Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yahoo and Microsoft have gotten together.

Announced this morning, Microsoft and Yahoo have signed an agreement to join search forces in an attempt to end their irrelevance in that space. An oddly out-dated looking website has also been created to pimp the agreement here.

Some bullets:

  • The deal extends for 10 years (which seems like far too long a commitment)
  • Bing will drive search, algorithmically, but Microsoft has a 10 year license to integrate any existing Yahoo search technologies. So there's some potential there for a better combined product.
  • Yahoo gets to sell search for both companies (although "premium" partners are specifically addressed).
  • Self-serve customers for both companies will funnel through Microsoft's AdCenter interface, which needs (and should get) dramatic usability improvement.

Ultimately (and assuming the DOJ approves the deal) this is probably good for the public in general. My personal experience with AdCenter results has been pretty poor, but adding all of Yahoo traffic should certainly help (should be approximately 30% of total search traffic). If Microsoft is serious about competing with Google however, particularly in the self-serve realm, they will absolutely need to improve AdCenter. Otherwise this merger just creates larger "also-ran".


Monday, July 27, 2009

AOL and Google have broken up.

Google has sold it's 5% stake in AOL back to Time-Warner
, for about a 1/4 of the original purchase price (the initial investment was 1 billion, the repayment was only 283 million). Not that this is really a surprise, as Google had already written down 726 million of that initial investment.

That repayment puts AOL's value at about 5.7 billion (based on share price).

Not sure what this will mean (if anything) to AOL's search partnership with Google, which has helped AOL command a 3% share of the search pie. The current deal runs until December 2010.

Gates 911 call and arrest report released

It's worth noting, I think, that the caller, Lucia Whalen, seems awfully calm during the call, and never mentions anything to indicate that the alleged "burglers" were black men. Even more interesting, she claims that she never spoke with the arresting (or assisting) officer at the scene.

Whalen's attorney told CNN, "Let me be clear: She never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene. And she never said to any police officer or to anybody 'two black men.' She never used the word 'black.' Period."

The arrest record indicates otherwise. In it, officer Crowley claims to have spoken with a woman outside the residence before he approached who identified herself as the 911 caller, and who had "observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch" and that they appeared to have been attempting to force the door. It also indicates that Sgt. Crowley ultimately retreated from the residence after verifying Mr. Gates' identity because the "acoustics in the kitchen and foyer" were making it difficult for him to communicate with his dispatch. Gates then, as we know, followed him outside, and was arrested after some additional carrying-on.

Crowley notes that he was "quite surprised and confused" by the behavior Gates exhibited towards him...and I can't really blame him. Upon advising Mr. Gates that he was leaving the residence, and would gladly speak to him outside if he wanted, Gates allegedly responded "Ya, I'll speak to your mama outside".


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pointroll takes grassroots Fatboy promotion to "the streets"

Or the buildings next to the streets, in Reston. maybe there's no connection at all, and it's just some tweeners trying to rebel against their oppressive yuppie parents. But the resemblance is kinda uncanny.


Monday, July 13, 2009

SEO = voodoo

And Google = the Devil/an autocracy/inherently evil

Some anonymous donkey with an obvious anti-Google agenda wrote an open letter to TechCrunch about how Google hates him, and needs to be regulated. It's a fundamentally flawed opinion however, because Mr. Anonymous seems to believe that Search is a Marketing tool. Not a discovery tool.

One of his many complaints seems to be that paid search results are based not solely on PPC bid, but also on click through rate. But, um...shouldn't relevance to the customer be part of the equation? Just because your company is willing to spend $35 to elevate your ad for the "Sham-WOW!" to me doesn't mean I want to see it. He even seems to argue that Google should be required to document for him exactly how he can get his ad to appear (organically and paid search) in the top 3. Which would render Google completely irrelevant to the consumer. Unless the consumer wants to see a "Sham-WOW!" ad everytime he searches.

Mr. Anonymous has a bit of an inflated sense of his own importance. And frankly, that of search in general.

His claim that "search is the dominant methodology for consumers to find what they are looking for" rings absolutely inacurate. Even if you shrink the playing field to just the is just one of many tools. Consumers use Yelp, for example, to find restaurants. Or Tripadvisor to find hotels. Or Travelocity/Orbitz/Kayak for airfare.

He also goes as far as to imply that Google cares SO much about him, that his search results might suffer if they were to find out that he's also engaged with Yahoo and Bing.

I get his frustration. SEM is WILDLY inconsistent. There seems to be little pattern to results for similar terms on Google, Bing and Yahoo. Or even the same term, on the same Search Provider, over different days.

I also like his attempt to make a case that small businesses aren't capable of promoting themselves without the services of an agency. Maybe that's his whole point. Maybe's he the Biz Dev Manager for a SEM company. Otherwise, he's just nuts.

Teens don't like Twitter either.

A 15 year old intern at Morgan Stanley was asked to write a report on his peer's media usage.

According to him, posting on twitter is "pointless". Funny...I've been saying the same thing.

I feel so young.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

social networking and college football

ESPN published the first of a 4 part series yesterday looking at the "impact of online social networks on college athletics", and it's a fairly interesting low-tech peek into how high-tech tools are being used by low-tech coaching staffs. John Calipari, who recently became the Basketball coach at the the University of Kentucky, is a particularly good example. An admitted "technophobe", Calipari is the most followed college coach on Twitter (@UKCoachCalipari) with over 350,000 followers, but apparently doesn't quite grasp the process. So he texts his tweets to his Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations, who then updates the Twitter account.

I think I'll start applying for Associate Athletic Director of Media Relations positions.

It's also interesting to see how slow the NCAA has been to address social networking. College coaches face a mountain of regulations on the manner in which they can contact potential high school age recruits. They are severely limited in the number of times they can make phone calls, or send correspondence through the mail. In 2007, the NCAA prohibited texting. There is no limit, however, to a coaches ability to direct-message on Twitter, and to send private messages on Facebook. Even if those messages are received by the recruit on their phone. And even if, as in Calipari's case, those tweets originated as texts anyway.