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SES San Francisco. Live Reporting Starts August 12

July 11th, 2012 Comments off

Technology Report will be live blogging SES San Francisco, one of the world’s oldest and arguably the top online marketing conference*.   Most of that coverage will be here at Technology Report but I will also have posts at JoeDuck and our Retire USA Retirement Blog when the topics may be of interest to seniors and retired folks.

Technology Report was actually started with my California Technnology buddy John Ghysels to cover SES plus other conference events in Silicon Valley like the Mashup Camp and Startup Camps  (I miss those!)  but I have not been to SES for several years and I’m looking forward to reporting from there this year and giving extra  attention to the topic of Search Engine Optimization or ‘SEO’, something always near and dear to me as somebody who supervises so many websites.

Social media has shaken things up quite a bit both online and in the SEO field.   In my view Google has become much more conservative ranking websites.  Google now assumes very correctly that most new websites are spam or very low quality sites, and therefore Google looks for “big signals” to allow new sites to rank well for valuable terms.   This adds yet another burden to new websites that deserve to rank well, especially those that seek valuable niche markets.

For more about the upcoming SES Conference visit their website, review the SES Conference Agenda Online, or go directly to the following conference highlights here (these link directly to the SES Official Site):

INTEGRATED MARKETING

SES Conference first timers will want to note that this conference is fast and furious, and you can’t possible take in everything over the course of three days.    I’d recommend you review the materials carefully before the show and pick a few topics and speakers you’ll want to hear and be sure to get to those talks.  Ask a question or introduce yourself to the speakers afterwards.    (tip – you’ll certainly want to have Google’s Avinash Kaushik on that list).

SES Parties:   Sadly, the incredible  ”Google Dance” is no longer a feature of the SES conference but you’ll want to keep your eyes open for party opportunities with the many exhibitors at the Conference.    The burst of the dot com bubble meant downsizing of both internet companies and their parties, the best of which was the amazing “Google Dance” held at the close of SES on the Google campus in Mountain View.

* There are basically three major online strategy conferences and the history of these events is quite fun and interesting.  They are SES, SMX, and PubCon.

Facebook IPO values company at over 100 billion

May 18th, 2012 Comments off

Call me crazy but I think the frenzy over Facebook shares is very shortsighted and another example of internet bubble trouble brewing.    Facebook is a fantastic company with an amazing product, but I think people coming in now are probably overestimating the revenue potential for the company.   Note how, in the IPO road show, insiders were cautious about claims for the future.   Smart.   In fact possibly a way to outsmart naive non-insiders who will simply think  1. Facebook is huge.  2.Facebook is growing 3.  Facebook shares are a good value  (BUZZER HERE!).   At this valuation Facebook will have to be very, very good at monetizing traffic, and this is an area in which they have had somewhat limited success so far.

A key factor here is how Facebook will evolve in China and India and Europe.   Major inroads there could mean profits will catch up with expectations, but failures there will make it hard for Facebook to dominate the social media landscape in the same way Google has dominated search.

Facebook IPO to raise about $10,000,000,000. Value of Facebook approaches 100 Billion.

May 7th, 2012 Comments off

The numbers are staggering as Facebook prepares to launch her initial public offering.   With Facebook share prices expected to be $28-$35, Facebook’s public value will be 77-96 Billion dollars, making the company one ofthe biggest in the world and founder Mark Zuckerberg one of the richest humans ever to walk the planet.  Also one of the youngest rich humans.  At 27, the wiley coyote (or maybe better the roadrunner) of American Internet Entrepreneurs has come to dominate both his company and the social media market niche in a way noone has ever done before.

 

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg fielded questions about the No. 1 social network’s slowing revenue growth … as he kicked off a cross-country roadshow to promote the company’s $10 billion IPO.   MORE from Reuters

Facebook Facts from Facebook.com

August 26th, 2011 Comments off

Facebook Facts from Facebook.com as of August 2011:

These are Facebook facts as described by the company in August of 2011 – if you read this post later than that it’s likely most of these numbers have *increased*.       Very notable in my view is the huge number of “active users”, the huge collective time they spend online, and the fact that mobile users are twice as active as non-mobile, though this last point does not necessarily mean that use will increase as far more people flow into mobile use – rather it may simply indicate that early adopters in mobile are more active users and thus mobile use will trend along the lines of regular use as more mainstreamers start accessing Facebook on mobile devices.

Facebook  Facts:

More than 750 million active users

50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day

Average user has 130 friends

People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

Social Media Activity on Facebook

There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)
Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events

Average user creates 90 pieces of content each month

More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.

Facebook’s Global Reach
More than 70 translations available on the site
About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States
Over 300,000 users helped translate the site through the translations application

Facebook’s Social Media Platform
Entrepreneurs and developers from more than 190 countries build with Facebook Platform
People on Facebook install 20 million applications every day
Every month, more than 250 million people engage with Facebook on external websites
Since social plugins launched in April 2010, an average of 10,000 new websites integrate with Facebook every day
More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook, including over 80 of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 websites and over half of comScore’s Global Top 100 websites

Facebook’s Mobile Exposure
There are more than 250 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.
People that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users.
There are more than 200 mobile operators in 60 countries working to deploy and promote Facebook mobile products

GateKeepers Post to Launch February 1st

January 26th, 2011 Comments off

An interesting and articulate group of voices in online publishing have come together to launch “The Gatekeepers Post”, a social community that will be discussing and writing on topics of interest to the publishing community, including how fast and powerfully online publishing is changing the landscape in publishing and news.

——————————-
Press Release:

THE GATEKEEPERS POST LAUNCHES
A NEW SOCIAL MEDIA BOOK PUBLISHING COMMUNITY

FOR RELEASE: Monday, January 31, 2011

Author and media personality, Jeff Rivera launches The Gatekeepers Post, a new social media community intended to make a significant impact on the conversation of book publishing.

With the decline in print book sales, the increase of eBooks, the rapid closing of independent bookstores and the boom in young adult fiction, the world of book publishing is experiencing a flux few could have anticipated even five years ago.

Industry outlets have struggled to keep pace with the new developments in publishing but the changes are happening too fast for anyone to cover it all.  The industry and public’s insatiable appetite for fresh news on the rapid changes has only increased.

The Gatekeepers Post hopes to satisfy that appetite.  A cross between Huffington Post and Publishers Weekly, the outlet features some of the most important and respected voices in book publishing.

Joined by an editorial advisory board that includes the likes of print and online magazine editor Neal Boulton;TechSavvy high-tech consulting CEO Scott Steinberg; New York Times bestselling author and Publisher, Zane; Planned TV Arts’ Rick Frishman; Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives Ed Nawotka; Smashwords’ Mark Coker; Thomas Dunne Book’s Brendan Deneen; eReads.com publisher and veteran literary agent Richard Curtis; Editor-in-Chief of Gawker.tv Richard Blakeley; former Writers Digest Books Editor-at-Large Jane Friedman; Authorpreneur Joe Konrath; and Hachette’s Director of Multicultural Publicity Linda Duggins.  The new outlet also features Gatekeepers bloggers that site founder and Editor-in-Chief Jeff Rivera personally handpicked. “The support from the industry has been overwhelming,” says Rivera, “I’m proud of the high caliber of Gatekeepers and guest bloggers who’ll be joining us.”  Veteran agents, major editors, librarians, publishers, publicists and authors such as New York Times bestseller Alisa Valdes Rodriguez will be lending their voice to the community as well. Book publishing heavy weights such as Andrea Barzvi of ICM, Keith Ogorek of Author Solutions, Harvey Klinger of the Harvey Klinger Agency, Bill Gladstone of Waterside Productions, Glenn Yeffeth of BenBella Books, Steve Wilson CEO of  Fast Pencil and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein of Gotham Group have also joined.

A steady stream of book-centric reviews, headlining news, articles, and op-ed pieces, will be incorporated within the outlet along with forthcoming special events such as virtual panel discussions and online conferences.

Gatekeepers Post officially launches on February 1, 2011 at midnight.

Domain Name Speculation

September 26th, 2010 Comments off

Data from Wikipedia’s entry on “Domain Name Speculation

* The number of registrations of .com domain names grew from 23,662,001  in  January 2003 to 80,759,835  in January 2009.

Wiki goes on to note that a quirk in the registration rules led to a surge in the practice of “Domaintasting” where a huge bulk order of domain names would be registered for a short time.   Only the names that created click revenue from pay per click ads would be kept.    This led to new domain hosting companies set up simply to filter for marginally valuable names that could be set up to get click revenue, and then to a new rule in June 2008 from ICANN, the body that oversees domain registrations.  ICANN started to limit the number of domains that a registrar could delete in the ICANN “grace period” where no fees were charged.   These grace period deletions fell by 99.7% the following year as the practice of “domain tasting” became less profitable.

Verisign Domain Brief in June 2009 identified  92 million COM and NET domain names, 24 percent with one page websites, 64% have multipage websites and 12% have no associated websites.

These last numbers suggest to me that the speculation is not as rampant as most seem to think – ie most sites are multiple page implying content and not speculation.    Of course systems like the one I’m testing now at Godaddy that auto-generate several pages of content make it even harder to distinguish between  sites that are driven speculatively vs those that are driven more by a passion to communicate or quality initiatives.       As the quality, sharable content online increases and systems become smarter I think we may see that it will be impossible to distinguish between sites created by humans and those made automatically.

Report: Social Media Costing UK Billions in Wasted Time

August 5th, 2010 Comments off

Reuters is referencing a new report suggesting that social media surfing is costing UK business billions in wasted productivity as workers play on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites rather than … get work done.

Although the initial reaction will likely be to crack down on office time surfing, this may represent an opportunity for clever brands to create considerable buzz if they could channel worker activity a bit more constructively.     For example Google’s ranking algorithms now appear to factor in social media elements such as blogs and Twitter, which often offer the freshest and highly relevant content for a given search query.    If hundreds of workers are tweeting on behalf of a brand – even if much of that also involved aimless socializing – the synergistic effects on ranking and “buzz” could be considerable.

Although we’re obviously not suggesting this is a viable strategy for most businesses, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to keep workers away from time wasting surfing as social media becomes pretty much ubiquitous – accessible via mobile, office computer, and other devices as well as integrated as a key part of most people’s lives.

Yahoo / Bing Search Alliance Update

July 15th, 2010 Comments off

Below is a quick summary of the most recent update from Yahoo regarding the Bing (Microsoft Search) / Yahoo advertising alliance, an attempt by both companies to stem the tide of Google’s search dominance.   Yahoo’s history of bad search decisions makes me a bit worried that they may try to compromise Bing’s (pretty good) search quality in favor of paid listings, further eroding the credibility gap between Google and Yahoo/Bing search.

Ironically Google search is probably more vulnerable than ever to the advent of a new, great search engine  thanks to Google’s current tendency to   1.  Elevate old and well SEOd (Search Optimized) websites above newer, better ones   2. Avoid proper policing big players like Ebay / Amazon who often appear high in paid and sometimes even organic rankings despite no/thin content about the query.  3. Maintain unreasonably high per click charges on many terms, effectively favoring the big money / big box  advertisers over small businesses.   4.  Not use enough social media feedback to help rank sites (they use some and I’d guess are slowly integrating this, but nobody has made the breakthrough that will come from clever “crowdsourcing” about websites.        5. THROUGH 10.      LACK OF TRANSPARENCY!       Google remains very opaque when it comes to website rankings, and Yahoo in their infinite lack of cleverness 3 years back missed a golden opportunity to come to the rescue of advertisers, webmasters, and most importantly users by creating a more level field with a lot more information about how rankings work combined with public identification of site owners, webmasters, and spammers/ abusers.    Creating this type of transparency would solve many of the problems that currently plague the search game, most importantly the problems that come from webmasters trying to please Google rather than create new, innovative sites.    Best single example is the fiasco of Google’s insistence on “Nofollow” links, which have seriously distorted the entire search landscape to favor cleverly optimized / costly sites over new mom and pop operations.

You see this often  in the travel space where large, thin sites outrank rich, local sites that are newer and don’t have the link base of the older sites.     With Google as pretty much the only search in town, new links will flow mostly as a function of  the rank of the website, so we have a circular system where the “rich get richer”.     [for the record this aspect of the algorith benefits me in the case of some of my very old websites, so this is not a "sour grapes" rant as much as a critique of the approach].

However I’m not holding my breath on Bing Yahoo taking up much of Google’s market share.    As we’ve noted before Google remains an excellent tool, and it took hold of people’s search consciousness at the time they were developing their online habits, so even a superior search would have trouble hurting Google’s dominance, and to Google’s credit I think they continue to approach things more from a quality side than a revenue one.

From Yahoo:

Assuming our testing continues to yield high quality results, we anticipate that our organic search results will be powered by Bing beginning in the August/September [2010] timeframe.

This appears to be a good sign that they will not compromise organic quality in favor of elevating paid listings, a move that would probably lead to significant loss of their current (low) market share.

From Yahoo:

Compare your organic search rankings on Yahoo! Search and Bing for the keywords that drive your business, to help determine any potential impact to your traffic and sales.


Decide if you’d like to modify your paid search campaigns to compensate for any changes in organic referrals that you anticipate
Review the Bing webmaster tools and optimize your website for the Bing crawler, as Bing results will be displayed for approximately 30%* of overall search query market share after this change

This on the other hand seems a little more alarming, suggesting that people may want to pony up to maintain their ranks after the Bing transition.      Over the coming weeks there will be a lot of Bing quality testing by other SEO centric websites and we’ll try to summarize that in a later post.      We’ll also be blogging the upcoming SES San Francisco (Formerly SES San Jose) search conference – the most influential search gathering  in the world, and have more on the Bing Yahoo changes.

———–  Full Text of Yahoo’s Note ———-

Dear Advertiser,

As we continue to work closely with Microsoft to implement our search alliance, we wanted to provide you with an update on our progress, as well as call out some important, upcoming milestones to help ensure you are prepared for the changes to come.

Transition with Quality
Our goal remains providing a quality transition experience for advertisers in the U.S. and Canada in 2010, while protecting the holiday season. We’ve continued to make good progress against this goal, and we regularly evaluate our progress. However, please remember that, as we continue to go through our series of checkpoints, if we conclude that it would improve the overall experience, we may choose to defer the transition to 2011.

Organic Search Transition
To date, we’ve focused most of our communications to you on the paid search transition to adCenter. However, another key aspect of the Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance is the transition of Yahoo! organic search results (those found on the main body of the page). Assuming our testing continues to yield high quality results, we anticipate that our organic search results will be powered by Bing beginning in the August/September timeframe.

If organic search results are an important source of referrals to your website, you’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared for this change:

Compare your organic search rankings on Yahoo! Search and Bing for the keywords that drive your business, to help determine any potential impact to your traffic and sales
Decide if you’d like to modify your paid search campaigns to compensate for any changes in organic referrals that you anticipate
Review the Bing webmaster tools and optimize your website for the Bing crawler, as Bing results will be displayed for approximately 30%* of overall search query market share after this change

For more specifics on the organic search transition, please refer to the Self-service Advertiser FAQs on the Yahoo! Transition Center.

Organic and Paid Search Testing
To help us deliver on our goal of transition with quality, we are conducting the necessary tests to ensure that all of the many complex, logistical pieces are in place. While there’s nothing you need to do to prepare for testing, please keep in mind the following:

Though much of our testing is already happening offline, this month we’ll also test the delivery of organic and paid search results provided by Microsoft on live Yahoo! traffic
Testing volumes will fluctuate during this period, with paid search volume in particular kept low enough to help minimize any potential impact to your account

Editorial Guidelines
Yahoo! and Microsoft have created joint editorial guidelines that will begin taking effect for both Yahoo! and Microsoft paid search advertisers in early August. We encourage you to review these now, so that you understand any potential impact to your ads or keywords. Notable changes include new guidelines for gambling and contests, and disallowed content. For a detailed overview of the editorial policy changes that will soon take effect, please read the New Editorial Guidelines article.

We are committed to making this transition as seamless and beneficial for you as possible. We appreciate your business, and look forward to bringing you the benefits of the Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance.

Sincerely,
Your Partners at Yahoo!

Disclaimer:   Joe has Yahoo Stock.   Not that he’s happy about that fact.  Nope, not happy at all.

Crowdsourcing Microsoft Office 2010

June 30th, 2010 Comments off

Wired has an interesting  article noting how Microsoft “crowdsourced” some of the development of Office 2010.     Although I’m a user of Google Documents and not a fan of the MS Office Suites, feeling they are too big, clunky and overengineered for 99% of the tasks most people need, clearly I’m in the minority because, as Wired notes in the article, only 4% of online users “regularly use” Google Docs where 67% say they use MS Office products.     I think familiarity is a key issue here, and it will take more than a decade for the MS dominance to give way to the online suite tools that probably need another few generations of improvements and visibility to come into widespread use.

Of the 2 million Send a Smile comments, 81,000 included the senders’ e-mail addresses so the engineers working to improve Office could follow up with them.

To their credit Microsoft created a way for beta testers to give feedback and follow up, and hopefully this innovation will result in a product that is superior.    In my view Crowdsourcing is arguably the most powerful aspect of social media, but the science of using it effectively is still in its infancy and we’ll need very clever routines to make sense of human input – much of which is counterproductive, nonsensical, or simply worthless.     For the Office Suite project Microsoft developed relevancy algorithms to process the millions of comments, and it would be interesting to hear more about the approaches that went into the evolution of that  process.
Read More http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/06/microsoft-office-2010/#ixzz0sMYfsPaw

(Thanks to Ken Kaplan at Intel for noting this WIRED story)

Google Social Circle

February 8th, 2010 Comments off

Google labs is testing a very interesting new feature within the Google search results which lists and ranks content from people that have connections to your own social networks, websites, blogs, etc.   It’s called Google Social Circle and I think this approach has a lot of potential.

Google labs writes:

We’ve taken steps to improve the relevance of our search results with personalization, but today’s launch takes that one step further. With Social Search, Google finds relevant public content from your friends and contacts and highlights it for you at the bottom of your search results. When I do a simple query for [new york], Google Social Search includes my friend’s blog on the results page …

Filtering the massive oceans of content is what Google has been doing so effectively for some time, but the social media explosion has created a new kind of relevance Google’s basic ranking system has not been taking into account.    The content of trusted friends and associates is often going to be more relevant to us than that of, say, internet marketeers in a foreign country.     If, for example, my pal has travelled to Morrocco I’m going to trust his stuff – and probably be more interested in it – than information from strangers.    Google Social Circle will incorporate that relevance into the search results, and I think by doing this they may succeed where Facebook and Twitter have pretty dramatically failed.    Facebook’s search system and layout – in my experience – makes it very hard to search for information.  It can even be difficult to find a person you know, let alone find content they have created that is relevant to your search.    Twitter lists are something of a step in the right direction of targeting for relevant information, but Twitter search is severely lacking and I don’t even know if they they are particularly interested in providing the kind of contextual content mapping Google is testing with Social Circle.

Another interesting – some would say sinister – aspect of this approach by Google is to create internet environments filled with “trusted online information sources” that have been endorsed by different networks of friends.    Clever use of the data flowing in will allow Google to better screen sites based on human input, which is much harder to spoof than manipulations commonly done as part of aggressive “Search Engine Optimization” tactics.

The Social Circle reminds me of an advanced version of “del.icio.us”, a tagging and bookmarking service aquired (and largely abandoned?) by Yahoo a few years ago.  Delicious allowed users to tag and label sites and content, creating link lists of things relevant to them and giving them the ability to share these links with others.    By automating that process and using their brilliant search algorithm to slice and dice individual information, Google has pushed us one step closer to the holy grail of search – a system that shows us exactly what we want/need to see even if we cannot clearly state exactly what we want or need.