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Thursday, October 16th, 2003

Consumer Product Sites Grow

Consumer comparison websites such as Froogle, BizRate, Shopping.Com and PriceGrabber.Com are beginning to attract huge numbers of users each month. In the past year, PriceGrabber has seen an 81% growth rate! These types of sites allow consumers to examine and compare products based on price, user reviews, features and functionality. With the ability to find information on almost any product advertised on the Web, online consumers are demanding more specific details about potential purchases before deciding which specific widget to buy. Online advertisers are urged to use consumer comparison search tools and to develop short but highly informative product descriptions detailing cost, benefits, merchant reviews and user reports. As with any form of advertising or marketing, the more people are exposed to your product, the better the chance of them purchasing your product. These days though, consumers are demanding to know as much as you do about these products before spending and it is the merchant’s job to make the process as simple as possible by providing the product information their customers expect.

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Thursday, October 16th, 2003

IBM WebFountain Splash

IBM has introduced its new search tool, WebFountain to rave reviews from the IT community. WebFountain is the result of three years of research and development from engineers at Big Blue and may be the most well developed analytical search and data-mining tool to emerge to date. The search engine itself is housed on an IBM custom built super-computer containing over a petabyte (1024 Terabytes or over 1000 trillion bytes) of storage space with over 3-billion pages indexed, 2-billion pages stored and the ability to mine and analyze data from over 20-million pages a day! WebFountain has been designed for business and research use rather than home or interest surfing and could become a very powerful tool for managers, post-secondary students, researchers and entrepreneurs. Through several of the analysis features, users can find relational data between several sources at the same time while compiling results in a separate search-window for rapid access. IBM has invested an enormous amount of money into developing WebFountain. The tool is representative of the newest class of information applications which won’t just draw relevant information but will actually find facts and patterns amongst documents, analyzing and compiling the data while the searches are being conducted. Google is also working with applied information analysis tools as witnessed by last month’s purchase of Applied Semantics.

One of the oldest search tools on the web has recently introduced a sleazy marketing campaign targeting other search engine’s clients. Lycos, owned by Madrid based TerraLycos, is using GATOR advertising to display advertisments for their free email system when users (who’ve either downloaded or been infected with GATOR software) go to competitor’s sites. Read more…

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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)

The blogger.com interface - very simple to use!If you have yet to hear of blogging then let me warn you now, you will be hearing a lot about it over the next few months.

What is a blog? Here is the answer straight from the pioneers of blogging at Blogger.com:

“A blog is a web page made up of usually short, frequently updated posts that are arranged chronologically like a what’s new page or a journal. The content and purposes of blogs varies greatly from links and commentary about other web sites, to news about a company/person/idea, to diaries, photos, poetry, mini-essays, project updates, even fiction.” 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.

What will Microsoft do to increase its presence in the search engine industry? For a long time MSN has barely been a going concern in the search engine industry, but now with Google whispering about a ’04 IPO and Yahoo! buying Overture and Inktomi, there doesn’t seem to be many options left for the software giant. Here is some insight from MSN product manager Lisa Gurry:

“Lisa Gurry says the company plans to move aggressively to develop its in-house search expertise while continuing to rely on Yahoo as a supplier. ‘We will make the right investments to stay competitive in this space,’ says Gurry.” (USA Today)

Does “make the right investments” highlight a potential buyout of a known search service? This target has long been debated but the field of potential targets have narrowed considerably if we rule out a major buy of Google or Yahoo! by Microsoft.

“For the record, Gurry says Microsoft is not considering buying Yahoo or Google ‘at this time.'”

Who does that leave? Our money is on an acquisition of Teoma/AskJeeves. Teoma is really the only search engine that I can think of which has demonstrated the potential to innovate and maintain the clean search image that Google so quickly rose from. I suppose, however, that this prediction is a no-brainer since there is really very few to pick from.

Till our next news.
– Ross Dunn

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Wednesday, August 20th, 2003

Overture Goes Deep

Overture has introduced a new feature that will allow its paid advertisements to come up under a wider range of keyword phrases. Advertisers will be able to choose between two unique listing formulas, Phrase Match and Broad Match. Phrase Match will allow listings to be displayed when a portion of a keyword phrase appears in the search-user’s request. For instance, when a search engine user types “Good Toronto Tours”, a site with the keyword phrase Toronto Tours would be displayed. Currently, advertisers bid on specific keywords and phrases and only appear when that phrase is entered directly. The other option, Broad Match will serve a listing when a portion of a keyword phrase is used in the search query, regardless of the order of words. For example, “Tours of Toronto Ontario” would produce a site bidding on the keywords Tours, Toronto or Ontario.

– Jim Hedger

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Wednesday, August 20th, 2003

Yurweb.com – Changes

Two weeks ago we wrote about a new search tool, yeswacked.us. Our editor noted the silliness of the name, as did several others. Late last week, the site designer contacted us to let us know he had changed the name and made the search tool easier to use. While the tool was already easy to use, the redesign makes viewing results much simpler on the eyes. The old design opened four results pages on one page, (using FRAMES). Now, results are shown on two pages, making each set of listings readable without the need to scroll to read the results. The new name fits well, yurweb.com. It is worth a look.

– Jim Hedger