Be on the wave or under it
The News – 12/01/05
Seriously, What’s Google Up To?
With the release of the oddly titled Google Base, Google promises to dominate yet another market: online classifieds. Not content with trying to index the world’s Websites, the new beta service allows people to create even more content, including “all types of online and offline information and images.”
While the company insists Base is not a classified ad service, since this content will be searchable not only on Google Base but also on Google Search, Froogle and Google Local, you know doggone well it will be used for classified ads.
Given the huge decline in newspaper readership, any significant competition in the classified ad business could prove to be the death knell for many metropolitan dailies. And given that many readers of newspapers are switching to online editions, supported by online ads, although not necessarily online classifieds – Google’s service is even more troubling.
According to a report in Editor & Publisher, the Audit Bureau of Circulations' showed a 2.6 percent decline in daily paid circulation for US newspapers, while Nielsen//NetRatings says newspaper Web site viewership grew 11 percent year-over-year to 39.3 million unique visitors in October 2005, or 26 percent of the active US Internet population.
Newspapers’ online growth is greater than the growth of the active Internet universe as a whole, which rose 3 percent, so this flight to the Web is concerning for newspaper companies dependent on classified ads.
Google says it is not planning at this point to offer its own ads on Google Base, but I can’t believe that’s not part of the ultimate plan.
So we have to ask ourselves, if Google Base isn’t about advertising, what the heck it is about?
Certainly there are many different kinds of opportunities for people to post their own content on the Web – blogs, for example. Google did swallow Blogger, and so offers a blogging service of its own. Google even uses Blogger to make company announcements, like the announcement of the Google Base service.
Let’s dig a little bit into Google Base and see what we can turn up. First off, Google offers various categories of entries, or you can make up your own. Here are their standard categories:
Notice how Google has coyly put classified ads at the bottom by calling them Wanted Ads. Subtle but perhaps telling. Yet on the main Google Base page, among the several examples of entries include Cars for Sale, a category squarely in the classified ad space. Google offers helpful filters to let you search for cars by make and location. I found the Volvo dealer in my neighborhood had many cars listed, Google helpfully provides a map of the area so you can find it.
Since there are perhaps eight other auto dealers in my immediate area, I’m not sure why Borton Volvo is the first one to come up. The listings appear to be ordered alphabetically, kind of like the other advertising medium being threatened by Google Base: the yellow pages. Don’t be surprised if the businesses near you suddenly change to names like AAAAA Borton Volvo and so on.
Of course, there are plenty of car sites out there, such as CarSoup and Cars.com, and there are other search engines who can find you a car, such as Yahoo, who uses AutoTrader’s database, and the granddaddy of them all, Intellichoice. But Google’s integration with Google Maps makes for an interesting edge.
But enough about cars, Google Base will eat newspapers’ lunch in apartment rentals, house sales, jobs, and all the other classified ad categories. Interestingly, the top company in Jobs is not alphabetically advantaged – workHaven. So Google must already be doing some sort of pay for placement scheme.
So, on the one hand, Google is making a play to dominate content on the Web: Other ways to submit information to Google include Google Video, Google Print, and Google Sitemaps. On the other hand, Google uses content to drive advertising revenue. Therefore, despite protestations, Google Base is a key part of the company’s strategy to dominate online advertising.
Stay tuned. The term googlewatching may yet take its place beside the other common verb, googling.
- Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: The WiMAX Guys’ main business is new installs for people who want to set up wireless hotspots such as hotels, warehouses, apartment buildings, and office buildings or hotzones that cover cities. We also sell a knowledge-based Web portal called the MAX K-Base. Check out our main Website at www.TheWiMAXGuys.com.
My wife created a bit of a stir when her op-ed piece was published in the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper after the election. Her article, “Two Nations, Handcuffed Together,” has been commented on or linked to by more than 85 Websites. She’s now created a Website to capitalize on her newfound pundit status. Check it out at www.debellsworth.com.
Many issues ago I debuted SNS Begware, an opportunity for you, gentle reader, to express your appreciation by tipping your server via PayPal. See the sidebar for more info. Total in the kitty so far: $91.48. Thanks Dave!
And now that I’m partnered with one of the largest advertisers on the planet, Google, that should be kicking in serious coin to the StratVantage coffers. Let’s see. The current total is: $16.76. Great. Read this issue on the Web and click on the ads to feed the kitty. You can also shop at Amazon, pay nothing additional, and send a spiff to me.
- The Raw File – SNS is dedicated to delivering the scoop on the latest and greatest. However, I collect lots of information that never makes it into the newsletter before it gets old. I’ve collected all this aging info into a page called The Raw File. This page is the raw information I gather for SNS articles. It’s not pretty, and some may be a little incoherent, but chances are there are still things in TRF that might be news to you. So therefore, use The Raw File at your own risk – it’s 45+ pages of the best stuff that didn’t make it into SNS.
The Raw File
- New Feature: Top 10 Funny Spammer Names – I recently received spam from the following preposterously named individuals:
10. Apocalypse G. Doghouse
9. Triassic V. Mislays
8. Throughway A. Aviatrixes
7. Unflinching C. Multiplication
6. Subordinate D. Windscreen
5. Upstreamed S. Facetious
4. Retaliations O. Bootlegged
3. MuuMuu M. Ignorants
2. Sidelight B. Privations
And the number 1 top Funny Spammer Name:
1. Cornerstone L. Gasser
- Get a Human on the Phone: If you’ve ever been lost in Voicemail Hell (or its cousin, Interactive Voice Response Hell), you’ll appreciate the page that Paul English put together. It lists ways to get a human on the phone for lots of major companies.
Break out of IVR
- Adults at 50? I’m fond of telling my 23-year-old son that new research has found that the brain doesn’t stop maturing until age 25. Well, looks like I can keep saying that for another 25 years. Recent research shows that myelin, the sheath that acts as an insulator on brain cell connections, doesn’t stop thickening until after age 45. Thus, researcher Dr. George Bartzokis says, “We are truly adults at our 50th birthday.” Heh. That’ll annoy my son!
Thanks to the much younger, but still quite old Peter Ellsworth for the pointer.
- So You Think You’re Smart? Well, take this Quick and Dirty IQ Test. I’ll tell you my score if you tell me yours.
- Wireless Pioneer Pooh-Poohs Wireless Broadband: According to Andrew Viterbi, co-founder of Qualcomm, wireless broadband won’t take over the world, because it’s too expensive. This is quite a silly argument. Have you checked the prices of DVD players recently? The DVD, which has been the fastest-adopted new technology ever (introduced in 1997; now in more than 75 million U.S. households), demonstrates that once an electronic product achieves mass market acceptance, prices go through the floor.
Saying the price won't come down on wireless broadband reminds me of the position AT&T took before MCI got into long distance. Of course the price will come down. Already Verizon has reduced its price for its EV-DO high speed data service, since Sprint came online with a competitive service.
If the industry can deliver TV on demand via wireless, people would pay for that. Currently they are trying to deliver audio on demand to cell phones and that will help develop the need for wireless broadband.
Plus, Viterbi vastly under-estimates the demand for interactive games, although he's right when he says the average consumer's current computing use does not require tons of bandwidth. Yet he forgets I already have a wireless broadband connection to my house, like millions of others: satellite TV, with a DVR but no other interactivity.
Wireless broadband is really such a big concept, involving cell phones, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, satellite, UWB, heck, even Bluetooth, that making generalities like Viterbi does isn't really very helpful.
Nonetheless, will there be billions of wireless broadband users in the near or mid-term future? Hard to say. If the price point is right, I think there could be. But I sure wouldn’t bet against it.
Thanks to prospective SNS Reader Tim Root for the pointer.
- Wacky Laptop Tricks: Minneapolis’ Dunwoody Institute’s Rich Anderson’s a bit of a laptop nut.
- Washington Post Redefinitions 2005: In another possibly ersatz FISH (Forwarded Internet Serial Humor), here are the winning submissions to the Post’s yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words:
1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
- OK, One More FISH – the Effect of Peanut Butter: The Annals of Improbable Research, the creators of the annual Ig Nobel prize, presented a scholarly paper with dozens of co-authors, entitled The Effects of Peanut Butter on the Rotation of the Earth.
- If You’ve Made it This Far: Well, there still have been no more entries in our contest. As you may remember, Alert SNS Reader Ken Florian correctly identified the song containing the lyric “And I said yes sir brother sheriff, and that's your wife on the back of my horse.” You may recall that the song is indeed Gangster of Love, a song made popular by Stevie “Guitar” Miller and first appearing on his album Sailor. Miller did not, however, write the song, which was
penned by Johnny “Guitar” Watson, who had a minor hit with it in 1957. My favorite other cover recording of the song is by Johnny Winter, on an obscure disk called Black Cat Bone.
You may further recall the contest was to email me the retort to the partial music lyric buried somewhere in the previous newsletter. The prize was one stick of totally obsolete PC memory. Since Mr. Florian neglected to also answer the tiebreaker, “Who is Hoops McCann?” twice, he is not the winner. Frankly, I thought the tiebreaker was pretty easy, especially if you use my favorite search engine, Google. Perhaps you should try Dumbfind, and put in the names of various categories of popular entertainment until you find the two answers.
So, to claim the memory, Alert SNS Readers must first answer that tiebreaker and then also tell me where I can buy the LP featuring songs containing the lyrics “nauseous gasser” and “merry-go-round” for less than $69. It’s only going to get harder unless someone can emerge victorious. Of course, buying me the LP would make one an instant winner, regardless of previous right answers!
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14, 1928 - July 5, 2003
Jane C. Ellsworth
20, 1928 - July 20, 2003