ThreadWatch, Contextual Ads, & Noise

Recently NickW started testing IntelliTXT. I dislike those ads. The perfect example of why I think they suck is when the people from Vibrant Media posted "feel free to email us directly" and the word email became one of their green ad links.

The problem with those little green ads is that they are more noise, which goes counter to the less noise more signal tagline on the site.

The audience of ThreadWatch has some serious cash, but what they are most interested in that which is shared freely amongst friends.
The people you make money off are not necissarily going to be the same people who help build up the network though, but you still can leverage that market position and those friendships to help sell a related idea.

I think if Nick created a guide to community building and blogging it would get far more support than my ebook does.

One of Nick's friends said that he wouldn't want to let a guide to cloning ThreadWatch to get out there, but:

  • if they were smart enough to clone it they probably wouldn't need a guide

  • few people are going to want to work as hard as Nick has building up that site
  • few people have as many friends as Nick does
  • eventually the fakeness or cloneness comes out in the writing if people try to clone it
  • without a highly profitable business model few people will likely want to clone it
  • adding more and a wider variety of advertisements to that site goes counter to why it became successful
  • as you add noise you lose mindshare, and that is the only thing that will make it possible for others to duplicate ThreadWatch...if it becomes more noise less signal

The first version of my ebook was free and sucked, but over time it got better. If Nick threw something out there and was open to feedback then the people there would help make sure he was offering something they would want to recommend, plus they would be more invested into helping it become successful if they offered suggestions and feedback and his site saved them a bunch of time.

Even if Nick starts off as only a 10 or 20 page guide it can get reshaped and improved as time passes. The key is to just pick an idea and start writing about it. Some people who in the past sent me hate mail now point unrequested link into my sites in part because I accepted their feedback.

As search algorithms advance guides which help people do well with community interaction will have far more value than guides about algorithms and engines, because ultimately the algorithms and engines are just trying to emulate people. For many people it will be far easier to create something others want than to push something they don't.

JupiterMedia Sells SearchEngineWatch

Well definately huge news for those of us in and around the search space...Jupitermedia, the owners of the #1 search related site sold SearchEngineWatch and the ClickZ network for $43 million to London-based trade publisher Incisive Media plc.

Reading Meckler's blog you never would have guessed he would do such a thing.

I just can't see being the #3 stock photography resource as being a better market position than the single most authoriatative voice on search. What am I missing?

from MarketingVox

Search Links

Eric Schmidt lecture at University of Washington
Google may be in the S&P 500 within 12 months

Google to open a new R&D development location - the timing of this news perhaps trying to lower the IPO value of Baidu
Baidu remove links to thousands of MP3s - perhaps trying to look more legal and investor friendly to have greater IPO value

reported earnings:

Yahoo (YHOO) said it earned $755 million, or 51 cents a share. This compares to earnings of $113 million, or 8 cents a share in the year-ago period. Excluding $563 million in profit related to a sale, Yahoo earned 13 cents a share, in line with expectations. Yahoo also generated sales of $1.253 billion, up 51% from a year ago. Excluding the cost Yahoo pays to Web distribution partners, revenue grew to $875 million, below expectations of $881 million. Shares of Yahoo rose 3% to $37.73 in regular trading, but fell sharply in late trading.

Yahoo! opened a research & development lab at Berkeley

MSN Search:
a while ago they posted about some of their new advanced search operators on their blog.

IAC / Ask:
today IAC completed the Ask acquisition
Expedia spinoff to occur week of August 8th.

Bill Gross, founder of pay per click marketing, now loudly toots the click fraud horn:

Gross is among those who believe click fraud is a big problem. He aims to change things with a "cost per action" system that only charges ad commission when a purchase is actually completed.

"I believe the commercial side of search will evolve toward cost-per-action in the next five to 10 years," Gross said.

If people realize the cost per action would it make them question the relevancy or purpose of the engine?

New Blog about Search Conference, Alan Meckler on Getting Lucky

I don't envy how much work Danny Sullivan has to do. On top of all he does now there is a new blog about the Search Engine Strategies conference.

Alan Meckler announced the new blog on his blog, and spoke about how the network came together:

It is quite amazing to me how this all came together over the previous 8 years -- starting with the acquisition of in 1997. We had no idea back then that Search would be the killer application of the Internet. Nor did we have such an inkling back in 2001 when we launched the first SES show or when we purchased in September of 2000.

Think of all the traditional print media companies that missed the boat in covering this area ranging from Ziff Davis, CMP Media, IDG, VNU and Crains. Reliance on print is the factor of why these guys missed the boat and we hit the jackpot. People want such news online and not in print.

Success is sometimes blinding, and the success of other companies is what blinded them to the opportunities Alan Meckler grabbed.

It is amazing to think how new the web is and how much money some companies are worth that live and die by the web. I also feel there is a bunch more I could do to ensure I am more future friendly with my business models and ideas.

Traffic as a Form of Currency

Geoffrey Mack, of Alexa, writes about the lopsided distribution of traffic:

Out of a total of 18 million sites to choose from, the Top 500 represent less than .003% of sites. But, as you would expect, these sites get a disproportionate amount of traffic. In fact they get 45% of all traffic. No, that's not a misprint.

Like the distribution of wealth on the planet, the distribution of traffic on the Web is extremely lopsided. The Top 500 are champagne and caviar. Sites 501 - 100,000 are meat and potatoes. The rest are hungry.

Although I am more of a fan of meat and potatoes than caviar my new goal is to eventually be in the top 500 then. Maybe not with this particular site, but with one. Not so much for wealth, but for the challenge of it. :)

It would also be interesting to check how the ratios changed over time. Is traffic consolidating into the top 500? How often do new sites break in? I would gladly link into that sort of data. They could even make monthly reports from similar ideas that keep building exposure and authority for their brand. is an amazing resource at their disposal.

Based on Alexa's understanding of traffic patterns they have to be able to leverage that some way, maybe to show people where they think market opportunities exist? Some search engines could do the same thing too. Although one Google employee told me my idea was "evil" I still am watching and waiting for the Google Hedge Fund :)

Google Investing in Current Communications Group, a Start-up Broadband Firm

US Laws have been favorable to big players who own the information pipes. In order to avoid getting in some way marginalized Google wants to help people bypass those lines.

From the Journal:

Current Communications says its uploads are as speedy as its downloads. That could come in handy for Google's video-search functions. "As part of our corporate mission, we are interested in promoting universal access to the Internet for users," Google, of Mountain View, Calif., said in a statement, declining to provide any further details about its investment.

The article also reports the FCC also likes the idea:

Officials at the Federal Communications Commission have expressed support for power-line services because they could expand the availability of broadband and would give consumers more choice of providers, perhaps lowering prices.

Reuters stated:

Current, a closely held company, offers its high-speed service in the Cincinnati area and is expected to use its new investment to expand, the Journal said.

Becoming the Noise You Once Replaced

For a while I was a big user of RSS & feed readers, sometimes reading over 100 sites a day.

Ever since I went to WMW New Orleans I have not fired up the old feed reader. Each day I neglect it it becomes harder for me to want to turn it on. Many of the posts (and I am just as guilty as everyone else) are things you can get here or there or everywhere else, so on the whole, in some ways, I think blogs are starting to become the noise they replaced (and that does not even include the spam journals).

There is something cool about a clean slate, but that fear of missing something means that in a couple days I will probably read a half of month worth of posts on about 150 blogs.

This has nothing to do with search, but has everything to do with how people organize and digest information. It would be great to see a feed reader that bolded or highlighted posts which were well cited or deemed popular or important by other user set criteria.

Why doesn't one of the feed reader creators partner with Technorati to help create a feed reader that helps point out what is important and needs to be read. Also it would be cool if feed readers would learn reading habbits and help you optimize your way through reading your long list of posts.

There are so many obvious ways to extract meaningful data that are just waiting to be developed. Has Google only ignored this market opportunity because it does not have an associated proven business model yet? Do they not think AdSense for feeds works well enough?

Sorry for the noisy rant post. :)

Stocks that Will Rock Your World

Rick Aristotle Munarriz, from The Motley Fool, wrote an article looking at the downfall of and the resurgance of online music.

Yet there's a reason why there isn't a single worthy investing angle when it comes to buying into the trend towards showcasing the unheard. No one is doing it right.

The broadband migration continues. Bandwidth and servers get perpetually cheaper, yet the market seems to think that the only money to be made in digital music is in pitching popular tracks for a buck or less, or coming up with some portable aural smorgasbord solution of commercial tunes. In a word, strategy is primitive.

That's why I believe that, years from now, the major labels won't be the same batch of old-school vinyl pushers you see today. As ludicrous as it may seem, I think that the real power brokers in the music industry will be Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT).

Oh, they don't even know it yet. It may be years before they even come around to connecting the dots, but they will connect those dots. That's because those three companies are the ones leading the way in localized search.

Even as a search marketer I think it is hard to appreciate what an effect search will have on society.

Watching a Business Model Get Marginalized

So I work pretty hard trying to keep up with everything that is going on in the SEO / SEM space, but search engines have been releasing a ton of products recently.

Combine that with the fact that SEO is increasingly complex and it gets tough to write a book that is useful and comprehensive and allows novice to intermediate level SEOs to learn enough to do well, especially while still keeping the book short enough that people would want to read through it.

Currently my ebook is about 200 pages, with about 50 of those pages being reference links, the cover page, the table of contents, and that sort of stuff.

After Yahoo! released their most version of MyWeb 2.0 Danny Sullivan wrote a subscription required approximately 25 page article on Yahoo!'s search personalization. There was no fluff in his article either. 25 pages of useful information about Yahoo! personalized search. I think reading a ton every day and summarizing on a blog sorta forces me to become better at filtering information. To appreciate how hard it is to learn and balance it all while working for a few clients as well, I recently wrote the following about pay per click marketing:

A friend of mine is writing a book about PPC right now I think. It can be done well, but to me you need to have a large ad spend to really appreciate how the programs change at various spend levels, and I don't want to be managing all that ad spend. I like the idea of going to Coachella or Burning Man or a small remote island for a while. It is hard to do that stuff with huge ad spend unless you have staff and some office (and offices are evil).

To me writing a PPC book is probably far better for the writer than the consumers. eventually PPC becomes a zero sum game, and it costs much more than effective SEO does.

with SEO you can have far more effect cheaper. and PPC is getting absurdely complex as well:

  • with Google they factor keyword CTR into the CPC equasion, but now they also factor in the ad copy as well.

  • add to that the CTR they use to figure out relevancy is not the same one that shows in your account.
  • add that to the three syndication groups (4 if you count the cpm site targeting only)
  • then there is exact match, phrase match, and broad match (as well as negative keywords)
  • there is in trial, on hold, disabled, normal statuses
  • and then the issue of budgeting, and geotargeting, etc etc etc
  • and then there are oolies like dynamic keyword insertion and some search engines following and indexing some tracking URLs

and that's just Google AdWords, of course Overture is a different system as well. MSN promises to have a system more complex than either Overture or Google.

To me it seems both PPC and SEO will get too complex for the average newbie to be able to do well unless they have a great site or the market is not competitive. Hopefully that is still a bit off from now though because I need to change the biz model before we go too far down that slope.

Ian Turner Found

Good News:
Ian Turner was found, and DaveN has the whole story. This really shows the power of a strong viral story. Technorati shows Ian Turner as the top search for the past hour.

Rant about Hotel:
Part of Ian's experience involves a lack of quality sleep leading up to his departure. At some points in time, the hotel where the WMW conference was held had air conditioning that was so cold that you wanted to borrow a coat off someone. At other times the same hotel had me sweating just standing around (even when sober).

I also paid for a wireless connection and a wired internet connection while I stayed there. Frequently neither worked. When I called the desk to ask about it I was assured that I would not be charged for the time the services were down, and when I checked out they still charged me. I still need to write the people at that hotel a nastygram or reverse the credit card charge.

I am not usually one to complain about a hotel, but that hotel sucked. When you are putting together conferences of that size a bit more thought needs to go into where it is held.

Other Recent Important Stories:
Sandra Day O'connor, one of the US supreme court justices just announced her retirement. This has huge implications for how laws can be wrote and what laws will remain legal.

Today is also the day of Live8, where there are a network of concerts and meetings around the world aimed pushing the largest countries to end poverty in some of the poorest countries.

Sure Technorati is just a small snapshot of what is going on in the world, but the fact that NickW, Danny Sullivan, Brett Tabke, and company helped push a story to be more visible than ending world poverty is amazing.

What would happen if the SEO community used that same level of influence to try to change the image of SEO for the better?