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Google’s tactic on vertical search: Simply buy em May 5, 2007

Posted by Daniel Gardner in alarm clock, Business Thoughts, Fox, Google, Internet, mashable, News Corp, TechCrunch.

Rumors this morning are spreading that Google may be positioned to acquire vertical job search site SimplyHired (see the Alarm:Clock, Mashable and TechCrunch stories), a vertical job search engine who’s business as a job search company has somewhat stagnated over the past year but has blossomed as an careers engine for third part sites, specifically MySpace Careers.

My take on this deal is that Fox Interactive (part of News Corp) will acquire SimplyHired, they last year invested 13.5m in SimplyHired and use SimplyHired to power MySpace Careers (owned by Fox), even if Google do decide to acquire SimplyHired, Fox will put in a counter  bid to buy the rest of SimplyHired (which I am surprised they haven’t already done). In the event that Google try to pay an exorbitant price (YouTube anyone?) Fox will pull away or damage the MySpace distribution deal and leave Google holding a floundering Job Search engine they could of built themselves.

Yahoo and Google in online advertising dual May 1, 2007

Posted by Daniel Gardner in Advertising, Current Events, Google, Internet, TechCrunch, Yahoo.
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Many companies (particularally conservative corporates) like the machine gun style of display advertising, taken from  traditional advertising mediums such as Print and Television and thrown into the 21st century by putting them online, basically this method of advertising involves finding websites that attract there target demographic, placing advertisements and opening fire, hitting many people with only a few being there actual targets.

For branding purposes this type of display advertising works well as many eyes view your brand, but for most companies advertising is done to increase sales and with the constant pestering of marketing to show ROI on there advertising campaigns the newer CPC style of marketing makes sense as it puts the onus of finding interested customers onto the advertiser and means the advertiser only pays for those who are interested in there message they want to convey.

I have been intently watching the evolution of advertising and in the past few years two search engine giants in particular that have two very different strategies, these being Google and Yahoo.

Over the past few years Google have been cashing in on there multi-billion dollar Adsense cash cow while Yahoo have sat back with there floundering display advertising model until it became too much and announced there very Google like Panama product  last year, which would force these rivals into a head to head match.

While the panama project I think was a necessary and good move for Yahoo they will not knock Google off there perch for quite a while due to Google’s huge customer base that was created due to it’s first mover advantage in evangelising the CPC model.

Google, intent to hold onto there crown as web advertising king acquired DoubleClick for $3.1bn recently, putting them right into the thick of Yahoo’s display advertising territory, with an already large customer base DoubleClick was a good acquisition to enter Google into this market.

Yahoo however have taken a different approach, already owning a significant portion of the display advertising market they have brought the fight to Google by acquiring Right Media for $680m, whilst the size of this acquisition is dwarfed by Google’s DoubleClick acquisition in monetary value they have it seem decided to out-innovate Google in revolutionizing this market by allowing customers to bid on the ad space they want in real time and awarding the space to the highest bidder, eliminating negotiating costs and allowing more revenues to be passed on to the company supplying the ad space.

I believe this is a particularly good move by Yahoo as it allows them to out pace Google in innovation in this sector and allow them to grow there own advertising brand organically whereas Google will have separate branding under both DoubleClick and themselves not to mention they saved themselves a mint!

Saying this though I do not doubt Google and there ability to capitalise in the online advertising industry, they will probably even have something similar to Right Media’s functionality in the coming months but Yahoo look to be keeping Google on there toes, maybe even taking there eyes off there Adsense goldmine just a little bit while Panama swoops in.

With all these acquisitions it’s an exciting time in the online advertising world indeed!

My thoughts on Joost April 23, 2007

Posted by Daniel Gardner in Advertising, Business Thoughts, Internet, Joost, TV.

I have been using Joost since I got my Joost invite on the 17th, I signed up after I heard it was launching ‘soon’ (in early February) though was at that time quite dubious as to how it would work and what I would actually be able to view due to bad experiences with other commercial type content sites.

The first thing that struck me as a particularly good feature in Joost (though an obvious one) is the ability to watch shows outside of the browser window, while the browser is an easy way to get to where you want to go when you are away from your PC it cannot compare to the experience you get from a full featured application, the interface is slick, easy to use and surprisingly fast, most technical people who would want to use this service and are comfortable viewing TV on a computer I think have a laptop anyway so this is sort of a moot point and a thick client makes sense.

The second thing I like about Joost is the ability to choose which episode you want to watch, again this is quite obvious especially with the availability of multimedia content on demand online but I honestly didn’t expect it, I thought Joost was another method to view normal TV online due to the complexity’s of getting content providers to dice up there content in order to allow users to choose which segment they want to watch.

The quality I think is acceptable for internet TV, I have no problems streaming it on my Cable connection though I would like to be able to display this content on my TV, I would be more than happy to fork out a monthly fee in order to be able to broadcast shows straight from the web onto my TV in a higher quality format.

Getting this content onto the TV I think would be a major advantage for Joost, it seems like they are getting interest by major corporations who want to get there content out there though as has been pointed out in many other people before, the mass market doesn’t want to watch TV on there PC, they want to be able to sit in there lounge room and enjoy there favorite show, by becoming a key provider with plenty of good content and partnering with major ISP’s Joost could mirror there content from these ISP’s saving there own bandwidth and that of there ISP while at the same time creating a lock in with that company for the consumer.

This is where I think Joost needs to head to penetrate most homes and to be honest I think I would pay for it, I currently pay $80 a month for my internet connection and another $99 for my Pay-TV, paying $150 for both would be very reasonable especially since I would be able to view international content.

I think I will continue to use Joost and am excited to see where it goes in the future though no matter whether it reaches my TV or not I would love to see some more Discovery and History type channels.

Is targeting Microsoft keeping Google’s eyes off the prize? April 18, 2007

Posted by Daniel Gardner in Business Thoughts, Google, Internet, TechCrunch, techmeme, Yahoo.
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Today at the Web 2.0 Expo Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced that Google will be releasing a PowerPoint like presentation tool for there online office offering sitting along there current Email, Word Processing and Spreadsheet tools.

Google is obviously serious about taking on Microsoft’s lucrative office suite head on as they now have the four most important applications of Microsoft’s Office suite despite Schmidt’s nonsense comment “We don’t think it’s a competitor to Microsoft Office”.

There is no doubt in my mind that Google are on to a winner here and will gain significant adoption if the product is integrated effectively into there existing office line-up though pricing pressures that Google and other online office vendors are putting on online office products will ensure that Google will never reach anywhere near the profitability they treasure in the Advertising space.

I think that Google needs to stick to there previous and most important strength which is leveraging off other companies platforms to perform advertising which means they need to stop building there own solutions and start growing there partner network, by utilising partners Google can mitigate the risk of moving into emerging product spaces such as online office products and can focus on increasing there advertising revenues (Kudos to Google on there Double-Click purchase), continuing to create these products just means that Google moves further away from being an advertising company and more like a product company (without the fat product revenues of companies like Microsoft).

I think that Google are still a great company and I don’t doubt there ability to grow though I just don’t understand what Google are playing at by expanding into things like Google Office, they are making the right acquisitions in the mobile space and are in a good position to capitalize on this as it emerges alongside the now Microsoft owned TellMe though Google might need to focus on these winners and keep the blinders on things like Google Office, as I have mentioned before in order for Google to win they need to bring the fight to there competitors, out-innovating them at every opportunity while protecting both current and future revenue streams particularly in advertising.

Skype enters the Enterprise April 12, 2007

Posted by Daniel Gardner in Business Thoughts, Current Events, GigaOM, Internet, Skype, VoIP.
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Skype has spurred lots of peoples interest in Voice Over IP especially with making people aware that communication with a PC is not only functional, it is easy!

Now according to GigaOM Skype will be making it’s first move into the enterprise space, this is an exciting but not unexpected move in order to expand from there current consumer focussed customer base into the enterprise as well, the deciding factor on how well they will fare in this already populated space is how serious they are about servicing these new customers as the feature set required by businesses will be much more demanding such as active directory integration for address books and users, legacy gateway connectivity (SIP/PSTN) and a flexible API for integration with business applications.

I think Skype can execute on this though they need to get the features out and commit themselves, they have the funding, they already have the infrastructure (a marked advantage over many ‘hosted’ providers) and they already have an excellent software application all it boils down to is execution.

I will be watching this to see how it develops but I think this is just what the SMB market needs, especially companies with many satellite offices and telecommuters as companies can give these users the functionality they need without having to pay the exorbitant rates currently charged by companies to use there hosted solutions.