Last Monday I received an Email from the Wall St. Journal. Since this is something that doesn’t happen every day, and, since the WSJ has already run the article with a quote from our correspondence, I thought it would be nice to share the email exchange with the world. :)

Read more…

Gravatar
Wednesday, September 24th, 2003

IBM Enters the Fray

There was just too much news for our little ol’ newsletter this week. We really wanted to include this item but space was limited and the story is still in development. Here’s a hint for next week though:

IBM announced last week that its enterprise search engine, WEBFOUNTAIN is almost ready. Webfountain will be used by by businesses to find and contextualize information from anywhere within a corporate or business intranet. The most advanced feature is the contextualization of information, (not to be confused with contextual advertising), that will provide a user with definitions of industry specific terms and phrases as well as finding documents on similar topics for extra research. For more information on Webfountain, please visit the IBM Almaden Research Center at www.almaden.ibm.com/WebFountain (link no longer active)

Gravatar
Monday, September 8th, 2003

Google Is Five Years Old Today!

Happy Birthday to Google… Happy Birthday to Google… Happy Birthday Dear SearchEngineWePlacedOurTrustandFaithinandNowRulestheWorrrrrlllld….

Happy Birthday to Google. Read more…

Gravatar
Thursday, September 4th, 2003

Counter Googling Your Customers

Two years ago Google became an essential tool for singles looking to check into the background of people they were potentially interested in. A quick Google-check of a new date could help differentiate between princes and psychopaths. Googling friends, co-workers and other acquaintances became a guilty pastime for several Internet users, just as Googling oneself can be an enormous ego boost. It simply stands to reason that savvy business people and salesfolk have taken the tool to another level and are using Google to check out the interests and needs of clients and customers. A hotel in Los Angeles runs every reservation through Google to try to anticipate their guest’s needs before they arrive, placing early risers in east-facing rooms and vacationers in west-facing rooms. Read more…

The gloves have come off between Overture and Google, (allowing their respective lawyers enough agility to hold on to their pens). Three issues ago we wrote about Google’s great fortune in gaining the search account for Europe’s largest ISP, T-Online from Overture. It seems that T-Online’s multi-year deal with Overture had a back out clause allowing them to dump Overture if Overture was ever bought by a competitor. T-Online considers Yahoo, (soon to be Overture’s new owner) a competitor, and cancelled the deal. In reaction, Overture applied for and was granted an injunction against T-Online, preventing them from replacing Overture results with results from Google. Problem is, T-Online had already replaced Overture with Google on August 7th.

While the deal between Yahoo and Overture has not been fully completed, it is expected to be closed sometime in the last quarter of this year. T-Online, on the other hand, claims to have not received the official injunction yet and will not necessarily comply. According to an IDG News article by Gillian Law, a spokesperson for T-Online said, “We have not received any injunction so far. Once an injunction reaches us, it will be given to our legal department for thorough examination.”

The #1 spot for the keyword “injunction” costs just $0.16 per click through on Overture though one can be sure the real thing has cost them quite a bit more in the European theatre.

Search engine marketing firms have reported much lower than expected results from contextual advertising campaigns, comparing click-throughs and actual purchases to the numbers shown by banner advertising. For the accountants and business planners at Google and Overture the news couldn’t come at a worse time. Both Google and Overture are depending on Contextual Advertising programs as significant revenue sources this year. If the bottom drops out of this emerging market, as it has from the once popular banner advertising market, both search firms could take a pretty large financial hit. Read more…

Gravatar
Thursday, September 4th, 2003

FindWhat.Com purchases MIVA

More interesting developments in the world of SE business…

MIVA, the popular shopping basket system has been purchased by PPC search tool FindWhat.Com. While being a fine PPC search tool, FindWhat.Com has never been a major player on the search engine scene however they are a notable entity. Why would they purchase MIVA?

StepForth staff have two guesses.

-> The first is FindWhat.Com wants to challenge Google’s new E-Commerce search tool, Froogle with their own E-Com tool.

-> The second guess has FindWhat.Com bulking itself up to make a more attractive acquisition target for a larger player such as MSN or, even Google itself.

The one thing we are pretty sure of is that this round of mergers and acquisitions is going to continue into 2004.

According to a recent study from Maryland-based, Context-Based Research Group, three of five search engine users can not tell the difference between a paid listing and the traditional un-paid listings. In May 2002, the US Federal Trade Commission developed voluntary guidelines for search engines to follow that were supposed to clarify for end-users which ads were paid and which were organic, (or free). Read more…

Size is the latest salvo fired in the search engine wars. Last week, Overture announced that its recent acquisition, AlltheWeb had expanded its database to cover 3,151,743,117 pages and had grown larger than Google’s database by about 68Million pages. Google responded yesterday by quietly announcing that it is now spidering 3,307,998,701 on an active basis. In the world of search engines, size matters from an end user perspective. The more pages in the database, the better chances of finding the information you are looking for.

Google and AlltheWeb have a history of competing to be the biggest database that goes back to 2001. This time however, the battle will be a bit more interesting as Overture also announced that AlltheWeb is introducing a stronger ranking algorithm in the coming weeks in an ongoing attempt to produce more relevant results than Google. With the coming integration of AltaVista and AlltheWeb, both owned by Overture, (which in turn is owned by Yahoo), this latest skirmish in the over-all search engine war will be a long and hard-fought one.

The federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (view the entire act here) currently holds any search engine liable for linking to a web site which may be infringing copyrights. As a result, if a search engine refuses to remove all links to an infringing web site, the copyright holder can sue. What is wrong with this? Search engines such as Google with over 3 billion web pages indexed simply do not have the time or the legal backing to investigate every claim of copyright infringement. Despite this obvious limitation, however, Google is forced to review and rule on all complaints summarily. For example a claim by the Church of Scientology requested an anti-scientology site be removed because it contained copyrighted excerpts from their writings. When Google promptly removed the web site, free speech advocates made quite a commotion, citing that such censorship reduces the freedom of speech that the Internet naturally provides . (click here for this story)

Should search engines have to deal with this or should all legal preceedings be focused on the infringing web site? The search engines don’t believe they should have any liability. Unfortunately, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act cannot be reviewed simply on the basis of this claim. In the future there are chances that a culmination of other unrelated claims will prompt a review, but until then we just may not know what we are missing on the search engines.