Category Archives: internet news

The future of Google is.. cloudy?

With it’s seat firmly set on being the king of search, Google is constantly growing, and evolving. It’s a living, breating, life sustaining organ of the web, and as such, any moment of service problems is almost immediately noticeable.

Gmail, Google news, Blogger, Youtube etc. the list of companies under Googles umbrella, and in their repetoire is quite large, and seeing as acquisitions are once again on the table, soon to be growing. With such a huge toolkit of technologies available to them, it should be understandable that the odd disruption of service were to happen; even though it is rare.

And now, with Google encouraging users to change their productivity apps from the desktop, to the “cloud”, loss of service is beginning to become an issue. Not because it happens every day, or even if it happens once a month. The simple idea behind cloud computing being having “your computer” available to you anywhere is an incredible incentive. But, if when you go to use the cloud, you can’t access it because of a glitch, programming error, someone trips on a plug etc, it is a problem.

It’s like showing up to your current workplace, and your computer just not booting up. And the tech manager, is in the next city over, trying to communicate to you what’s wrong over the phone, but because he’s using sign language you can’t tell what’s going on, or when it’s going to be fixed. All you can do, is wait until then.

Cloud computing, may very well end up being the greatest boon to business productivity the world has seen to date. But as of right now, it’s still a brand new technology, and as such, will encounter hiccups, glitches, crashes, and downtime. Should Google be knocked, stripped, and beaten down for it? Not in my opinion, but everyone has their own.

For everything that Google does impressively, how easy is it to forget, when they’re trying to make a step into a previously, unknown sector.

Google, the Department of Justice, and you

In it’s bid to digitize the world, Google has moved forward again in it’s application to digitize the worlds libraries. Lately however, things have taken a decidedly more serious turn with the Department of Justice weighing in with it’s concerns. The DoJ became the latest party to file its concerns about Google’s book settlement and it appears the search giant will have to either make tweaks to the deal, or allow the feds—and maybe even Congress—to poke around. You should be betting on the tweaks.

While there were some good points made by the DoJ :

The United States strongly supports a vibrant marketplace for the electronic distribution of copyrighted works, including in-print, out-of-print, and so-called “orphan” works. The Proposed Settlement has the potential to breathe life into millions of works that are now effectively off limits to the public. By allowing users to search the text of millions of books at no cost, the Proposed Settlement would open the door to new research opportunities. Users with print disabilities would also benefit from the accessibility elements of the Proposed Settlement, and, if the Proposed Settlement were approved, full text access to tens of millions of books would be provided through institutional subscriptions.

They also made it very clear, that there are valid concerns about the settlement as it exists now.

..the breadth of the Proposed Settlement – especially the forward-looking business arrangements it seeks to create – raises significant legal concerns. As a threshold matter, the central difficulty that the Proposed Settlement seeks to overcome – the inaccessibility of many works due to the lack of clarity about copyright ownership and copyright status – is a matter of public, not merely private, concern. A global disposition of the rights to millions of copyrighted works is typically the kind of policy change implemented through legislation, not through a private judicial settlement.

In the end, Google is most likely going to make a few tweaks to it’s compensation agreement and try to placate everyone as best as possible.

Google vs Bing vs Yahoo

In a competition to find search engine bugs, Google came out on top of Bing, while also earning higher general praise than Microsoft’s new search engine. People in over 50 countries participated in the competition, held by uTest, a Southborough, Massachusetts based Q&A company.

While top spot went to Google earning the highest marks, almost a third of the testers were pleasantly surprised by Bing, and 10 percent said they’d make it their primary search engine, after having tested Google and Yahoo as well. Still, 90 percent said they’d be sticking with Google, valuing its search accuracy above all.

Testers actually found the fewest bugs in Yahoo, with just 70 problems, though less participants focused on this departing search engine compared to the other two major search engines. Testers found 130 bugs in Google, with 8 percent classified as “showstoppers”, while 321 bugs were discovered in Bing, 14 percent of them showstoppers.

It’s not clear how bugs are determined, but they pertain to technical, functional, and user interface issues. Because known bugs don’t qualify, Google probably gets a pass here, as there could be well-reported problems that don’t show up in the results. By comparison, with Bing being less than four months old, there’s plenty of room for new problems to arise.

More interesting is the survey that uTest solicited from its testers after the contest. Google dominated these surveys, as the top choice for accuracy, real-time relevance, and page load speeds. In all categories, Bing ranked second and Yahoo came in third. A small percentage of testers also tried Google Caffeine, and were generally impressed. One tester said results came back twice as fast as Google’s existing engine.

If the survey results are at all representative of all users, it’s a blow to Microsoft, which has tried to market Bing as turning up better search results. However, Microsoft may recognize it’s losing this battle, instead of turning to new, flashy features such as visual search.

Hail to the king baby..

Fast Flip vs Visual Search

So Google has turned out a rendition of visual searching the internet of sorts in the form of Fast Flip. If you were to take Bings Visual Search and compare it to Fast Flip, it’s an interesting match up.

Take Bings Visual Search first off. It provides you broad search parameters from cars, and movies, to handbags and famous people. Picking a category, you’re greeted with anywhere from 20 to hundreds of images which you can mouse over to get a little information, or click through and gain relevant search results on your choice. It can be handy, and quick and easy to use to help find that new purchase you may be interested in, or putting a name to the face of that kind from that movie from way back when.

The downside to Visual Search, especially right now, are that the categories are built by Bing. In the short term, this just means you may not be able to utilize the new feature to find your next suit, or next pair of sexy heels. From an SEO stand point, it doesn’t change anything, as when you click through on your choice, Bing still builds a relevant list of results from the pages on the web.

Now, taking a look at Googles Fast Flip service. The best explanation would be Fast Flip imitates a conventional print publication by offering screenshots of the web pages containing relevant articles. The idea is, as a user, it becomes a more engaging experience, akin to flipping through the pages of a magazine or newspaper. Hence the name, Fast Flip. The content is provided via feeds, think a visual form of RSS, of which Google has 35+ current news sources providing “content”. When a headline catches your eye, clicking on the desired image brings you directly to the corresponding page.

The upside of Fast Flip being that you get current and recent events at your fingertips. The downside that I’ve seen, I’ve gotten a couple of odd results when using the search box. Getting an article about pregnancy weight gain when searching for christmas. From a search engine optimization sense, because the pages are acquired from feeds like RSS, unless you’re a part of that particular service, you won’t be picked up by Fast Flip.

The end of SEO?

The end of the world (of SEO) is coming! Or at least, that’s what some recent articles might tell you. Just a couple of erroneous statements I’ve read over the last few days:

“Social media (Twitter/Facebook etc) will soon be *the only* viable marketing medium”
There’s been loads of social mediums before Facebook and Twitter, and they’ve had their time and moved on. The net is an ever evolving, morphing, living thing, and just like everything living, it needs it’s heart and circulation. If you start following pages and links, all roads lead back to (you guessed it) Google (and other associated SE’s).

And one of the more confusing comments I’ve read to date;

“Google will stop using backlinks in the very near future”
Google’s (and other SE’s) index is built, in part, by the the way the web is interconnected; ie: backlinks. For them to stop using that method to crawl the web, and determine some level of relevance, they would have to “re-invent the wheel”. Seeing as that hasn’t happened yet, I won’t be holding my breath for this to happen either.

Search engine optimization and marketing strategies are an ever changing, and growing field. Full of pitfalls, short cuts, good ideas and bad. But it’s not going away, it will merely begin to fly instead of run; adapt and survive.

Online News Site Pioneers New Journalism Model

An ex-AOL executive has launched a new online news delivery system in America which hopes to capitalise on the changing trend from traditional print advertising to online advertising.

Advertising spend in traditional media has been on a downward trend for a while now, whereas internet advertising has been a lone bastion of growth in an otherwise declining industry. Newspapers, journals and magazines in particular, the “print” collective, have suffered more than television and radio in terms of incoming advertising revenue.

As traditional journalism fades, the logical step is to move to online journalism and capture advertising space to compliment news articles online. Lewis Dvorkin, a previous writer for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal has formed True/Slant along with former colleagues from AOL News.

True/Slant officially launched some eight weeks ago in April but entered beta testing phase earlier today. The site is a mix of blogs and industry news generation, bringing together professional journalists from the BBC, Boston Globe, New York Times, CNN and other news services to contribute articles.

Adverts run alongside the articles, and contributors are either paid a stipend or a share of the online advertising revenue generated from the article. Mr Dvorkin’s vision is to create the newsroom of the future: “What we’re trying to do is combine traditional standards and values and standards of traditional media with dynamics of the web,” Mr Dvorkin told the Financial Times.

The project was given a $3 million financial backing from Forbes and Fuse Capital. True/Slant hopes to be at the forefront of news delivery online, enabling the internet community to “efficiently find relevant and interesting news culled by contributors they respect.”

Using Your News To Drive SEO

With more than 70 million people getting their news online every day, your news is about more than just reaching the media.

Your news can be a powerful tool to directly reach the millions of people searching for information online, drive traffic to your website and maximize your online visibility.

News search engines like Yahoo! News and Google News offer a great way to direct targeted traffic to your website and help you generate awareness about a topic or your company.

Not-So-Banner Year for Digital Part 3

Bring in the humans

To this point, the Web has been, by its nature, technology driven. Google is the most successful company of the Internet era thanks to its algorithm, a piece of technology adept at sorting the wheat from the chaff. Most of the leaps and bounds online have been in the realm of technology, whether it’s ad networks deciding marketing message placement by sniffing out users’ prior behavior or finely tuned measurement. Expect more advancement on those fronts, yet a greater emphasis on giving digital marketing a human face.

The algorithm is already getting a human touch with sites like Buzzfeed and Mahalo. Even Google is coming around to this notion by letting users tell it which sites are more relevant to them, a seemingly small step but one unthinkable for the engineer-driven Google just a couple years ago. New tools like Twitter will only increase the drive for people to connect with people, not just faceless entities. This will challenge marketing organizations and agencies, since humans don’t scale as easily as computers. The launch-and-forget mentality will need to give way to a 24 x 7 approach.

“There’s going to a big wake-up call for brands that the real work begins after the launch,” said David Armano, vp of experience design at digital agency Critical Mass. He sees cause marketing via social networks as a useful bridge to brands looking to infuse their mass reach ad tactics with a human touch.

Not-So-Banner Year for Digital Part 2

Social measures up

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s prediction that media would forever change with the advent of the popular social network’s ad platform is rightly ridiculed. Yet while advertisers have few success stories on sites like Facebook, the growth of the social Web is impossible to ignore. Facebook now adds a new user every seven seconds.

For all its growth and hype, social media has been unforgiving terrain for marketers. Their efforts to date have been decidedly experimental, consisting of sponsorships, ad placements or brand applications that have proven ineffective. “Whenever you try to apply a standard ad model to a social dynamic, it’s like oil and water,” said Sean Finnegan, chief digital officer at Starcom MediaVest Group.

Instead, look for marketers to weave social programs throughout their marketing, using free tools to monitor their brand health and respond to customer needs. Comcast, a brand with no shortage of detractors, has scored a rare win with customers by dedicating an employee to handle customer problems on micro-blogging network Twitter. Expect more brands to follow suit, not just on Twitter but throughout the social Web of blogs and other two-way media.

“The best way is to dig in and monitor what people are saying,” said Noah Brier, head of strategy at digital marketing firm Barbarian Group. “It can only help you.”

Not-So-Banner Year for Digital

As budgets tighten, media such as display ads will come under scrutiny.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to how digital advertising will fare in the grip of a recession. On the one hand, optimists see tight budgets accelerating the shift from less measurable traditional media into more targeted digital channels. The pessimists, however, point out that stagnant budgets affect all marketing, even if digital outlets fare better.

Against this backdrop, experts expect marketers will continue to push for new ways to reach audiences through digital channels. Tried-and-true methods like search marketing look to remain stable, while advertisers pay more attention to getting more solid metrics on how consumers were influenced before they type a query into a search box.

That means old school methods like display ads and microsites will come under pressure. Social media looks set to remain on the top of advertisers’ agendas, as they look to apply the lessons of their early missteps in the area while adding real measurement to what have been experimental forays to date. As the Internet becomes more social, there will likewise be an acceleration of a move from purely technical implementations to using the Web’s emerging social infrastructure to connect on a more human level.

According to researcher eMarketer, online ad spending will climb 8.9 percent next year, from $23.6 billion to $25.7 billion. Back in August, just prior to Wall Street’s meltdown, eMarketer predicted that spending would surge 14 percent in 2009. But the economy is now taking its toll on all segments of media. Here is a roundup of how that spending may pan out:

Display ad blues

The Web has moved well beyond its former role as a place where banner ads and microsites are used to support the real meat of the offline marketing. Nowadays, the most high-profile campaigns are centered on the Web. Take “Whopper Virgins,” the latest Burger King push from Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The centerpiece is a Web film, which is then spliced into components for traditional media. What’s more, the push has relied on the viral buzz of blogs and other digital outlets as much as big-money media buys.

Those type of efforts will put pressure on “traditional” digital efforts like run of the mill banner ads pumped out through ad networks and Flash microsites without any compelling reason for anyone to visit.

Forrester Research expects display ads to come under the scrutiny of tight-fisted marketers uncertain of their effectiveness.

Pricing is expected to rise just 8 percent after several years of uninterrupted, solid expansion. “The financial pressure will be severe,” said Dave Morgan, a former AOL executive. “When you take out big chunks of money, it’s not just the spend that disappears but also the competition.”