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Internet Business Strategies

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How Google Can Increase Chrome Market Share?

Wed, 28 Jan 2009 12:43:00 +0000

Not an easy task to increase Google Chrome's market share. But one thing that they sure should contemplate upon is making it mandatory for use inside Googleplex. Noticed a visitor from the Sitemeter readings today -

(image) (image)

Knol - It's NOT the end for Wikipedia

Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:50:00 +0000

Google recently announced that they shall be launching a new tool called Knol. Knol, which Google refers to as the 'unit for knowledge' shall let users write on topics they are authoritative on, and this will collectively be a whole new 'encyclopedia', much like Wikipedia.

Why's Google doing this?

That's not difficult to decipher, is it? According to a recent study, over 25 percent of the times, Wikipedia appears on the first search result page of Google. Google just loves Wikipedia. But then, all of this traffic is just wasted away by directing to a different website and hence is not monetizable. By redirecting all this traffic who are looking for information to one of Google's own websites, this whole chunk of users can be monetized.

Is it the end of Wikipedia?

Many websites have already announced the beginning of the end of Wikipedia. But, in my opinion, it is quite clearly unlikely. Why? Here's why:


Wikipedia was not built in a day. It has been here since 2001, and it will be a long while before Knol can prduce something similar


Wikipedia is the knowledge of the masses, Knol is of one particular authority. Authority pages are not something new. Even article submitter websites like rely on expert authors for content. While search engine ranking shall not be a problem for Knol, credibility will be. And this credibility will be one deciding factor in favour of Wikipedia any day.


Wikipedia was just for the content part. Till today, webmasters do not mind linking to Wikipedia simply because it is a Not-for-profit site, and people trust it, very much knowing that it is not always accurate. Knol is more like Ezinearticles. And like Ezinearticles, Knol too shall be a website traffic builder and possible money-maker and will only invite contributors of the same kind.

All said and done, by the time Knol starts to make an impression, Wikipedia will be close to a decade of operation, and it will be much more than what it is today.(image)

Three reasons why Yahoo should not partner with Google - An advertiser's perspective

Fri, 10 Aug 2007 20:05:00 +0000

If you cannot face an enemy, become his ally. That's exactly what Yahoo is trying to do. If the recent rumours are to be believed, Yahoo might give up its paid search advertising to partner with Google to do it for them. It is a deja vu of sorts for Yahoo who had snapped their partnership with Google years back to start their own search engine.

Why's Yahoo doing this?
In fact, this is one of the cleverer decisions from Yahoo's point of view. Adwords IS the most dominant of online advertising programs and YPN has always come way behind Adwords in competition. This step will help Yahoo boost up its numbers. Let me take hypothetical numbers to explain this: Suppose I need to advertise on both Adwords and YPN. Because Adwords is huge, and I also have more people bidding on my keyword here, I might be bidding at $10 for my keyword, while at YPN, due to lesser competition, I might only pay $5. So, simplifying the calculations, Yahoo might make only $5 at the max from this advertising.

Now, Yahoo is a huge site by itself. So, Google shall give Yahoo a much better deal than it would to any other Adsense partner. So, now with Google ads on Yahoo, Yahoo might just make $6 or $7 from the earlier $5. It is a better deal considering they are also not taking care of the ads inventory and the related cost now.

Why it's going to affect me?

1. Google Monopoly
Google is already a clear market leader in this segment. Now with Yahoo partnering Google, it shall move into a much higher reach. As an advertiser, I might just not find the right variety of options to choose. Google still has competition, but then this partership will always mean more dominance.

2. Possible Ad-Price increase
For a moment, let us assume the advertisers at YPN to be mutually exclusive to their Adwords counterparts. With this partnership in place, the YPN advertisers have to move to one of the other existing options. If not Google, they will be moving to others like Microsoft adCenter. Eitherways, peer-competitios is going to increase amongst advertisers on each of these ad networks. Since in all these networks, pricing is based on bids, increasing competition means more pressure towards a price increase. Definitely not something I would want.

3. Potential increase in partnerships for Google
Point 2 suggests that Google could actually be increasing its profit margin per click with this partnership in place. This also means as an Adsense publisher, I might stand to get more earnings per click. That stands not just for ordinary publishers, but to the other big websites too. Probably Digg might get back to Google now!. This shall give more dominance to Google, which might shoot the prices further.

As you see, it is clearly going to create many more partnerships in Google's favour. As I see now, it is going to be a nice thing to happen for an Adsense publisher. But if you want to advertise, it is going to be all the more harder!(image)

Google "Smartads" on Mobiles?

Thu, 02 Aug 2007 18:52:00 +0000

Last week, Nokia announced that they were acquiring the multimedia sharing website Twango. Twango is a website where you may share all the pictures, videos, audios from your cellphones or digital cameras with your family and friends through a blog, website or a discussion forum. This was probably for the first time that a Mobile handset maker had laid hands on a Web 2.0 company. In fact, Nokia had supposedly had a look at 70 probably candidates before rounding upon Twango. Well, this is just the flavor of the season as many big companies have started expanding their customer reach by taking to 3G for the next level of revenue growth.

Now, the news is just coming out from WSJ that Google is courting Mobile handset makers for a GPhone. This handset will help Google push mobile users to use Google apps on their phones and also set a platform for serving more and more ads to mobile users.

Smartads for Mobile phones?

Yahoo introduced the patent-pending Smartads as the way to provide the most personalized ads to a customer. This was based on his activities on the different microsites of Yahoo. Now, with GPhone, Google can really be taking the alternative route for personalization. This is because Google has already patented a technology that provides local search on mobile phones based on GPS-based technology.

With internet on mobile becoming more pervasive, Google's marketing strategy would revolve around pushing the customer to use mobile technology for localized searches (say the restaurants, beauty parlor, etc) and the web for more globalized searches. This would really give Google an upper hand against Yahoo and the other traditional rivals.

So, is Google moving out of web to counter Yahoo? No. Google is still the leader when it comes to search on the web. It might not be very long before Google introduces a technology to counter the Smartads. But, with mobile phones still being a largely untapped market, the future leadership might just be on the side of the company that makes early inroads here.(image)

Is Wikipedia a vulnerable tool for propoganda?

Sat, 28 Jul 2007 14:44:00 +0000

Wikipedia is the most celebrated example for success in Search Engine Optimization. There are hundreds of thousands of keywords that get a link to Wikipedia on the top 5 search results on Google. This being the case, Wikipedia holds tremendous clout on what internet users read and perceive.

Though it does not make financial nor commercial sense for companies to use Wikipedia for customer's perception about the company's and their competitor's products, Wikipedia still remains widely vulnerable to attack from the different intelligence agencies on political issues. Recently, Slashdot published an article on a Wikipedia admin who was found to be a former investigator of Britain's MI5. This raises questions on how much vulnerable Wikipedia is to propogate distorted information.

Where is the problem?

The problem lies in the very nature of the internet and in the way Wikipedia chooses its administrators. All one requires to become an admin on the Wikipedia network is a dedicated contribution is addition and edition of articles on Wikipedia. Such Wikipedians can then be chosen admins on request and approval. All along, the admin remains anonymous and there is no way out but to take the information that he provides at face value.

Can the problem be solved?

It is humanly impossible to manage the huge database that Wikipedia is. Hundreds of thousands of modifications happen everyday that Wikipedia cannot afford a centralized contol of information and has to rely on the admins and the approval of co-admins to the decisions taken by each of the admins.

However, a background of the admins, atleast for the policitally sensitive articles needs to be known. For this, Wikipedia needs to categorize the pages as politically sensitive or not. This can be quite easily achived by asking the very readers to rate it as sensitive or not. Such pages alone may be edited by only those admins who have provided their background and other information like the Social Security Number etc. This will help provide more unbiased editing of such articles.

Can companies use it for propoganda

Given the current scenario, can companies use it as a propoganda tool? Could Enron have used Wikipedia to tell people that nothing was their fault? Yes for reasons already said, but it is also commercially unviable. Firstly, an effective propoganda can be made only if there are quite a few admins from 'your side' who can approve of each others' actions. Repeated attempts by an admin to propogate false information can lead to his banning from other admins. Secondly, the exercise is not a one-time effort. Companies requires the admins to be dedicatedly work as long as the propaganda needs to stay. In case of companies that are looking to exist to the future, such a means is financially unviable and serves little purpose as the propaganda if exists can still be made news through other channels of communication.

On an ending note, here is an interview of Mathias Schindler, a Wikipedia admin that can give insights on the job of an admin.(image) - Is Yahoo getting anything out of this?

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 14:30:00 +0000

It is one and a half years since Yahoo acquired, the online bookmarking service. Any acquisition goes with a long term business strategy. At most times, one of the primary reason for the acquisition of a company is to integrate the users of both the services. Other times, it is to leverage the audience of the acquired company through ads on the site. Now that sufficient time has passed since the acquisition of one of internet's most loved websites, it makes sense to introspect into what benefits has Yahoo gained out of this acquisition.

Undeciphered Reasons
Frequent users of will vouch for the fact that one reason why is best is because they have absolutely no ads on their pages. This makes it a pure utility website. That also means Yahoo is not monetarily gaining too much out of this acquisition.

Yahoo is yet to integrate to Yahoo. Users of Yahoo and still have different usernames for the two websites. So, Yahoo is yet to decipher how many of the users of these two websites are common and how many new users they have added as a result of this acquisition.

Google's happy
Does this acquisition get Yahoo any closer to Google? No. In fact, ever since made it to the internet scene, Google has been able to get more relevant results thanks to the concept of tagging on Not that Google would have not got better results otherwise, but a huge directory of tagged links to numerous webpages does indeed help. Yahoo too has been able to use this to get search results closer, but nothing more than what Google probably has got. It is after all Yahoo's property.

What can be done?
This blog post comes close on the heels of the launch of SmartAds by Yahoo. SmartAds are aimed at providing more personalized ads to the Yahoo users. Traditionally, when a user searches for a keyword, "Apple" (say), the keyword is taken at face value while delivering the ads. So in this case, it could be a mixture of ads on Apple computers as well as the fruits.

SmartAds tends to infer more about the user through his activity on other Yahoo products, like Yahoo Finance, Sports, Music, etc. So,if Yahoo infers that you follow the stock of Apple computers at Yahoo Finance, the ads that relate to Apple Computer Stocks is displayed thus getting you the most relevant ads.

Yahoo can leverage for the first time with SmartAds. By learning what kind of webpages a user likes to bookmark, a great deal of information can be unearthed. Added to this, SmartAds will also enable Yahoo to infer why a person is bookmarking a particular page for. If a user is storing a webpage on 'Weather in Mumbai', it can either be because he is interested in Mumbai or the weather. Tags("Weather" or "Mumbai") can greatly help Yahoo interpret the same webpage in different aspects for different users. is a goldmine waiting to be tapped. Unlike Google, which wastes no time in integrating user-ids of its hot properties with its existing user base, Yahoo has so far not done it with respect to Allowing users to login to with their Yahoo ids is the primary step in this direction.(image)

Is it the end of the road for FeedReaders in India?

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 16:09:00 +0000

"If you are in India and can use internet, you have to have an orkut account" - this is an unwritten rule. Almost everyone in India (a lot many below 18 years of age as well, which is against the T&C) has an orkut account. That is why orkut is now the second most visited website in India after Yahoo.

Today, orkut launched a new feedreader feature in orkut. This allows you to add blog and website feeds you follow so that you may directly read these feeds from orkut.


Does this mean that with the launch of this feature, it is virtually the end of the road for the feedreaders in India?

RSS Awareness

One huge pro that I see with the introduction of this feature is the awareness about RSS to the common internet surfer. For all the hype around how simple internet has become after RSS, a majority of them do not know or use RSS. It is still the tech-savvy users who still use feed readers. Now that people will come to know that you can read blogs via orkut, the awareness about feed syndication is going to proliferate.

Are Feed Readers out?

As the existing bloggers promote their friends in orkut to follow their blog via the feedreader, I see the general readership increasing for blogs. But, we should remember that while people add feeds, they might not actually follow them. This could turn out to be another feature like the orkut communities where not everyone frequents though everyone on orkut has quite a list of communities subscribed to.

The bottom line however is that this feature WILL increase the awareness about RSS feeds. There are quite a good number of feedreaders on the web today that are way better than what orkut has to offer that the introduction of this feature shall only open up the gates for many more people to subscribe to the other popuar feedreaders.

This then boils down to the feedreaders which rank top on the Search Engines and on the word-of-mouth. Because these are the two avenues the new feed reader will use to find a feedreader which is better than what orkut has to offer.(image)

What if Google buys PayPerPost?

Thu, 24 May 2007 17:20:00 +0000

Google has been on a buying spree over the past few months. Just weeks after announcing the purchase of DoubleClick, the online advertising network, this week, Google announced the purchase of FeedBurner, the very popular RSS feeds website. With the kind of money that Google has been making, and also stands to gain through such acquisitions, it has become almost a regular 'Breaking News' from tech bloggers announcing yet another Google acquisition.This just got me to think what if Google decides to purchase PayPerPost. If Google has its way, such an acquisition will not be a great problem at all, considering that PayPerPost is such a small entity compared to the internet big shots that Google has acquired of late.Why then should such an acquisition be of interest then? It is primarily because Google and PayPerPost stand at opposite ends of what is regarded an unbiased Keyword search. While Google's search results are displayed with the presumption that a webpage is linked with a particular anchor text simply because that webpage was considered a reliable reference for that particular anchor text, PayPerPost strives to exploit this by offering cash to bloggers who do just this.For sure, Google shall not buy PPP simply to curb this search malaise. There are two primary reasons for this: One, simply because there are other 'blog for money' websites that shall continue with the legacy that PPP introduced, and two, there is simply no gain out of such an acquisition. If the user is going to get such flawless results simply through the organic search results, why is he even going to click on ads!?So, if ever this acquisition should happen, there should be other criteria that in a way can help Google make money. Here is one way by which Google can monetize through PayPerPost.Adsense 'Opportunities':PayPerPost sponsored blog posts are called 'opportunities'. Now every opportunity has one guy (the advertiser) who pays the money and one guy (blogger) who gets paid for making the blog post. This can be very well integrated with Adsense. For example, the Adwords advertiser can pay for a particular keyword, and an Adsense publisher (who owns an authenticated blog) can do the post and get paid.Do the Search results get tweakedLike the nofollow link, Google can require users to include a 'specific' attribute or comment inside the blogpost. Blogposts with this specific attribute shall not be considered for organic search results. Rather, they shall be displayed on the Ads side when a relevant search is made.How the payment is madeThe payment cannot be using the usual CPC format since the blogger needs to be paid for his work and $0.50 and $1.00 will not help. To achieve this, Google can introduce a new format of payment. Like the CPM and CPC, there can be something like CPP (Cost Per Period). That is, the Adwords advertiser may have to pay a specific amount for this blog post to appear on for relevant keyword searches for a particular period. This can be a one time payment without a concept of pay per click.Let me explain with an example. Suppose I am a travel agency looking to woo tourists for the upcoming holiday month. Then, I can get bloggers to make a blog post using all the possible keywords that my potential customers will be searching Google for. The blogger gets paid $20 for this, very well knowing that he is not gaining any PR weightage to his blog because of this. I pay Google $100 for a strategically chosen one week during this holiday period, when I know the maximum searches for travel packages are made. So, inspite of the number of visitors I get during this week through the ads, I have paid only $100. Also, bloggers can make money out of this,and hence everyone can expect to be in a win situation.DrawbacksThis was just a hypothetical thinking trying to highlight the extent to which Google has started dictating terms on the internet. T[...]

Ad Network consolidation

Tue, 01 May 2007 10:53:00 +0000

This April, Google announced their acquisition of Doubleclick. This was for a whopping $3.1 billion dollars. This has signalled the first step towards online Ad network consolidation. This is because, soon after, Yahoo too has announced their complete takeover of RightMedia. This was for $680 million (Yahoo already owned 20 percent of the company)

For Google, this acquisition widens the entire scope of their advertising operations in the internet. This is because Doubleclick has a portfolio of products which Google can leverage. The most important is the DoubleClick Ad Exchange program. This is an impression based advertising network which connects the advertisers with the publishers. Doubleclick already enjoys a huge publisher and advertiser base, and hence Ad Exchange is touted as the next big thing for Doubleclick. This apart, they also have other products like Performics, something quite similar to CommissionnJunction, a website for affiliate webmasters). The acquisition hence takes Google much much beyond where they are, in terms of Adwords and Adsense.

Yahoo's acquisition too, is right on track, and with the acquisition of RightMedia, have taken the company that directly challenges DoubleClick Ad Exchange. These websites also manage the ad inventories for many other popular websites. Yahoo could also possibly take over Microsoft's advertising operations, if not be acquired by MS; which is a huge ask.

What does all this mean to you, as a publisher or an advertiser? With increasing consolidation comes increasing bargaining power. Google already enjoys such a huge competitive advantage, that they exploit with not revealing the share of money that the publisher earns per ad click. This acquisition widens the area where they can flex their muscle.

The same, however cannot be said about Yahoo's acquisition. Yahoo has come to be the second best always, losing out to Google. However, Yahoo's acquisition of RightMedia is more of a reliever, since this puts DoubleClick's direct rival also in strong footing. This will ensure that DoubleClick does not end up wiping away competition. The balance thus continues to remain steady. However, it shall be interesting to revisit this story after a few months where things will be more clear on the implications of such an acquisition.(image)

Web History - the story inside out

Sat, 21 Apr 2007 19:31:00 +0000

Every business has a 'Statement of Purpose' from two points - the Marketing view point and the Operation view point. The Marketing purpose is to look out for value to the customer, while the operation objective is to look out for how you achieve that, and what you, as a business are going to achieve.

This whole concept is quite discernable through Google's latest Web History link that is available on their homepage.


I have tried to present what Google claims to offer you from a marketing view point, and what it plans to get back.

What You Get

By enabling web history, you get to search all previous searches you made. So, you can also track all the previous webpages that you previously had visited through Google. You can perform a search on only those pages that you had visited through Google. However the most important is the personalized search. Say, you are a software programmer and your brother is a tourist operator in Asia. So, you search more on programming syntaxes while your brother searches on tourist attractions and places. The personalization part suggests that while your search on a keyword 'Java' might result in more weightage provided to the programming language, the same search performed by your brother might results in links to the Indonesian island.

All the more reason why you should enable web search history on!

What Google will get

Computer Science students might have studied what is called data-mining. Enabling web search history might turn out to be Google's greatest attempt at gathering data about its users. Now, let us understand this with my own example.

I search on a wide variety of subjects. I search on technology, MBA stuff, India related, etc. Till now, all these are discrete pieces of search which is of no use to Google. Now, I have a gmail account. I use this id to log onto Gmail, orkut, blogger, and also search.

Using my information on orkut, Google knows I am a 23 year old student residing in India. Google also knows that I blog. Also, it now knows that I search for technology and MBA stuff. And well, it knows everything from my eye color to height to what kind of a person I am. So, Google knows almost everything about me that I possibly know about myself.

Not just that, Google also knows who my friends are, and in quite sometime, when YouTube login is integrated with Gmail id, will also start learning my video preferences. What more needs to be studied to offer you the best product available. In fact, with such extensive data mining, I see the future of Adwords not just relying on the keyword relevance. Rather it will be based on more extensive profile analysis. Like the Adwords might depend not just on the keyword, but also on the age, income level, ethnicity, past searches, friend influence, etc.

All this is simply a sign of exciting things to come!(image)

David Vs. Goliath - Does it hold true?

Fri, 06 Apr 2007 19:56:00 +0000

Google recently launched MyMaps, which allows you to create custom maps with your own placemarks. This has sort of made websites such as Wikimapia and other mashups redundant. There is one another site called Picli, which is regarded the Digg for pictures. But, it shall not be too late before Digg introduce a pictures section as well, looking at the demand for a picture section on the Digg website. Then, there is one site I had talked of which helps in downloading YouTube videos. What if YouTube provides that functionality on their website itself?

All these minnow websites have been treading on the thin line unattended by the major websites, and when one of these small sites start to get real numbers in traffic, these major websites crush the little threat that they hold by providing the very facility. It does look that the concept of David getting over Goliath is seemingly impossible in the case of internet.

What's the strategy then? If you look closely, you will find some sites that have taken better to the idea of complementing big sites, and successful at that.

What's the strategy here?

Simple. Go through the Terms and Conditions of the site, and you shall know what areas the website does not and will not venture into. For example, YouTube does not feature porn. So, PornoTube makes a successful strategy. Most networking websites require you to be 18 and above. Maybe, a networking site for children should be a nice idea, though regulations and moderatorship are a gray area here. But, the point is that if you would want to replicate the success of major websites, dont clone them on a niche where the very site can be a competitor. Choose where they would not venture into and there is a nice chance that you hit the right spot.(image)

Celebrity advertising - No, this is different!

Wed, 21 Mar 2007 22:02:00 +0000

We all know how brands are made or broken with celebrity advertising. But of late, Yahoo and Google have chosen the new way to use celebrities as a way to popularize their products.

Yahoo first came up with this idea for its Yahoo answers website. For this, they roped in the Indian President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, popular IPS officer Ms. Kiran Bedi and other celebrities like the tennis star Leander Paes. The idea was to make these popular celebrities use this medium to reach out to the people. It is a way to show that even celebrities as these have come to know the ability of Yahoo answers to reach out to the common man.

However, the logic behind the scenes are entirely different. This campaign was well supplemented by countrywide advertising along with 'cool gifts' to those participating in the discussion. The President may not have actually endorsed the product. But the purpose is served. Yahoo Answers is now a huge Yahoo product in India.

Taking cues from this, Yahoo's rival Google has tried to exploit the Cricket World Cup season to strengthen its social networking site, Orkut. Orkut has invited Kris Srikanth, former captain of the Indian cricket team as a guest contributor to one of the newly formed communities. The advertising intentions are indeed clear. This community with only around 1000 members is the first such community or Orkut with a personalized link:

The success of this community will no matter depend on the success of the Indian team in this world cup, but nevertheless Google too has announced its intentions to go the celebrity way to popularize its products.

Will this pay?

This question has to be answered assuming that each of these celebrities were indeed paid to participate. I believe the Yahoo campaign has been successful since it was well backed up by mainstream ads and also it is a sustaining model of advertising as we see in the way new social celebrities like Shashi Tharoor being roped in to ask questions.

Google might not have started off too well since there are still hardly 1000 members on the community. Also, unlike in Yahoo answers, orkut requires repetitive participation which might not be okayed by all celebrities. However for events as the world cup which last for one or two months, celebrities may be roped in for that specific period.(image)

Widget Networking - the next in-thing?

Thu, 15 Mar 2007 16:47:00 +0000

MyBlogLog has had a fair share of criticism in recent times. It was accused of revealing Google Adsense information that was hereto confidential under the Terms of Service. However, MyBlogLog continues to be popular and rightly so.

MyBlogLog has probably been the first service that has rejuvenated bloggers' interest in other blogs. Till then, communication between bloggers tended to be restricted to commenting on blog posts. But, ever since MBL got popular, bloggers tend to have struck a chord with their readers. For example, I now know many of my blog's readers by face. Thanks to the MBL widget.

Widget networking seems to be the next in-thing on the net after social networking. Widgets are small pieces of code, predominantly javascript that can be inserted anywhere in your code. MBL in particular lets you know your recent visitors.

Recently I was approached by another website who introduced to me their new widget called AutoRoll. Their product fit well into this topic, so I decided to introduce the widget on my blog. AutoRoll is a network of blogs like MBL, except that the widget for AR displays links that my site visitors would most likely want to visit. In effect, it is a self-learning widget that tracks the link which my visitors click on the widget and learns to display the most clicked ones on my blog. Similarly with my blog on other AR user blogs.

Widgets as these are getting common. Every blog has quite a few widgets running on them, which do much more than simply increase the page-loading time. For example, both the widgets that I have discussed here help the blogger get closer to his readers by knowing their preferences and tastes.

However the question remains if this widget networking phenomena shall last. There cannot be just too many widgets on a blog. The page would simply stop loading then. In my opinion, given this constraint of only a few widgets that can be put on a blog, there is going to be a fight for this blog space. And in this, only the widget that fulfils the needs of the blogger shall last.

MBL has indeed taken a leap ahead. Not only has it established a social networking between the blogger and the reader, it has also become property of one of the Internet giants, Yahoo. However the other widgets like AR need to keep innovating to make sure that they don't die a natural death. For example, while reviewing the AR widget, I felt that the 'site statistics' link not being optional can be a great negative aspect. Not all bloggers might want to reveal statistic. Another point is that over a period of time, some blogs become popular and others might not. That would mean that these less-popular ones pull out the widget because their statistics are bad compared to the links that are shown on the widget. In the course of time, the widget might come to a stage where it cannot grow further.

AR is no doubt in beta, and hopefully the product can only improve much more from here, but I am only trying to highlight the constant-competitiveness that these widgets must ensure in order to remain popular amongst users.(image)

'Google Bombing' for the right reasons

Sat, 10 Mar 2007 18:56:00 +0000

Google Bombs are always thought of as part of technology humor; something to simply show why George Bush is a 'Miserable Failure' or to do other similar pranks. But it is also one of a very vital part of the SEO strategies for companies.

Recently I was searching for a different issue while I got across this particular search result.


A search all related to Gmail gives Yahoo as the first result. A little knowledge in Search Engine Optimization will show that Google gives high priority to the following aspects of inbound links when ranking pages:
* Number of Inbound links
* Inbound Anchor text
* Inbound page Quality
* Inbound page relevance
This is not some sort of a clinching evidence to prove that Yahoo played a dirty game here. It is always probable that there exist so many Yahoo Vs. Gmail id comparisons linking to Yahoo Mail which has caused this 'fudging' in search results. The point of this blog is not that. The point is if this can be a strategy to capture rival userbases.

Now, consider this: You are company ABC making widgets. You have a competitor XYZ. People searching for ABC naturally may end up on your website since they already know you and hence searched for you on the web. You can also optimize your webpages for the relevant keywords so that you capture people looking for widgets. But how do you capture the attention of people looking for your competitor XYZ in the search engine. What if this customer did not even know you existed for the same product/service.

Google Bombing is a nice way to advertise your product to this group of customers. It is similar to standing outside your competitor's store and handing over leaflets for your own company. The customer may end up in your rival's store eventually, but now he knows you exist and could satisfy his requirement too. It is a nice way to build a potential user base.(image)

IM through Ads

Tue, 06 Mar 2007 15:01:00 +0000

I recently came across an Adsense ad on John Tp's blog. Here is a screenshot of the same. The advertiser in this case was John Chow, a technology blogger.


It is a new concept floating around called 'IM through Ads'. Why this is interesting is because of the unconventional way to target the audience. Instead of the usual universal way to target audience from all blogs alike, this is a new way to focus audience site by site.

Why should this be effective?

I consider an effective strategy on two main counts.

(1) Though ads on most counts are not effective owing to the 'banner blindness' factor, it isn't
that the audience does not even pass a cursory glance at the ad. An ad titled, 'I Love' is given a second glance simply because the audience does not expect any website to advertise on its own webpage.

(2) There is a more critical aspect to it. JohnTP, in this case is a popular blog in itself with over 800 subscribed readers and many more loyal audience. This means that this audience knows that ' rocks!' - as is mentioned in the ad. So, this is a humble way to reach the audience. The ad is akin to saying, 'Your favorite blog is awesome, no doubt! By the way, take a look at my blog. You might find it good too...'

The ad hence does prove effective in capturing new audiences.

Is it Legal?

The next question that follows naturally is if this method is legal. At first thought, it does seem illegal for me to use a trademarked logo of another company in my ads. Isn't that infringement of copyright rules? Apparently, the law is with JohnChow in this particular case. This follows from a case Google won over Geico over a similar suit that the latter had filed against the former. So, rest assured, you shall not be penalized for using the above strategy. In my opinion, if you are going to use the above strategy for popular websites, it shall and will pay.(image)

Marketing Internet companies in different geographies

Wed, 21 Feb 2007 19:54:00 +0000

Companies which establish a global presence usually take marketing locally; the very reason why Pepsi makes such a cry about 'blue' in India (where the local Cricket team wears blue uniform), but not in say the neighbouring country, Pakistan. But it is normally perceived that such localization is not actually necessary in the Internet industry, except for those countries cut off from the others due to liguistic differences such as China. Apart from the big players like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google, other companies do not take real effort to create custom marketing for different parts of the world. This is because Internet is supposed to be a melting pot of all cultures and localization does not matter to a great extent; provided content is presented in the appropriate language.

Quite a few may disagree to the point I made here, but there is a bit of truth when I say that internet companies do not take efforts in marketing locally. There is one predominant reason which is that in most of these countries including India, the population that has taken to Internet is quite skewed towards the "educated, English speaking,young-Gen" kinds. This population is quite exposed to the American culture and so does not require a personalized touch to the marketing efforts. Though this is one predominant reason, a simple truth is that companies don't go for such a comprehensive advertising that encompasses all cultures simply for the reason of economics of doing so.

Why this shall not sustain

But, internet companies will have to give in at some point to increasing their customization of the websites to different countries soon. This is because, with newer technologies the internet population is getting more diverse. For example, take CrossLoop. This is a simple, secure screen sharing software which is likely to help us in achieving that diversity. This helps young people (say those working in the US) teach their parents(in India) who are not used to working on a computer how to work on them, remotely. So, with increasing exposure of internet in the mainstream media, more and more older people are likely to take to working on the internet.

CrossLoop in itself is a new company which has been growing and developing the product that shall be helpful and easier to use and learn and colloborate online. But it is to an extent helping in achieving the diversity. So, when this happens, more customization requires to happen to cater to this population of people. This has already been happening for internet populations in countries such as China, but with diversity happening in other English-speaking countries, companies have to employ marketing people who cater to this various geographies.(image)

Next: Google Ads for your Video Games!

Fri, 16 Feb 2007 18:48:00 +0000

TechCrunch recently announced that Google has made a $23 million acquisition of AdScape Media. Adscape is a San Francisco based company that is credited with developing the Real World/Virtual Word Gateway (shortly known as RVG). This acquisition means something significant to Google since RVG helps in taking dynamic ads to a new platform so far not ventured into by Google; Video Games!

In fact, this is not innovative thinking from Google anyway. Microsoft, in May last year, had announced acquisition of Massive, a well established company whose technology has already been taken up by popular gaming sites like Miniclip and SOE. Google had however hinted at such an acquisition a long time back.

Now that the two rivals have taken on the video gaming platform, it is interesting to see the advantages and disadvantages that the two companies shall hold in having made such an acquisition.

Microsoft and Massive

Microsoft's acquisition was very much a necessity owing to XBox Live and the MSN games. This is in the sense that Microsoft already had the necessary infrastructure in place for them to start reaping the harvests of the acquisition rightaway. This apart, Massive already has a huge list of partners of their
own. This has helped in proliferation of their advertising network straightaway.

That being said, the advertising model used on Massive is different from the Contextual advertising model used on MSN. The current advertising model on Xbox is quite the stereotypical ads that are served on the virtual real estates elsewhere, for example, on Billboards on the roads(inside the games, that is..),etc. that is accepted to taking the games close to real.

Google and Adscape

Adscape is intended to help developers of even freely downloadable games make money by serving ads. This also includes dynamic placement and control of the ads that appear in the games. However, I feel Google has much deeper intentions in having acquired Adscape. As put on TechCrunch, Google might take forward the Adscape technology for its SketchUp software.

SketchUp is a layman's tool to develop your own 3D design of homes and your neighborhood. This can be used in the virtual world developed on Google WareHouse. Simply put, WareHouse is a user-made world that can be otherwise be seen on Google Earth. With this acquisition Google has got hold of a technology which can be used to make even SketchUp a money making venture. But what is interesting to note is that for the first time, Google shall be venturing into advertising technology that is outside the conventional contextual-targetting. This is even more significant since unlike Massive, Adscape does not currently hold a client-base. This means that Google will have to take its advertisers' network to the new medium. The problem however is that the new form of advertising on video games, which, most probably might not be contextual-targetting, might not find favor with the majority of its existing

Only a statement from Google explaining how it plans to proceed further in this particular segment shall clear doubts in minds of advertisers as well as speculators like me alike.(image)

'Most Valuable Sites' for the Web 2.0 era

Tue, 13 Feb 2007 20:36:00 +0000

Web 2.0 has been around for more than two years now. Around June of 2006, two Israeli programmers got together to create a website in their sparetime that will carry the logos of all the new and upcoming web 2.0 sites. It has hardly been half a year since, yet the website now carries more than 833 logos. That in itself explains the proliferation in the number of websites that have been propping up in the post-dotcom bust period. Google has emerged as one of the, if not the most coveted website from the previous century. Now, with such a huge number of websites that have come up in the short time that web 2.0 has come to be, it makes sense to read these new websites that have come up and guesstimate which among these will be the 'newsmakers' amongst this new bunch.Looking from another perspective, we need to see why only one or two of these websites should actually become a 'newsmaker'. It does not take much time to reason out that sites that can actually find a solution to the existing chaos will emerge the winner eventually. That was the very same reason why Google became hot property at the turn of the century.The new medium of web was churning out so many websites that it became virtually impossible to look for one particular data from the millions of pages. Google solved that very problem.Problem of web 2.0Similar to what we saw for Google, if only we can find the problem that we might face with this huge onslaught of websites, picking the most valuable website among the new lot should not be a difficult task. Now, here is the situation: 833 websites that's been on Go2Web20 alone. That makes the actual number of websites much higher than this. Now, zeroing on the website shall not be a difficult task, thanks to Google. But managing them can be. Imagine this: I love reading, making friends, surfing news, watching TV, etc. Now, there is a website for me to do each of this. For instance, there is Shelfari for the avid reader, Digg for the news buff, MySpace for networking, and YouTube for videos. Now, the more the number of sites, the number of places I frequent increase too. Here comes the problem: I not only have to remember all these numerous sites, but also have to remember my login information for all these websites.Having one login for all the website might not be sensible for some, and might in itself get cluttered when you try to bookmark websites and individual pages alike. For that very reason, I thought it would be really important for us to know why the following two websites shall be considered the most valuable ones in the long term.NetVibesNetVibes is a website that lets you add all your bookmarked websites on one platform. So, in other words, if you visit Digg, orkut, youtube, flickr and a dozen other sites, you can add link to all of them here. This apart, you may also add RSS feeds, perform image, and blog searches, check mail; basically do everything that you visit the internet for. This is not the only place you may do this. Even Google offers its own personalized home page feature, but as with any website, NetVibes has this function as its USP and that should help it in the long run in branding. There is one very critical aspect that could be to NetVibes financial favors. Since the very purpose of NetVibes is to serve as a platform for you to jump to another website, it naturally serves to be the default webpage for most users on their browsers. The enormous number of visits that this shall generate makes it one of the most prolific earners on the internet. OpenIDThis is a not-for-profit website that is aimed at achieving a mission[...]

Yahoo makes a BrickHouse opposite Google's Labs!

Sat, 10 Feb 2007 13:45:00 +0000

This week, Yahoo announced the launch of its new super-product called Pipes. Pipes is not just a great product in terms of innovation, but it is also that after a long time, it is actually one hyped product from Yahoo which has been built in-house. Most of the other Yahoo products, including Flickr, MyBlogLog, etc were acquired from startups.Before, I move further, I will take a few lines to explain what Pipes does. Yahoo Pipes basically lets you, a user, create a mash-up of your own. Taking one example from the site itself, you can create a mash-up that lets the user know the latest products in a certain price range, that is out on eBay. This is created using the appropriate APIs available from the eBay website. Other easier examples will be to make a webpage that contains the latest articles on say, "Internet Business Strategies" from various sources of the internet. You basically use the feeds available from the different news sources and simply enter them on the Pipes creation page to get this done. You may go through the nice tutorial available on the Yahoo Pipes page.Pipes is not the first time somebody has created such a product. There is already atleast one another product that serves a similar purpose. The website, called Ning is already a huge hit among web users. So, the question we need to ask is why did Yahoo choose to create Pipes when it could have acquired Ning, as it did with Flickr or MyBlogLog. The answer to this lies much more deep inside the company's strategies.It might not to be wrong to link the in-house development of Pipes with Yahoo's competition with Google. Google, right from its inception days has been quite an attractive destination for innovators. As a result of their 20 percent rule; which allows the in-house programmers let one day of their work for their own personal projects, they have fostered an environment of innovation. Not only that, this has also helped Google Labs come up with innovative products every now and then, including products like Google News, Orkut, etc.But the question still remains if the question of paying more to buy a product than developing it inhouse is the only reason for Yahoo to launch Pipes. Interestingly, it is not the only reason. A much bigger stake exists in the form of employee retention which has kept Yahoo more worried than Google, since Google has earned the reputation of being a great place to work in for innovators. This(focus on innovation) is one step which will not only help retain employees, but also serve Yahoo to project as a destination for innovation.Incidentally, Pipes is just the first in the series of many more innovations to come. Yahoo is yet to formally launch BrickHouse, which is going to be the innovation center, and is quite similar to what Google Labs is for Google. The focus of BrickHouse is going to be on innovation and new creative products to the user.Though it is only going to launch in March, Yahoo BrickHouse is already working on several employee product initiatives. For example, one Yahoo employee's ground work on a project that will help gather a web visitor's 'fingerprint' in the form of his image or profile when he visited a web page is already underway. This is a great tool for publishers since they can now develop websites that can be closely customized to the visitor profile. It already looks to be one of the in-things in the months to come.[...]

Yahoo's Panama model - For good or bad?

Tue, 06 Feb 2007 17:46:00 +0000

In a significant move in the advertising segment of the Search Engine industry, Yahoo has announced that it is now completely doing away with the bid-to-position model of ads to give way for a more democratic "Marketplace Design" model, more similar to Google Adwords. It is a mixed signal of things to come, and as I shall opine here might require that Yahoo now starts marketing its Search Engine better if they should continue to sustain their model.What's the difference:In the bid-to-position model, the ads alongside search results are based on an auction system where the advertiser who bids more for the spot gets to bag the spot. In effect, it did not consider the relevance of the search keyword to the ads too much. This model was based on the presumption that though this system shall fetch lesser clicks on ads than the Google Adwords model, the revenue generated shall be higher considering that Yahoo generates more money per click.Where's Yahoo missing out:There are a couple of things that I feel Yahoo is missing out. First is the advertiser competitiveness. If you look at the Search Engine market share, Google has a huge market share compared to any of the other search engines. For Yahoo, their business model made sense because they focussed more on the bid amount (and not on the keyword relevance which is important for hige click-through-rates), so that they could discount the fact thatGoogle has a higher market share.Now with the Panama model, things shall not remain as it is now. The model being closer to Google Adwords, we can safely assume that the ad Click-thru-rates are similar to what exists for Google (that's roughly 1-2%). Now, that being the same, Yahoo lags behind Google on two fronts: (1)The number of searches made, and (2) The amount bid for a click. Owing to the fact that Yahoo advertisers are catering to a smaller audience than those for Google, this would mean that the newer model has pretty much sealed the leader between Google and Yahoo with respect to the revenue garnered from the search engine segment.There is one more aspect to it. Yahoo's Panama model, in my opinion has one basic flaw. I could explain it better with the following quote taken from the source.Historical clickthrough rates (CTRs) are one part of how ad quality scores are determined. To get this information, Yahoo will pull data (relative to other ads displayed at the same time) from both the old system and the new Panama system. The new ranking algorithm emphasizes data "freshness" and will use the most current information available.One parameter of the Panama model is the historical clickthrough rate. What is surprising is that Yahoo shall weigh the ad quality based on the CTRs that the particular ad had garnered through a combination of both the old and new system. The question is why should it take into account the old system? As we know, the old system had one ad unfairly placed over the other owing to the bid amount. This meant that those ads at the top of the table in the old system would have had an unfair advantage of being clicked more than the ones at the bottom. That means their CTRs were higher. If you take this CTR as one of the parameter in the new system, then it would mean that those advertisers who had bid more in the old system will still gain an advantage in the new system. This, in effect would cause their CTR in the new model also to behigher, thus biasing the whole model. It is simply a cascading effect in place.What it means for the advertisers:Advertisers should in general be happy about the change[...]

YouTube Monetization plan - Loopholes and Ways to combat

Fri, 02 Feb 2007 15:01:00 +0000

This week, YouTube founder Chad Hurley had set up a storm by announcing that YouTube is planning to share its revenue with its users. This has, over the week, generated so much of a heated discussion about how YouTube is now turning to become the undisputable leader, which it already is, and how this is going to stop users from using any other video sharing services.The plan, so far, seems to be this. YouTube is monetized by the Google ads that appear alongside the videos. These videos are both, uploaded and viewed by the users, and YouTube plainly serves as the platform for all this action. So, it does not make sense if YouTube, or rather Google have all the money to themselves. Also, competitors like MetaCafe were trying to breathe down the neck by paying users for their content. So, it naturally necessitates YouTube to also help its users make money.There have been quite a few 'theories' doing the rounds on how YouTube plans to monetize in the first place. Adsense ads alone might not help, since a video sharing site can generally only expect lesser clicks on ads than a text based content site. It is speculated that YouTube might have small ads preceding actual videos.That being said, it becomes important to see the roadblocks ahead for YouTube in its current proposal. Firstly, you should look at the demographics of usage of YouTube. Visitors between 12-17 years are more than 1.5 times to visit YouTube than the average web user. And this young user base means that the chances of these youngsters clicking on ads, simply to expect a larger sum to pocket becomes much higher. It is time for Google to decide if they are going to generate revenue for users from the text ads or not. If they indeed intend to do so, then it shall not be long before their Adwords clients start to cry foul.Another important aspect is the sheer number of uploaded videos. At present, any important video, be that of Saddam Hussain's hanging or a sporting action clip are duplicated widely across YouTube. It would not be very wrong to say then that of the 65000 videos that YouTube claims, are being uploaded everyday, a majority of them are duplicates. And all this is at a time when those users who upload the content gain nothing but user comments.One 'theory' regarding monetization suggests that video uploaders could be monetized based on their popularity. That would mean more duplication of content by users expecting a high popularity and hence a good revenue from Google. So, while this may dramatically increase the number of videos uploaded everyday on YouTube, it shall also correspondingly reduce the quality of videos.The third aspect is that of copyrights. YouTube is primarily automated with only little intervention by humans (in case of spams, etc). Now, Google cannot monetize with copyrighted stuff, which means that now there should be a human check each time a video is uploaded to see if it is a copyrighted material. If yes, either delete it, or atleast do not put ads on them, lest they be sued.Now, these aspects make revenue sharing seem to be a costlier proposition than it looks from the outset.Means to Monetize:It is costlier if Google backs off from monetization now. Monetization from videos is here to exist. But it is the methodology of ads that is to be discussed. One thing that holds loyal YouTube users apprehensive is about the quality of the website degrading due to more and more vents for ads on the website. Adbrite currently offers unintrusive ads on videos. The user gets to see the ad only when h[...]

NOFOLLOW: Business sense of manipulation

Tue, 30 Jan 2007 17:48:00 +0000

Earlier during January, Wikipedia announced that all external links on its websites shall be hyperlinked with a NOFOLLOW tag in order to put a curb on spamming. This means that getting referenced on Wikipedia will not add any 'Google juice' to your website, and hence shall not in any way, help in increasing your PageRank. This seems to have started a trend of sorts. Google Videos was accused of manipulation because they provided NOFOLLOW tags to some of the videos on their homepage, while their partner AOL's videos were linked directly.

Now, since spamming is a global issue, all websites are likely to take some sort of an action sooner or later. And most of them are likely to go the NOFOLLOW mode. It makes better business sense. Here are some of my observations...

Let us take the example of Wikipedia. Personally, I do not grudge their actions, and concur with Christer Edwards on this issue. However, their first-moving decision for a NOFOLLOW tag can be adopted as a strategic business decision for many other websites with huge volumes of data simply because of its ability to manipulate results. Let us take Wikipedia itself as an example. Wikipedia links every external link with NOFOLLOW, while directly linking its internal pages. There are a lot of wiki pages that hold a high PR of more than 6. So, while these pages link to other wiki pages, their PR too gets a huge boost. But the external links are left 'juiceless'. So, ultimately, with such a decision, under the veil of challenging spammers, websites can actually help themselves get listed many more times in the top results pages of search engines.

Less-voluminous websites however cannot take this route simply because they do not have enough internal linking to maintain the high PR. So, if other websites too make it a point to add NOFOLLOW to the links to these websites, it is these small websites that end up as losers.

Please note that even Wikipedia has been criticized. So, other for-profit websites, taking such a route may cause a huge Public Relations failure. This is because, it is not just the PageRank that is the problem here. It is much more. It is that of proper and just attribution of references. An attribution with a NOFOLLOW ultimately ends up with the web page that sourced the info appearing before the original page. This is a matter of ethics, which most websites can manage to 'forget' at this stage, but could result in a lot potential law suits over a period of time.

The voting on Wikipedia over remove/keep of the new NOFOLLOW rule in Wikipedia suggests a 61 percent favor for reverting the situation as it is now. But the issue now is no longer with Wikipedia. It is about what big websites will now strategize towards their position on NOFOLLOW.(image)

Offline Businesses Online: Comparison of different Business models

Sun, 28 Jan 2007 07:17:00 +0000

It makes a lot of sense for small businesses to enter online. The extremely cheap setup cost, coupled with a wordwide audience and a 24X7 open shop makes it an attractive proposition. There has hence been a spurt in the number of online stores ever since the WordWideWeb started. But the business model in which such websites operate makes a great deal of difference. I shall take up three examples to show how effective or not effective these different models can be. FridgeDoor:This is a model that most businesses follow. Fridgedoor is basically an online shop for fridge magnets. The model is quite simple. Display the catalog online with the price, allow a secure transaction gateway (like Paypal) and sell. You may as well use affiliates to sell the product for you, whereby you pay commissions to those who sell them for you. You may use CommissionJunction for such purposes. Though the model looks quite robust, it can go wrong in its implementation. It pushes you from your core competency into territories that you don't know. For instance, though FridgeDoor's core competency is meeting the supply-demand gap of FridgeDoor magnets, this model requires a host of other things, like increasing the page popularity using SEO techniques, working out a proper affiliate commission model so that the commission paid is neither too less nor too high. It is not that the other business models I shall discuss, do not require them. They require them too. But, the return on investment is higher there. Also, FridgeDoor is a hit because it was one of the firsts in its niche, so that it has been able to retain its leadership ever since. However, a company starting now may find it difficult simply because there are too many existing players in every possible niche that gaining customers through this model may be a tough ask. CafePress:CafePress is a unique example which operates outside the conventional model. "If you have to get over the existing big players, get new players in the fray". CafePress is a website where you can shop for tshirts, caps, mugs, and other gift items. You choose the item, and they make them and ship it to you for a fee. This is very similar to FridgeDoor. But their way to increase business is through getting people with good design but lack of resources (read tshirt printing expertise) to get into the business by simply making the design for the tshirt or cap and promoting them on their website. This way, both cafepress and the designer make money for what they have done. So, where does the company benefit? Here, CafePress has not spent on areas outside their expertise like SEO. They have not spent on new design research, which the seller base has taken care of. They only fufil the orders, and money spent is on promotional activities, which is an inevitable need for any firm. This besides, CafePress has also taken to the affiliate mode of business (which has the roadblocks that I mentioned earlier). But the fact that the website has already garnered a user base that is ready to design the products makes the publicity effort much more easier. Moo:This is the most exciting business model that is exploiting the environment of web 2.0. Moo is again in the printing business, and they print cards. Their business model is to use the current online social networking scene to gain a customer base that would have never used their products otherwise. Moo calls for users to take their online relationship offline, and to do that prints 'minicard[...]

Implications of changes in the Adsense ToS

Wed, 24 Jan 2007 20:50:00 +0000

This week, Jennifer Slegg, author of the blog on Contextual advertising, JenSense announced after her conversation with Brian Axe, the Senior Product Manager of Google Adsense that here on, Google Adsense can be used along with other contextual ads, though under certain specific restrictions. This is indeed a very interesting development since Google had been adamant for long to accomodate other contextual advertisements on the same page as the one where Adsense ads are being served. This news could sound sweet for two categories of people. First are the web publishers, who have long been demanding the removal of this section of the Adsense ToS. Now web publishers definitely have the freedom to choose the kind of ads that they would like to serve on their web page. The other section has to be the lesser known contextual ad providers, including those of the kind of Kontera, intelliTXT, and Kanoodle. This slackening of the rule on part of Google means that more and more publishers are likely to try their ads out, which in effect would lead to increasing competition among the advertising network, which shall eventually result in higher CPCs and earnings. Why Change:It shall be appropriate to discuss why this change was made in the first place. One prime reason are the legal law suits looming large on the company. In the US, there exists a "restraint of trade provisions" law that prohibits any service from that hinders businesses from making money. Effectively, if you are a web publisher, by prohibiting you from displaying other contextual ads and making money, Google could be booked for action. However, this law is weak in Google's case. Simply because the web publisher was never forced to publish Adsense ads in the first place. So, he can always choose to display other ads over Adsense. However, this is not all. Like it happened to Microsoft in 1999, Google could have been fined upto $10,000,000 for monopolizing the market of contextual advertising. Since these are law suits that were only waiting to happen, it was upon Google to change the Terms of Service sooner or later. What Next:From Jennifer's article, even Yahoo seems to be giving indications that they could be slackening the rules a bit. Though at the outset, it could mean an ushering of the open era, there are certain questions remaining to be answered. For one, how are those who have been banned in the past for violating this specific clause of ToS be reinstated? Shall they remain to be banned for having vioated a ToS while it existed or be reinstated simply because the rule that got them banned no longer exists? All this is going to take some time to be settled, unless Google straighaway chooses to keep banned publishers still out from the game. The other ad-serving networks should be expecting a surge in their user base as well as on their revenues. However still, it is going to be a race for the second place, and so, anytime Google chooses to revert the rule back, they are going to lose again, though it is very unlikely to happen. The publishers, no doubt are going to have a field day. But, it remains to be seen how the 'visitors' world is going to take the news. They can now expect more prime estate of the web page going to ads, more cluttering of ad blocks, and lesser content space. This is definitely not an encouraging news to those advocating for high-content websites.[...]

Age of Google: Branding an alternative Search Engine

Tue, 23 Jan 2007 19:38:00 +0000

In a book titled '101 Best Dotcoms' published in 2000, I found an interesting line from the author which went like this: 'Amongst your favorite search engines like Yahoo, MSN, Askjeeves...'.Google was simply missing, although it was launched more than two years prior to this. This line, in no way decreases the credibility of the author. Rather, it simply glorifies the path that Google has taken to success. At that time, the very reason Google emerged numero uno in web search technology was because most of its competitors had search alongside their other offerings. Google had only one text box on its homepage. So, while Yahoo was remembered for so many things, Google was remembered for only one thing:Search. Now, they have been trying to grow much beyond that; as proved by the numerous products Google labs has been rolling out, as well as, the suit Google filed to prevent their company name to be used as a synonym for web search. So, if Google was this primary source for extracting information from the web, why are the other newer search engines even emerging? Yesterday, I had blogged about one niche of Search: searching Images. There are in fact, several other niches that search engines can operate. In this article, I am merely trying to suggest ways in which these newer search engines can also gain popularity. For the cause, I shall take up the example of Guruji.Com . This is a website dedicated to searches on Indian websites alone. Websites like Technorati operate on a niche that is not addressed by Google or Yahoo. So, they manage a dedicated user base of their own. But, for a search engine like Guruji, whose needs are already taken care by Google to a great extent, the task become much more difficult. So, here are a few points to address this situation. Purpose of use:The question we should first ask is why use Guruji? Google and Yahoo are much more convenient. At present, you do not even have to visit their website for a search since a search can be performed right on the toolbars in the browser window. This is regarded the 'comfort zone', and if for any reason the user must move out of this 'comfort zone' and use Guruji, there has to be a reason,and that reason must be unique. And the reply to this question is the niche; 'Indian websites', in this specific example. But the question still remains. Any Indian search can be performed on Google itself by suffixing a '+ India' to the search query. From a user point of view, any search result pertaining to India will do. The user, at most instances is not looking for a website maintained by an Indian for an answer to his reply.This brings us then to the question of how to leverage the value of Guruji to expand the user-base. There are no specific answers and every brand manager will have his own route to achieving this task. Brand Value - Not Search Engine Value:One primary mistake that could possibly happen is make a search engine just another website and market it like other websites. This was a mistake made by Sproose, an interactive search engine, which ranks web pages based on what ranking users give to the search results. The concept is good, but the advertising format was bad. Sproose took services from PayPerPost to put a word about their search engine on the pages of their blogger network. The mistake here can be discussed in two ways. 1) Numerous bloggers being paid to 'write' about their search engine will help sprea[...]