in its Teoma algorithm.

Google doubled its profits this quarter, reporting net income of $52 million, or $0.19 per share. Yahoo! reported net income of $253 million for the quarter, or $124 million, not counting the post-IPO sale of a quarter of its stake in Google.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Yahoo launches mobile search

From searchenginewatch.com:

We've said several times that mobile and sms search tools are rapidly gaining steam in the U.S. Today, Yahoo Mobile has introduced a few new services.

Yahoo has added local search, web search, and image search to their already
large set of mobile services (news alerts, games, IM, etc.) delivered to your wireless web browser.

Yahoo Local is now available for mobile users. Results include ratings, maps, and directions. If you have a My Yahoo account, your saved locations are also available. You can also dial the phone number included in the result listing directly from the results page.

I wouldn't be surprised that sometime soon Yahoo will begin working with wireless carriers to automatically detect the searchers location (at the time of the search) and base directions off of that data.


Today is also the debut of the Yahoo image and web databases on Yahoo Mobile. Image results pages contain three images per page while web results contain five links per page. Your wireless browser will also need to handle html to access the underlying content.


Mobile searching is the perfect place to use
search shortcuts and we've seen Yahoo introduce a number of them over the past several months. For example, entering weather [city name, Zip} will place the current temperature and conditions at the top of the results page. NOTE: At the moment not every Yahoo shortcut works on the mobile service. I tested several of them and found that these work:+ weather+ calculator+ sports scores+ stock quotes+ dictionary definitions

Search results page accessed via Yahoo Mobile do NOT contain keyword or contextual advertising.

Google buys digital mapping company

From: businessjournal.com

Internet search engine company Google Inc., of Mountain View, says it's bought Keyhole Corp., a Mountain View-based digital mapping company. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"This acquisition gives Google users a powerful new search tool, enabling users to view 3D images of any place on earth as well as tap a rich database of roads, businesses and many other points of interest," says Jonathan Rosenberg, vice president of product management for Google, in a written statement.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Vivisimo launches new enterprise search technology: Velocity

Velocity offers dynamic clustering, and meta/federated search capabilities that allows the searcher to tap both web, fee-based, and internal databases simultaneously while using a common interface. The product also includes the release of Vivisimo's own crawler.

Monday, October 25, 2004

RSS aggrgator adding reputation system for feeds

From researchbuzz.org:

You may know NewsGator http://www.newsgator.com as an RSS reader that integrates into Outlook, and that's so. But they also have an online RSS reader that until recently cost to use. They announced last week however that it's now fahree. I've been using (and paying for) NewsGator online for several months; I'm thrilled that it's now free.

In addition to being free, the site also offers several other features. You can sort your feeds into folders, rate individual posts, get recommended feeds based on what you're already reading, and save entries from feeds.


RSS aggregators are joining the trend.

New mobile phone search service: upsnap.com

From searchenginewatch.com:

UpSnap turns your cell phone in to a search tool, offering free directory assistance lookups using SMS text messaging.

Using the service is simple and straightforward, either from your SMS-enabled cell phone or via
UpSnap.com. Simply type the name and location of a business you're trying to find and UpSnap returns directory information. Your phone does not need a browser or the ability to connect to the internet to use the service.

The service is free and is supported by sponsored listings. To access the service from your phone, simply send a text message to 604.877.7627. Most carriers do not charge long-distance fees for SMS messages--you'll pay only the fees charged by your carrier for a message (if any).
The search system attempts to interpret your request intelligently. For example you can search for services, people, products and companies by telephone area code, by Zip Code or by U.S. airport code.


For example, to locate a Starbucks in San Francisco, you can use any of the following combinations: starbucks san francisco CA, starbucks san fran (partial match), starbucks 415 (by area code), starbucks 94118 (by Zip Code), starbucks SFO (by airport code).

If UpSnap can't understand your request, it sends your phone template with a pre-formatted search string. Edit the template and reply with your commands in the template format.
Advertisers have both paid placement and call-back service options. For more information see UpSnap's
For Advertisers section.

UpSnap is the brainchild of Tony Philipp, who built Lycos Europe and later worked with Vivisimo. Partners in the venture include web veterans Richard Jones from Fortunecity and Wendell Brown from Evoice.

Philipp says that future services will include white pages, shopping comparison, search and tracking of eBbay auctions and other services.

Other recently launched products in mobile search:

www.mobot.com (uses camera phone pictures of ads to send relevant information about the product)

http://www.google.com/sms/

Yahoo and Adobe announce a partnership

From serachenginewatch.com:

A deal that gives Yahoo a new and very large distribution channel for their toolbar and will later see Yahoo search embedded in the Acrobat Reader will be announced today.

First, the companies will introduce a cobranded toolbar that will install (if selected) when updating to new versions of the Acrobat Reader. It will also offer direct access to Adobe's Web-based document conversion service.

The
AP article goes on to say that future versions of the Acrobat Reader will offer Yahoo search built directly into the product so users will not have to launch a browser to access web content.
"We call it being available at the point of inspiration," said Tim Cadogan, Yahoo's vice president of search.


The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. [Pam] Deziel [a director of product marketing for Adobe] said only certain elements regarding search features were exclusive to Yahoo, but she and Cadogan refused to give further details.

New shopping search engine: cairo.com

From searchenginewatch.com:

It features only items currently on sale; look for an item like a curling iron that isn't discounted and it won't be there. There is also no guarantee that the item is in stock.

+ Search process begins by entering a Zip Code or City Name
+ Cairo.com allows you to search by:+ Keyword+ Advanced Search Inteface+ Browse by Item, Merchant, or Brand

A results page contains:

+ Image of newspaper insert
+ Location of store (links to map and other location)
+ Ability to compare price using Froogle, Nextag, or Shopping.com
+ Sort results by Relevance, Price, Store Location, Retailer, and Distance
+ Google AdSense Ads (including image ads)
+ Registered users can set up email price alerts

Try it:

www.cairo.com

MSN to release desktop search product before year end

From news.com:

Microsoft has set a firmer date for the release of its desktop search software, after Google launched a test version of its rival program for scouring a PC's hard drive.

During its earnings call with financial analysts, Microsoft said an MSN-branded tool would be made available before the end of 2004. The tool and an algorithmic Web searching engine will be in beta testing by year's end, a representative said Friday.


More about MSN desktop search product:

MSN_multisearch_tool

MSN new search engine

MSN just released a preview version of its new search engine. The user interface, results and workflow resemble Goggle's experience. In addition, MSN offers a very interesting feature that could be the first step into a self indexing web.

Each result displays a button called "feedback". The button displays a smaller screen that allows users to click one of the following options: is exactly what I was looking for, is a dead link, is spam or junk, is inappropriate content (adult site), has the wrong language, has a bad description for the page content, and other. It also allows users to type the URL they were expecting to see on the list if not shown.

It is very clear Microsoft is trying to collect users' feedback to somehow refine the rankings and personalized results.

Review from search engine watch:

http://searchenginewatch.com/blog/article.php/3417071

Here is the preview version:

http://techpreview.search.msn.com/

Friday, October 22, 2004

Yahoo acquires Stata Labs, creators of Bloomba

From searchenginewwatch.com

Yahoo has purchased another email startup, Stata Labs. The acquisition follows Yahoo's July purchase of Oddpost, a provider of web based email. Stata Labs' Bloomba product, by contrast, is a desktop email client built around search from the ground-up. Raymie Stata, founder of Stata Labs, was one part of the original development team from AltaVista.

The press release announcing the acquisition says that Bloomba is no longer available, and Yahoo has no plans to make the product available. The two acquisitions suggest that Yahoo may be planning a Gmail workalike to replace Yahoo Mail sometime down the road.


New blog search engine: Blabble

From: internetretailer.com

Blabble incorporates natural language processing that parses blog listings returned in a search into parts of speech so as to extract from them words, phrases and constructions that indicate opinion. “50,000 people may write about a topic, but you don’t have time to read 50,000 listings,” says Rice. “And I probably don’t care about one individual opinion; it’s the aggregate that I care about."

Not sure about that. I care about what those 50,000 people think are the best listing for a given topic. And I will only read those listings. I don't care what John Smith has to say about Google, but I certainly read Battelle's blog everyday.

By the way, Blabble is still in pre beta. www.blabble.com

Full Article:

http://www.internetretailer.com/dailyNews.asp?id=12755

MSN Search study into gender search patterns

From Vnunet.com:

A poll conducted by MSN Search found that search engines are the first port of call for nearly half of men seeking advice. Family are consulted by a third, while partners are the sounding board of choice for only one in four men.

In comparison, the study into gender search patterns reveals that women still opt for more traditional advice options, with one in three rating family as their number one choice for help and information.

Women were found to be far more likely than men to rely on the internet as a first port of call for health concerns, with almost two thirds regularly using it to look up medical conditions that concern them, compared with only 41 per cent of men.

Male search vanity apparently knows no bounds. Almost a third of men admit to searching for themselves online and awarding themselves an average 80 per cent satisfaction rating for their general searching abilities. By contrast, just over one in five women have searched for their own name.

One in 12 men admitted to looking up ex-partners to uncover what they've been up to since splitting up, compared to just four per cent of women.

A typical male search query uses just two words, compared with three for women. Women are also more patient about investigating different potential routes.

While women are happy to look through six or seven results returned by a search query, men typically only refer to two or three before becoming impatient and refining their search or moving on to a new search altogether.

As a result men devote an average of just three minutes to each of the 42 searches they conduct each week, compared to the five minutes women spend on 30 searches a week.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Google Q3 '04: Revenue rose 105% from Q3 '03

From CNN Money:

Google has reported earnings of $.19/share for Q3 2004. Revenue rose 105 percent from a year ago to $805.9 million.

Google-Sites Revenue-Google-owned sites generated $411.7 million or 51 percent of total revenue. This represents an increase of 99 percent over the third quarter of 2003.

The Google Network-Revenue generated on Google's partner sites, through AdSense programs, contributed $384.3 million, or 48 percent of total revenue, a 120 percent increase over the Network revenue generated in the same quarter last year.

Highlights

- On a worldwide basis, Google employed 2,668 full time employees as of Sept. 30, 2004, up from 2,292 as of June 30, 2004
- Top 50 advertisers represented only 15% of growth
- 70% of engineering resources focused on enhancement of core services, 30% focuses on emerging businesses (GMail, Picasa, Blogger)

- International Operations account for 35% of revenue

New search engine: Exalead

Exalead is still in beta and was develpoed by a group of researchers in France.

The results are not very good because they haven't build a big index yet, but I like the way they display them. It looks like an outlook page devided in three panes. The main pane shows the list of results, the preview pane shows the selected results, and the left pane shows the following information:

-Related terms
-Related categories
-Website locatoin
-Document type

http://beta.exalead.com/search

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Great review of top six desktop search apps

Great outlook for the "search" industry

From the SF Chronicle:

Google predicted that the number of advertiser accounts will jump from 280,000 this year to 378,000 in 2005, according to the documents. From 2004 to 2008, the number of accounts is expected to more than double to 652,050.

"Clearly, adding close to 100,000 customer accounts per year is pretty significant," said Scott Kessler, an analyst for Standard & Poor's. "But the number of customer accounts is going to be increasingly less relevant over time."

Kessler said Google's future growth will be tied largely to higher ad prices. Customers will bid up the price of the ads, putting more money in Google's pocket, he said.

That's already happening in the search industry overall. A study by Morgan Stanley showed that ad prices for queries with two or three words, such as "APR credit card," nearly doubled to $1.84 per click between April 2003 and March.

Is "social networking" finally finding a profitable model?

Overstock.com recently launched its new auction site with a social networking component, and Buy.com announced on Monday it was acquiring Metails. Metails allows users to share specific product information and reviews with those with comparable interests, and financially rewards users who refer products to people in their network.

Ebay is launching a markting campaing for their new service called "the power of all of us". They have a nice flash site that clearly reveals what the new service is all about: "social networking platform". Like the other e-commerce sites, the idea is to allow users with similar interests to interact and recommend products.

Does the fact that all of these auction and e-commerce companies are knitting social networking into their services mean Social Networking is finally finding a prfitable model?

Here is Ebay's new campaign:

http://www.thepowerofallofus.com/flash.html

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Lots of activity in the sharing+social+local search space

From Charlene Li:

There's been a lot of activity lately in this space -- I wrote about Evite's entry into social networking yesterday and there have been recent launches by Lycos Circles, Yelp!, Insider Pages, and Judy's Book.

Here's the logic. If I'm looking for something, say, a good tailor, I'm likely to ask my friends for a recommendation. All of these sites can potentially collect all of those reviews, and then rank the businesses based on the number of positive reviews they received.


Two big problems: 1) Getting your friends into the network and 2) Getting them to make reviews. Neither will happen quickly or easily.


Which is why I think services like Evite and to some extent, Lycos Circles will have the leg up over the more specific local referral social networking sites like Yelp!, Insider Pages, and Judy's Book. Evite already has a natural way (via invitation lists) to map social networks, while Lycos Circles draws in your tight social network via regular interactions.


The big, lurking shadow you see running around behind all of this is
Yahoo! Local, and to some extent, Citysearch. Yahoo! in particular could easily map their general reviews in their database to your social network -- and I'm talking about the "network" that resides in your Yahoo! Calendar contact database. It will be hard for small start-ups to get much traction when size of network is the key to success.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Groxis gets $12M from Draper Fisher Jurveston

From The Mercury News:

Groxis has not only moved from staid offices on a Sausalito wharf, it has also snagged $12 million from a number of venture investors led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

It follows that Groxis' tool, Grokker, differentiates itself from mainstream search players Google, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves by helping users to dig deeper in their searches. Grokker relies on search engines to do the crawling, but lists the results differently: according to subject, so that a search for Paris gives you a single page with several categories titled ``history,'' `museums,'' ``universities,'' ``hotels'' and so on.

The results are presented on the Web page in the shape of a sphere, and the user drills down within multiple layers of the sphere to search for exactly what they are looking for.

Finally, Groxis is selling its product to companies, which might like Groxis' ability to integrate an Intranet search with Web search and more (Groxis can also include search results from Lexis Nexis, IEEE, Web Library and so on, if a user has an account with such services).

The company says it has picked up more than 100 such customers, including Dell, Microsoft, U.S. Navy, CIA and Visa, though it hopes to announce some bigger deals later this year, when schools finalize purchasing plans. Groxis is sticking with its original plans -- announced last year -- to charge individuals $49 to download the software for more than the free 30-day test period.


Full article:

mercurynews

Promising natural language engine to launch early next year

From Panda.com:

A Norwegian company claims that it has solved the problem, and that it will be able to deliver a natural English language answering machine early next year.


This is not keyword search with a layer of natural language on top, says
Stochasto CEO Jan Husby. - This is real natural language search based on an extensive database of vocabulary, conjugations, phrases, grammatical rules and semantic contexts.


Searching with this new technology is an interesting experience: Instead of getting a list of websites that might offer an answer to your query, you get to ask your question in natural language and are presented with an answer in plain English along with a link to the web site from which the answer originated.

Full Article:

http://www.pandia.com/post/023.html

New Meta-search Enigne: Info.com

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Info.com employs 10, mostly Web designers and engineers. Scarr, 41, and one other employee are based in Chicago, with two more expected to be added here soon. Scarr said Info.com so far has received $8 million in backing, primarily from angel investors.

Scarr said Info.com's meta-approach checks about 6 billion available Web pages, increasing a searcher's chances of finding what he's looking for. To streamline searches, Info.com separates "free Web pages," which are presented on the left side of the search results, from sponsored Web pages, which are on the right.


Full article:

http://www.suntimes.com/output/business/cst-fin-info18.html

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Friday, October 15, 2004

Evite and CitySearch joint effort to personalized online experience

One of the most interesting topics from Web 2.0 was personalized search. It was very clear that most search engines are collecting bookmarks and saving search history for more than one reason. Of course, bookmarks and history are great features. However, the goal is to collect enough information about the user to be able to add context to the search.

Well, other companies happened to already have both user communities and lots of information about them. InterActiveCorp owns Evite and CitySearch. IAC is aggregating the data from both sites to recommend things and places to its users. It basically looks at how your Evite friends rated and commented on CitySearch to provide insightful information about things you may be interested in.

Personalization is definitely making a difference in many areas besides search.

Here is a review from Clickz:

http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3421831

AOL to launch a desktop search solution with new browser

AOL is joining google in the desktop search space. Here are the details from Cnet:

America Online on Thursday confirmed that it is testing a new search engine that scans for files on a PC's hard drive, mirroring a similar product unveiled this week by Google.

AOL's desktop search was not developed in-house but is powered by a third-party's technology, according to a source familiar with the plans. While the source would not reveal AOL's desktop search partner, this person said it was not Google.


The desktop search tool is currently being offered as a feature within a test version of a standalone Web browser that AOL is developing, the source said.

AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley confirmed that the desktop search tool is being tested alongside the AOL Browser but declined to elaborate further. She said the AOL Browser will launch as early as November.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Lycos Debuts Social Sharing Platform

Lycos today announced the beta release of Lycos Circles, a "social sharing platform" that focuses on helping users keep in touch with people they already know, rather than on meeting new people.

"Lycos Circles gives users a one-stop shop for sharing things, discussing and staying in touch with their favorite circles of people," said David Kim, CEO of Lycos. "Lycos Circles helps you be more efficient at socializing and staying connected with family, friends and the groups you care about most."

Lycos intends to leverage the sites within its network to offer Circles users ways to create content with Web publishing, blog and photo album tools on Tripod and Angelfire; to find content, with Lycos People Search and Discussion Search; and to share that content through Lycos Circles, according to Lauren Bigelow, VP of product management.

"It's a publishing platform that's similar to a blog, but you decide who has permission to see each item. You get to decide how much you want to expose to each person," Bigelow said.

http://circles.lycos.com

Google Desktop Search Launches

As far as the user is concerned, Google's Desktop Search seamlessly integrates your hard drive into Google.com. "Desktop" becomes another tab, right next to "Web", "Images", and the like (your data stays on your hard drive, of course, but to most mere mortals, it might seem like in fact it lives "out there on the web.")

Here is the full review by John Battelle:

http://battellemedia.com/archives/000966.php

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

What's going on at MSR labs?

Microsoft Corp. is quickening its march into search by setting up an advisory group of industry insiders to preview its search-engine plans and research.

Microsoft's Internet division has invited dozens of Webloggers, researchers and others to its Redmond, Wash., campus next week for an event called "Search Champs." They are scheduled to hear about and test upcoming features for MSN Search and to meet researchers from Microsoft Research, according to several people invited to participate.

Here is the summary:

http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/003149.html

Clickfraud: Whose Problem, FTC, Search Engines Or Advertisers?

Adam Penenberg takes the US Federal Trade Commission to task for not doing more to prevent clickfraud in his Wired commentary, Click Fraud Threatens Web. It's not clear whether the FTC has actually had many complaints about this. The agency itself does comment in the article that it is more concerned with actions that directly impact consumers, rather than advertisers.
Clickfraud exists, no doubt about that. We've had panels discussing it at our SES shows since August 2002 and even started a dedicated session on the topic last year. Interest in that session has been growing. Here's a write-up of the most recent one held last August: Auditing Paid Listings & Click-fraud Issues.

The major search engines already do things internally to combat clickfraud. However, they could likely do more. A good start might be to actually participate in panels discussing the issue.
I've invited both Overture and Google each time we do one, and they always decline. Reason? They don't feel they can discuss the issue without giving away stuff that might help fraudsters. In reality, there's a lot they can and should say on the subject to better help advertisers protect themselves.

Heck, Overture provides some of this information on its site already: Advertiser Security. So does Google: AdWords click quality. Interestingly, neither make use of the word "fraud" in relation to clickfraud activity, preferring the more euphemistic "invalid click," as far as I can tell.
Penenberg's article makes mention of a recent report suggesting that 50 percent of paid clicks might be fraudulent. MediaPost has a write-up from last month about this: Pay-Per-Trick: Half Of All Ad Clicks Deemed Fraud.

It's a scary stat, but that's also for certain industry categories, which remain unnamed by the source of the data, Clicklab. That firm also specializes in clickfraud detection, so it's obviously in its interest for the stats to sound as scary as possible. But despite those qualifiers, as said above, there's no doubt clickfraud happens.

This issue is one that will only grow, as more money is spent on search and contextual advertising. If the FTC doesn't step in, if the search engines are unable to police better, rest assured the advertisers themselves will take action. Indeed, a rumor that I and others have heard over the past few months is that one or more advertisers may be considering filing a lawsuit against the search companies for failure to do more to stop clickfraud.
Another good article on this topic came out from News.com in July: Exposing click fraud. Also in July, SearchDay ran Advertising & Click Fraud by Jessie Stricchiola, who's spoken on the topic at our SES shows since 2002. Jessie also provides further tips on her own site: Click Fraud - An Overview.

Finally, complete your reading list with India's secret army of online ad 'clickers'. This article that came out in May is probably most responsible for raising new awareness of this preexisting problem.

Is RSS a threat to Ebay?

Early adaptors of RSS technology are already realizing changes in their own online habits and surfing patterns. It is clear RSS is here to staty, so it would not take long until the masses start pulling rather than pushing.

Here is an interesting article about RSS enabling local trading. Ebay watch out!

http://www.brianstorms.com/archives/000451.html




Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The importance of "bloggers" for search companies

Jeremy Zawodny is one of the most active "search" bloggers out there. New Job (Again).

That blog, he notes in explaining his new position, has had much to do with his move into the new role of improving search products, communication about search, gathering feedback and recruiting people for Yahoo.

What I find most significant is that the move positions him as the first notable blogvangelist employed by a major search company.

Sure, Google has its own blog, launched in May. Yahoo has one as well, launched in August. It's more active than Google's, completely focused on search and frankly often times more interesting. But both remain corporate blogs. They don't reflect the unfiltered views of an individual.

Microsoft has had this type of blogger personality in the form of Robert Scoble. He's someone who works from Microsoft, is vocal about things there but doesn't necessarily follow the party line. He was also instrumental in pulling together Microsoft's recent Search Champs initiative.

Meanwhile, will Google and others feel compelled to find their own search personalities to speak to the blogosphere? Google actually has the longest standing unofficial spokesperson around, in
the form of GoogleGuy. However, GoogleGuy has to date only participated in the forumsphere.

Search blogs have been a key public relations front for all the search engines, given how bloggers will dissect any move and report on the latest findings through them. Now blogs seem to be opening up as a new PR front to compete in.

A recent Google Blog entry did see GoogleGuy edge into the blog world for the first time. However, he remains anonymous. Lifting the lid on his identity (an open secret among many involved in search marketing) might give Google a search personality of its own.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Keep it small: Start small and stay small

From Jason Fried:

I keep hearing about “scaling” issues. Will this scale? Will that scale? Our software is scalable. Etc. But there’s another kind of scaling — human scaling. And that’s the expensive kind. A lot of these new companies that are springing up already have 10, 15, 20 people on board (or are headed there soon). Those are big payrolls for companies generating little to no revenue. And when you have little to no revenue and you have 10, 15, 20 people on board, you have to start borrowing. And when you start borrowing you start going into debt. And when you start going into debt, you can’t continue to innovate or take chances. And then decisions are made that aren’t in the best interest of your customers. It’s a slippery slope. A slippery downward slope.

Aren’t big payrolls and large head counts Web 1.0? Nothing is worse for a start-up than big fat fixed costs. They are like trying to sprint with 50 lb ankle weights. Isn’t Web 2.0 in a large part about agility and flexibility?

So, my advice to these new companies with their new products and fresh-faced enthusiasm… Keep it small. Start small and stay small. Borrow from yourself before you borrow from someone else. You can have an impact with just a few people. You can build great products with a small team. You can do it on your own. You can.

http://www.37signals.com/svn/archives/000881.php

Post-bubble startups

By the end of September, there will have been more than 5,300 tech acquisitions in 2004, based on research from Mergerstat. The average reported selling price was $12 million; in two-thirds of the transactions, the prices were so small that buyers didn't disclose them. At this point in 2003, also a big year for small deals, there had been 4,500 tech acquisitions, averaging $12.5 million. Microsoft alone has bought 46 companies in the past four years; factor out the $100 million-plus deals, and most of Microsoft's acquisitions average a few million dollars. Oracle (ORCL) has been buying up small companies at the rate of about one per quarter, even as it pursues its $7.7 billion bid for PeopleSoft. Google (GOOG) has bought six small companies in the past 18 months. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), IBM (IBM), Intel (INTC), Symantec (SYMC), Germany's SAP -- indeed, all of tech's power elite -- have made stepped-up acquisitions of small fry an integral part of their strategies.

What's behind the spree? It's driven by powerful postboom dynamics in the tech industry. For starters, Google's recent public offering notwithstanding, the IPO market remains largely moribund and isn't likely to be an express elevator to glory for entrepreneurs and investors anytime soon. That means that a buyout by a larger company is now the surest route to a sizable payday -- and a steady job -- for entrepreneurs. Another factor: Commoditization has made the cost of many basic technology components, from superfast chips to heavy-duty storage systems, so cheap that it's easier than ever for a bare-bones operation to build new products. The emergence of Linux and standard programming languages like Java also has made it easier to write software that can be easily woven into existing applications.

More important, however, are the evolving positions of larger companies. In many cases they have emerged from the tech collapse more dominant than ever. The firestorm of the bust cleared out weaker competitors and underscored to technology buyers the virtue of teaming up with established players that can take the heat of tough times. Today it's harder than ever for upstart companies to crack some of the most lucrative tech markets. Equally important, large companies increasingly recognize that, with stock options no longer the lure they once were, the most cost-effective way to bring in new talent and to fund R&D is simply to buy up innovators and their ideas. "Big companies stink at innovation, and they know it," says Vivek Mehra, general partner at venture fund August Capital in Menlo Park, Calif. "There are a lot of chances for startups to fill the niches and holes in big companies' product lines."

http://www.business2.com/b2/web/articles/0,17863,696229-2,00.html


Friday, October 08, 2004

Pluck gets $8.5M from Mayfield VC

Web search technology developer Pluck Corp. of Austin, Texas, will support its innovative browsing companion technology with a new $8.5 million second round of funding led by Sand Hill Road blue-chip venture firm Mayfield.

The company, which introduced its new Web search application about five months ago, turned to first-time investor Mayfield of Menlo Park, Calif., and prior investor Austin Ventures of Austin for the funding. Pluck chief executive Dave Panos, a former venture partner with Austin Ventures, said the funding represented a "significant up round" but declined to provide further details.

http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2004/Oct/1080343.htm

About Pluck:

http://pluck.com/product/whatispluck.aspx

JotSpot: A new way to publish and share information

A new Palo Alto start-up called JotSpot launched on Wednesday, making available a Web-based product that it says will take emerging Wiki technology to a new level.

A Wiki, in its simplest form, is a Web site that can be written upon and edited by multiple users at once. So far, though, Wiki technology has focused more on straightforward text documents. JotSpot hopes to make Wikis more flexible, allowing people to build other applications -- such as data tabling or Web searching on their Wikis.

Thay just raised $5.2 million from Mayfield and Redpoint Ventures.

MercuryNews

MP3 from official launch at Web 2.0:

JotSpot mp3

Google aims at Amazon's "Search Inside the book"

Google's nearly year-old Google Print program is set for a huge expansion of content through the launch of a new program today allowing publishers to more easily submit material for inclusion.

From Search Engine Watch

http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3417941

What's going on at Google labs?

Peter Norvig, Ph.D., Director of Search Quality for Google revealed that Google had been Working on three different tasks to better understand the web.

1. Statistical machine translation
2. Named entities
3. Word clusters

Here is the full article:

http://www.searchenginelowdown.com/2004/10/web-20-exclusive-demonstration-of.html

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Google gets mobile, launches Google SMS

Google came out with a very cool way to search from mobile phones through SMS technology.

You’ll have to memorize the different query structures to make it work, but it’s a good start.

http://www.google.com/sms/

New Search Engine: HotRef

A startup company, hotref.com, founded by couple former netscape engineers claim they are providing better search technology than google, with additional functionalities to manage the search results.

It looks very similar to our mock up.

Check it out: http://www.hotref.com/

How it works:

http://www.hotref.com/help.php

Web 2.0: Search as a Platform by EK

Let’s start with the panel:

Steve Berkowitz, CEO, Ask Jeeves, Inc.
Udi Manber, CEO, A9
Louis Monier, Director, Advanced Technology Group, eBay
Christopher Payne, Corporate Vice President of MSN Search and Shopping, Microsoft, Inc.
Jeff Weiner, Senior Vice President, Search & Marketplace, Yahoo

Following you will find the keynotes:

Top improvements in the next 5 years:

UI

Louis Monier: New Technology that requires training the user is a lost cause. Google set the standard for search experience, so newcomers need to be very creative to incorporate new features in a simple UI.

Jeff Weiner: UI is where we are going to see the most improvement. As technology becomes available to search desktops, search local, search personal, etc., is going to be essential to have a single UI capable of delivering the right results.

Local Search

Jeff Weiner: The only way to attract more advertisers is to align search with users expectations. Example: Local Search is $100 billion market including yellow pages’ $14 billion, only 0.4% of it is online. As people change behavior and ad matching gets better, the advertiser will jump on.

Personalization:

Udi Manber: A9 is not collecting history and bookmarks because they believe it will change the way people search. They are doing so in order to aggregate the data and give context to the search query. INTERESTING TIP: A9 has been online for 9 months and they still think they need a lot more time to start aggregating data.

Udi Manber: Changing the ranking order is not a valid solution. Search Engines have to be able to provide a set of valid answers based on lots of knowledge about the user.

Christopher Pyne: MS is working in a project that engages user in a “search dialogue” to learn more about the intent of the user. We need to create an environment that allows knowing more than a 2.4 words query. Example: People don’t go to Best Buy and ask, “I want a dvd player”.

Jeff Weiner: We are starting to tap the “explicit” personal search through bookmarks, history, etc. I haven’t seen much efforts trying to understand the “implicit” search. We are going to see companies analyzing lots of variable involve in searching to capture the real intent of a query.

Improving Ranking

Jeff Weiner: Blogs have created an invaluable source of content hubs in the web. Yahoo uses certain blog communities to get immediate feedback on product improvements and beta releases. In the next 5 year, blogs will become the source of authority and a very viable alternative to the PageRank algorithm. (VERY INTERESTING)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Web 2.0 Day One

New search engine from Overtures' Bill Gross: Snap.com

Snap has some cool new features like:

- Nice tools to refine search results

- It assesses user intentions by licensing feeds from third party internet service providers, which have tracked anonymously, what people do after they've typed a specific term

- They use a different model to charge advertisers, they moved from the "pay per click" model to the "pay per conversion" model

Review

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-5397793.html

http://www.snap.com/

Friday, October 01, 2004

search-results

Ask Jeeves

www.askjeeves.com

Ask Jeeves is a search engine and bookmarking tool.

Pros

- Very good UI
- Sharing links an comments over e-mail
- Keeps track of history

Cons

- Does not have a group features
- Can't assign keywords to saved sites, organized in folders



A9

www.a9.com

A9 is a search engines (powered by Google) that offers bookmarking and search history features.

Pros

- Very good UI
- Nice integration of web search and bookmarks

Cons

- Lacks group features

HotRef

www.hotref.com

Hotref is a search engine that allows user to bookmark and rank search results. It also includes a group feature to share bookmarks.

Pros

- Easy to rank and bookmark

Cons

- Does not search keywords
- Does not offer search feature for groups
- Very easy to spam, weak ranking policies

Eurekster

www.eurekster.com

Eurekster is a search engine that personalizes results by observing users' searching patterns. It also offers a group feture that allows member to share sites in a given topic.

Pros

- Uses an impicit mechanism to personalize results
- Users can delete unwanted results directly from the results page
- Users can promote resutls to show on top for a given query

Cons

- Not easy to use
- Broken workflow
- Can't search for groups
- Group feature does not work unless users invites other users

Search results pp


Search Results

StumbleUpon

www.stumbleupon.com

StumbleUpon offers a new way to surf the web based on social network concepts

Pro

- Recommends sites for a specific topic based on the selected topics and other people preferences
- Easy mechanisms to provide feedback

Cons

- Its a surfing tool, not a search engine
- Results are most of the time not useful
- Users have to share personal information for the system to work

Snap

www.snap.com

Snap is a search engine that allows user to refine results based on 5 criterias or by adding keywords.

Pros

- Keeps track of searching patterns to construct ranking

Cons

- Very confusing UI

Mooter

www.mooter.com

Mooter dinamically clusters resutls into concepts. It presents results in a graphical interface.

Pro

- Clean UI


Cons

- Not a bookmarking tool
- Poor results

Pluck

www.pluck.com

Pluck is a RSS aggregator, bookmarking tool and search engine (uses google for the web)

Pros

+ Integrates 3 features into one solution
+ Searches in google, amazon and ebay
+ Includes toolbar for quick bookmarking
+ Customizable reminders for ebay and amazon

Cons

+ Very busy and confusing UI

del.icio.us

http://del.icio.us

del.icio.us is a bookmarking tool

Pros:

Fully indexed shared bookmarking system
Building blocks for reputation system
Can remove posts you don't like
Can hide all posts from a specific user
You can ignore keywords from a specific user
Keeps track of number of people that have bookmarked an item and uses that to rank the index entry
Active developer community adding 'hacks'
Posts are done via link bar javascripts including one which is a nice popup:
All the text above was pre-populated based on the page I was viewing (http://www.nufire.com in this case)
Main search screen is clean looking
Has dynamic keyword browsing with ability to add and remove keywords
Full RSS integration (keywords, users and queries)
You can 'subscribe' to users and search queries

Cons:

Confusing UI
*Very* Slow (minutes at some points, and even at its best it was slow)
No toolbar
No 'shortcuts' which take you directly to the target page
Does not have an integrated personal vs all searchbox
Can can't be anonymous
Bookmarks are not searchable immediately
Homepage is browse and not search
Only does dynamic keyword browsing in the context of a single users bookmarks
This is probably a limitation of their underlying implementation

Conclusion:

Probably the closest thing out there to what we are trying to do Performance and UI issues will keep them a nitch player for now

Simpy

www.simpy.com

Simpy is a bookmarking tool

Pros:

Does full text search of bookmarks
RSS integration at the user and site level
Posts are done via link bar javascripts
Keyword navigation (broken)
Recommends users based on bookmarking patterns

Cons

Does not archives bookmarks
Does not search all users bookmarks
Does not allow groups to share bookmarksEarly stage UI

Furl

www.furl.net

Furl is a bookmarking tool (Looksmart acquired Furl in Sept. 2004)

Pros:

Archives copy of bookmark
Does full text search of bookmarks
RSS integration at the user and site level
Posts are done via link bar javascripts

Cons

Does not search all users bookmarks
Does not allow groups to share bookmarks
Early stage UI

Spurl

www.spurl.net

Sprul is a bookmarking tool

Pros:

Bookmarks archival
Bookmarks full text search
Searches all users bookmarks, bookmarks ranked by popularity
RSS integration at the site and user level

Cons

Internet search poorly integrated
Sharing feature very rigid
Early stage UI