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Showing posts from 2008

Vertical search vs. Google

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I have blogged in the past about how Google's PageRank algorithm is providing decreasingly useful search results, and how vertical search is much more targeted and useful. The main issue here is that most searches are context-driven, for example when you type in a word and hit search, are you looking to buy something, a definition, or a review?

The vast majority of my searches are vertical searches from the Firefox search toolbar. I have installed the following search engines into the dropdown:

Amazon
Dictionary.com
EBay
Facebook
Google Maps
IMDb
LinkedIn
MySpace
Songza
TheFind.com
Thesaurus.com
WhoIs Lookup
Wikipedia
Yelp
YouTube
Mycroft (to find more search engines to add!)

For example, if I hear of a new artist on the radio and want to check out more tracks, I select Songza. If I want to check out their fan presence I select MySpace. And if I want to buy tracks or the album, I select Amazon. Picking the search vertical and then typing the search term is much more efficient than typing in th…

An article is to a newspaper as a track is to an album

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A thought occurred to me today while reading Virginia Hefferman's latest The Medium column in the Sunday New York Times, one of the best columns covering transitions in the media industry. Her article Content and Its Discontents laments how old media is becoming decimated. Yes, clearly reading a magazine or newspaper cover-to-cover is very old school, or as Jon Stewart poignantly nailed it with a joke newspaper entitled "Cincinnati Dump Accompaniment".
But does it necessarily mean that content is dead just because newspapers and magazines are effectively dead? A newspaper column is to a newspaper as a track is to an album. The music industry has gone through a very similar transition as newspapers and magazines. Albums are definitely dead. Labels are pretty much dead. But music is flourishing! Fans can purchase tracks for a $1. A band of two like Ghostland Observatory or Trifonic can create amazing music that used to take bands of at least four. 
Distributing a music vide…

Up next from Apple: Apple TVs

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Apple's next move occurred to me while I was walking by my local Apple store: Apple iTV, which will be:Wall-mountable 37", 42", 50", 60+" LCD screensLook cool, with a hip Apple logoStream iTunes video and audio content from the web and from your MacHave special apps on the appstore that run on your TV (sports scores, etc.)Cable card compatible so you won't need a cable boxWirelessly display your MacBook's video feediPhone-like touch screen remote controlInclude a browser controllable by above remote control's keyboardBuilt-in DVR
So a very cool looking TV that is plug-and-play capable of showing video rentals and playing music. This will do to Sharp/Sony/Samsung/Comcast what the iPhone did to the Blackberry and AT&T: cost more, eviscerate the market, and bypass the network operator. Sweeeet.

Websites are so over

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I have posted a few times about how I often can go an entire day without going to a website, and instead spend my day in Google Reader to read content, iGoogle to see headlines and realtime information like stock quotes and weather, and Facebook for social information. Apparently I am not the only one spending most of my web time on these widget-oriented sites. Alexa 3 year usage graphs for top brands that I picked out at random all show decreasing or flat usage. Brands like FedEx and McDonalds are beginning to realize that their web presence is being increasingly ignored. Banner ad campaigns are increasingly expensive due to CPM price increases as ad placement competition increases. And to top it off, users hate banner ads more and more, so clickthrough rates (CTRs) are going down! Banner ad buyers now pay more for less! People don't go to brand web sites anymore, banner ads cost more, and people are not clicking on banner ads. These are trends that are not going to rever…

Widgets: the future of online ads

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This post was also published in BusinessWeek.Widgets: The Future of Online Ads
Look to the evolution of television advertising to understand the necessity of widgets in today's online world

The sheer volume of Web sites has grown so overwhelming that an increasing number of consumers—not just those in their 20s—are adopting multipurpose tools to help them manage and personalize the vast amount of data thrown at them every day. The mainstream adoption of online social networks such as Facebook and MySpace and personalized home pages such as iGoogle and Netvibes reflects attempts by consumers to make the Web more manageable. This new mindset, not surprisingly, also holds for the way in which the audience is willing to engage with ads. Advertisers, many of which have only just begun shoveling more of their marketing dollars into promotional banners and boxes on Web sites, had better heed this shift sooner than later. Some Web trends prove to be fads, of course. But when hordes of consu…