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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Google to Adjust Search Results Pages To Drive Product Sales this Holiday Season.

Just in Time for the Holiday Rush Google Will Boost Product Searches. This holiday season Google will roll out enhancements of Google Base that help shoppers refine search queries.

Google plans to extend the product search capabilities on its main Web search engine in the fourth quarter, in time for the holiday shopping season.

A Google official shared the news with attendees of the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance (PESA) Summit in San Francisco last week. When people search for products on, the system will present them with another search box so that they can refine their query. After people refine their query, Google will take them to a second page populated with product results from the Google Base listings service, Froogle listings and more.

"Keyword Ranking will be determined by the product attributes found in text nearest the product as well as by relevancy".

Currently, Google has no plans to monetize this product-search capability with display ads or additional Pay Per Click listing fees.

The plan also involves de-emphasizing Froogle as a destination Web site and moving its comparison-shopping capabilities to, because, as the Google official explained, most product searches happen on, according to the note. can already detect if someone is looking for real estate to buy, and asks users to refine their queries before delivering listings from Google Base. Thus, the plan outlined at the PESA conference would apparently be a significant extension of this existing feature toward multiple product categories.

Boosting Google Base
"Anything that improves product search and helps shoppers find what they want is always positive for merchants" said Jonathan Garriss, CEO of Gotham City Online, an apparel store on eBay that also has its own site.

From the beginning, Google has reported that Google Base is not a destination Web site, but instead a database that feeds information to Google search sites, like

A recent sign that Google was working on its product search was the removal of the link to Froogle on

"Everyone was surprised and Froogle's traffic immediately suffered.

Google has logically opted to present product listings via in a move to keep users on

"the comfort zone" for millions of internet users.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yahoo Warning of Slower Ad Growth In Some Categories, Rattling Investors.

From: Wall Street Journal

Yahoo Inc. executives warned online advertising growth appears to be slowing in some categories, prompting the Internet giant's shares to plunge more than 10% and triggering a broad selloff of technology stocks.

Yahoo has rattled investors with bad news several times this year.

Some market analysts said it made sense that online advertising should be subject to the same cyclical ups and downs as the traditional ad market, while others said Yahoo competitors -- such as Google -- might not be as affected.

Senior Yahoo executives report that like most advertising mediums search has seen growth weaken in ads from automotive and financial services companies in recent months and the future is too cloudy to project whether or not the advertising slowdown will spill over into other categorees.

Advertising from key categories are "still very meaningful, Chief Executive Terry Semel told investors at a Goldman Sachs conference. "They're still growing but they're not growing as quickly as we might have hoped at this point in time."

Yahoo, Google Inc. and others have thrived in recent years as advertisers have redirected advertising dollars to target consumers on the Web via search marketing and Pay Per Click keyword advertising. Spending on online ads has surged from $6 billion in 2002 to $12.5 billion last year and is on pace to set a new record this year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an industry group.

Shares of Yahoo tumbled on the news, dropping more than $3 dollars to $25 and change on the Nasdaq Stock Market Iwe remember when Yahoo split shares at the $280 range in the early days). The news weighed hard on Google as the search leader lost more than $10 dollars a share in today's trading.

The search advertising slowdown in the last two to four weeks, "is having an impact on our quarter," said Yahoo's Chief Financial Services Officer Susan Decker, and will likely lead Yahoo to "deliver in bottom half of the range" of its third-quarter estimates. In July, Yahoo expected third-quarter revenue to fall between $1.11 billion and $1.22 billion, excluding commissions paid to search marketing affiliate (spam) third party partners.

"Whether this is temporary, or whether this spills over into other keyword categories, we just don't know,'' Ms. Decker said. ``We're going to watch and wait.''

She cited "budget adjustments'' among advertisers in the auto and financial categories. Faced with shrinking market share and declining profit margins, General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group are in the midst of wrenching restructurings and have recently announced more production cuts and layoffs.

**True, however notice how Yahoo failed to mention Click Fraud, the recent click fraud settlement in the Checkmate case, and the oncoming Yahoo Panama search results page overhaul as Yahoo revises both paid and organic/natural search results in the coming weeks. Search advertisers are not fond of allocating huge budgets to suspect advertising vehicles filled with click fraud and also heistate to advertise on ever changing landscapes that create user confusion. Large PPC advertisers are freezing Yahoo spends and trying to determine the new return on investment that Pay Per Click advertising presents.

**Many large companies are also turning more towards organic/natural website optimization programs seeking keyword endorsements of their content and increased keyword ranking positions in the trusted and favored organic/natural search results.

As search adverttisers become more aware of the habits of searchers, one constant SEM reality continues to surface: searchers prefer organic listings 7 to 1 over paid.

Organic optimization also provides fixed costs with long-term benefits vs. the temporary keyword band-aids provided by frenzied Pay Per Click advertising campaigns.

Yahoo does remain one of the top Internet destinations, however it continues to lose search market share . In August, Yahoo claims to have handled more than 28% of U.S. Web searches, second only to Google, which according to Yahoo handled just over 44% of the search market, according to comScore Networks. Yet search advertisers are analyzing their server logs more often and more accurately and now realize that traffic to their websites from Yahoo is typically less than 20% of all traffic and Google represents closer to 70% of referrer traffic. This is causing search advertisers to shift more of the PPC budgets to Google. Also click fraud and recent click fraud lawsuits settlements and scandals are causing advertisers to tighten their PPC/SEM spending levels across the board.

Yahoo also brought user email to the Yahoo homepage in an effort to retain and convert more page views from Yahoo email account holder.

New studies demonstrate that some companies were relying too heavily on costly PPC advertisements that run alongside search results, and the PPC charges were increasing on an almost daily basis.

The cautious comments and recent onslaught of design changes are the latest setbacks for Yahoo investors, who have seen the stock fall about 35% so far in 2006. The company's shares plunged in January after Yahoo's fourth-quarter profit missed analysts' expectations. In July, the stock dropped another 22% in a single day after Yahoo delayed the release of much-anticipated improvements to its search advertisement systems.

On Tuesday, Ms. Decker, asked about Yahoo's expectations for the Yahoo project, known as "Yahoo Panama," again declined to offer any specific forecast, but did say, "We see significant upside to rolling out Panama sooner rather than later." The new Panama system, which is expected to be ready by the first quarter of 2007 in some circles by October 2006, lets Yahoo optimize ad placement based on numerous factors, including relevancy. It's current system ranks ads based on price alone. "We feel really good about what it can do," Ms. Decker said.

Look for Yahoo Panama rollouts in the coming days and weeks not months. Yahoo can no longer afford to wait as the debt load is running too high. Yahoo is in serious need of cash now as several recent interest rate increases have increased the debt load to near record highs.