Archive for the ‘General search’ Category

Monster Execs Launch ClickFuel for SMBs

November 7, 2009

Earlier this month a new soup-to-nuts SMB marketing company, ClickFuel, launched. The company has a relationship with Intuit and may get some promotion there through its App Center integration with QuickBooks. Beyond this — and though quite polished — they’re going to struggle like everybody else to be heard in the noisy and confusing world of online marketing. The company promises DIFM across a range of needs: “Web design and email marketing to PPC and SEO campaigns.”

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The Boston-based company, launched by former executives, is seeking to differentiate based on two factors: 1) a wide range of services and 2) human account support. Here’s the PR pitch I received: 

While myriad companies offer solutions, they aren’t focused on helping SMBs navigate the online marketing world. You either had to put blind faith in an expensive consultant- or take up valuable time to learn the ropes yourself. ClickFuel isn’t offering a do-it-yourself option. They have actual account staff that take time with the small business owner to personally set goals, explain strategy and then handle the execution. Most companies don’t integrate their online presence and execution with the kind of real human interaction you’d find with say, a consultant or offering like Hubspot. Despite being online-based, ClickFuel does.

They’ve built, specifically for small businesses, an online dashboard that allows the business owner to see actual analytics from their campaign, graphically, and explain complex terms and data in layman’s terms so there isn’t any confusion between what’s promised and what’s delivered- even for users who have never heard of terms like PPC or SEO. If they can access the internet- they’re up to date- but also have the option of talking to the account staff personally.

The mastermind behind this dashboard, Fuel Station, is Brian Farrey, former CTO at who has been named by ComputerWorld as one of the country’s Top 100 CIOs and by Infoworld as one of the Top 25 Most Influential CTOs. Brian and Steve envision leveraging the “Monster model” that took job search from the paper classifieds to online and transform SMB marketing from Yellow Page-type methods to online for SMBs.

While I’m sure this company has some solid talent behind it and also useful tools, the claims make it sound a bit like the RedBeacon of SMB online marketing: announcing itself as though there weren’t already a ton of similar companies that had come before or currently circling the segment. For example, this incomplete list is from an old slide deck (though some may be now be gone or out of the market):

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The timing may be ripe; the local market is now ripe for online marketing in a way it wasn’t two years ago. And the company may succeed — ReachLocal appears to be poised for its IPO filing which will get everybody very excited — but it will take time, visibility and the ability to build trust around a brand.


Social Search on Google Now Live

October 26, 2009

Danny Sullivan has a comprehensive write up of Google’s new social search and how it works at SEL. Below is the Google overview video that will provide a quick understanding:

Sergey Brin Web 2.0 Interview

October 26, 2009

One of John Battelle’s best interviews, among those that I saw, from the Web 2.0 event is his conversation with Sergey Brin. There are no revelations but it’s interesting and worth checking out:

Barry at SEL pulled out some quotes from the discussion.

Facebook and Bing: What’s Up?

October 20, 2009

My long-standing belief is that there’s a major opportunity for both Facebook and Microsoft in making Web search better on FB. Site search has recently gotten better on the social network but many people don’t even realize that Facebook offers Web search. I do notice that FB seems to be “federating” search results on a single page. For example, here’s the experience for the query sushi, san francisco” (my alternative to pizza):

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The three results at the bottom are Web results. You can click through to “all Web results”:

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At the top of the page above is “Find more Web results on,” which then leads to this:

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I suppose that the agreement between Microsoft and Facebook, pursuant to Redmond’s investment, probably gives Facebook total control over the “look and feel” of the presentation of results. That’s also true of the Yahoo!-Microsoft deal so it would make sense. Yet the Bing results are much more compelling than the FB presentation of them. If FB could integrate some of the Bing experience into its own look and feel it would probably see search volumes (and paid clicks) go up. Promoting the fact of Web search on FB wouldn’t hurt either. My guess, however, is that there’s some ambivalence at FB about promoting Bing on the site.

What about you? What might cause you to start using FB for Web search (if anything)?

Bing 2: ‘Visual Search’ Launches

September 14, 2009

At the TechCrunch event Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi demonstrated (see video) some new features of what’s informally being called Bing 2.0. Not all the new features launched today (there’s some interesting local stuff coming). What he did demo was “visual search,” which is built on Microsoft Silverlight.

SEL has a pretty complete overview of visual search and how it works. You can also read about it on the Bing blog post. Visual search doesn’t work for every query — and isn’t suited to every query — but it’s an interesting and promising alternative to conventional queries in the search box in some cases.

Here’s the visual search “homepage” reflecting the available categories:

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Drilling down into “shopping“:

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Now further into “iPhone apps

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And even further into “social networking” iPhone apps:

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Microsoft has had great image search since before Bing (BB) and “visual search” is impressive and has a new and fresh feel, even though it’s not the first image-based search.

But will you use it? My mom will ’cause she prefers Bing. Test it out and let me know your thoughts.

Is There a ‘Plan B’ for Yahoo! Search?

September 13, 2009

Picture 59I’ve been writing and talking to various people about the Microsoft-Yahoo! outsourcing deal in search. My operating assumption is that the deal will ultimately be approved by regulators, but it isn’t a slam dunk. A similar, and less expansive, deal was not approved between Google and Yahoo! last year. One could argue in responses that Microsoft and Yahoo! are in very different positions  in the search market and that’s a material difference.

There’s also not been a widespread outcry from advertisers objecting to the MicroHoo search combination as “monopolistic,” as there was in the case of Google-Yahoo! (partly that was the result of lobbying behind the scenes). But what if regulators don’t allow MicroHoo to go through in the end because of the same concerns about market and pricing competition?

This scenario prompts Danny Sullivan to ask What’s Yahoo’s “Plan B” For Search?

It’s not clear the company has one. It continues to say that it will invest in search in terms of the user experience and interface. But the plan between Redmond and Sunnyvale sees many of Yahoo!’s remaining search engineers shifting to Microsoft; many have already left on their own to go elsewhere or been hired by Microsoft independently.

One of the reasons that Yahoo! did the deal with Microsoft, beyond investor pressure, is that it simply saw the back end of search and related R&D as being too expensive to maintain. But there is a chance that it will be forced to answer the question “What now?” if the US DOJ or the Europeans step in to block the deal or ask for significant modifications.

Investors didn’t “get” or like the MicroHoo deal very much (at least initially) because there was no obvious gain on Yahoo!’s part: no “lump sum” cash payment and so on. Microsoft appeared to the market to be the big winner. I continue to believe that the MicroHoo deal will happen but it’s worth asking what if it doesn’t?  For one thing, if it didn’t, you’d see investors punish Yahoo! shares (much more than they would Microsoft’s).

What about you? What do you think will happen and what would you do if you were Yahoo! and the Microsoft deal were blocked?


Related: Kara Swisher at AllThingsD reports on a forthcoming and “massive” new ad campaign from Yahoo! around the theme “your home on the Web.” If that’s correct I think it’s not a bad concept: trusted brand, starting point, organizing tools, etc.

Yahoo! Upgrades Local Shortcut

July 31, 2009

Yesterday Yahoo! announced an upgrade to the local Shortcut that enables greater discovery and interaction around local listings content in Yahoo! search results. Here’s an example search for a San Francisco restaurant, Salt House:

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Each of the links at the bottom of the listing opens a window that provides more information: reviews, images, directions:

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A couple of emails that I saw yesterday asked why are they bothering after the Micro-Hoo announcement? But this is precisely the kind of thing that Yahoo! is talking about when discussing innovation around the UI and user experience. Hopefully the Microsoft deal will free and embolden Yahoo! to experiment more and create more useful experiences/tools such as this.

There’s a question that remains in my mind about how much effort Yahoo! will put into Local (as in Yahoo! Local) going forward. It was the leading local property for quite some time until Yahoo! started losing people and the site was put on maintenance mode. An analogy might be: a great house that has has been neglected and needs some TLC.

As an aside, somewhat buried in the post, Yahoo! says “About 20 percent of online searches have a local intent.” I would again argue with this figure as too low but it’s significant because comScore’s number has been 12%-13% of search is local.

More Micro-Hoo & Will Yahoo! Truly ‘Innovate’?

July 30, 2009

If you’re still hungry for coverage of the Microsoft-Yahoo! search deal you can read Danny Sullivan’s long and almost exhaustive Q&A style article on SEL. He touches on most questions and issues there. There’s also a roundup of other coverage in the piece. He humorously calls what Yahoo! will be doing now “search styling” — referring to the UX/UI makeover that Yahoo! will layer on top of the Bing index and organic/paid results.

The conventional wisdom (including from me) is now emerging that Microsoft got the better deal and that Yahoo! has sacrificed a strategic asset. But I was thinking last night, what if Yahoo! really executes well and is able to make this work as they’re publicly saying? What if the UI layer that Yahoo! puts on top of Bing really does make for a better experience than what Yahoo! Search is offering now?

Many months ago, I downloaded the Inquisitor browser plug in, acquired by Yahoo!, and used it for a time. It shows only Yahoo! search results. So as an experiment I tested it out for about a month and primarily used Yahoo! as my search engine:

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While like many of the features of Yahoo! Search, in my experience using it as my primary engine, it wasn’t as good as Google — the results weren’t as complete or relevant. It was good but not as good. Comparable to the Android vs. iPhone experience.

This leads me to think that with a better underlying index maybe Yahoo! can really make good on the promise of all the UX and interface inititatives they’ve been talking about in search. Maybe they’ll truly be able to “innovate” around the search user experience and come up with some great features and capabilities. I’m hoping that’s true and that we will see more “innovation,” as promised yesterday by everyone.

The problem and pushback to this is that Yahoo! may lose more key people. One of the contributing reasons motivating a search deal with Microsoft is the fact that Yahoo! has already suffered a massive search brain drain with defections to Microsoft, Google and elsewhere. Yesterday CEO Carol Bartz said the following about Yahoo! Search employees in response to a question about layoffs and redundancy:

TIM WEBER (BBC): I’ve got a question, does it have any impact on jobs? Do you envisage that people working on search at Yahoo! move to Microsoft, work for Microsoft or will the Microsoft teams take care of all that and Yahoo! will then see redundancies in its teams?

CAROL BARTZ: I’ll take that one. There’s actually three variables here. Yes, there are certainly many Yahoo! search employees that will be asked to take jobs at Microsoft as they integrate the technology and combine the search market, and frankly run a very good search market. So, there will be that bucket of employees, if you will. There will also be search employees that we look to, to help us on the display side of our business, another aspect of globalizing our audience products in Yahoo! And then unfortunately there will be some redundancies in Yahoo!, so that’s the third bucket.

What I would remind you though is that this is a transition over the next two and a half years. So, virtually nothing will change for the first — well, until we get regulatory approval, which we hope is in early 2010. And then after that it’s on the outside 24 months for transition. Hopefully together we can do it faster, because we’re all anxious to get this going. But yes there will be redundancies; it just is in the future.

So if Yahoo! is really not going to fall completely into “also-ran” status in search, they’ll have to retain good people who can do the job and provide a differentiated experience from what exists at Google and Bing. If not, they’ll turn into AOL or Ask, companies that once had vibrant search efforts and essentially gave up, shifting into maintenance mode.

Micro-Hoo: Thoughts Part 2

July 29, 2009

The deal’s big winner is Microsoft, which makes no upfront cash payment and gets Yahoo!’s reach now for its advertisers. Yahoo! wasn’t compelled to do this deal but perhaps the board and the market pressure was too much.

Yahoo! gets some revenue guarantees, access to search data (for BT on other properties) and doesn’t have to invest many resources in search going forward. Longer term, however, this is probably not a good deal for Yahoo! but we’ll see.

Stock is down right now:

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There are lots of open questions:

  • What happens to SearchMonkey and similar initiatives, etc.?
  • Microsoft and Yahoo! have said they’re still competitors. How will that affect the execution of this deal?
  • How does this affect Yahoo!’s newspaper relationships?
  • What happens to specialized vertical search on Yahoo! properties: Local/Maps, News, Real Estate, etc.?
  • How will the anti-trust arguments play out? In my mind there are legitimate anti-trust arguments to be made but they’re unlikely to succeed. EU scrutiny will be tougher than US.
  • What happens in 10 years when the deal is up?

Your thoughts?

New Twitter Homepage Looks Like Search

July 29, 2009

Twitter has relaunched its homepage. It only gets seen by people who haven’t got an account. But it looks a lot more like a search engine now:

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Here’s the rationale for the new look:

Defining a “tweet” for the uninitiated and explaining how to create an account doesn’t resonate with everyone. “Why would I want to do that?” is a common reaction. However, demonstrating the power of Twitter as a discovery engine for what is happening right now through our Search and Trends often awakens a sense of wonder which inevitably leads to a much more compelling question, “How do I get involved?”

Google OS Makes Sense, Creates Problems

July 8, 2009

Picture 4Google Apps, Google browser, Android . . . Chrome OS. As most of you know by now, Google announced a full-blown operating system for netbooks and PCs:

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve . . .

Google Chrome OS is a new project, separate from Android. Android was designed from the beginning to work across a variety of devices from phones to set-top boxes to netbooks. Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the web, and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems. While there are areas where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, we believe choice will drive innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google.

Quick thoughts:

  • Until people see and evaluate the OS no real assessments can be made of its prospects but Android suggests it will be solid and viable
  • Accordingly this potentially gives MSFT a real run for its money (literally) in the netbook segment — the only healthy segment of the PC market. Could also eventually go “upstream” and challenge on laptops/PCs but that’s farther off and much more speculative.
  • Google now is almost a complete alternative to MSFT (OS, apps, mobile, browser)
  • Open source code (like Android) means that netbook OEMs will probably use Chrome to boost margins (if only a very little)
  • The move is logical because Chrome (the browser) was a kind of OS or platform for developers and apps development. Android is an OS but perhaps not technically “robust” enough for netbooks and certainly not full PCs
  • Chrome the OS will be deeply integrated with the browser experience and try to create a more seamless online-PC experience. Google made much of HTML 5 in the browser and what it could do — not quite enough it would seem, however.
  • Apple and Google are now true competitors across a broader range of fronts. Google is very much like Microsoft now in many respects. It’s only a matter of time before Google CEO Eric Schmidt will be compelled by investors or regulators to depart the Apple board (the DOJ is looking into the two common Apple, Google directors)
  • Even though there’s nothing explicitly anti-competitive here — in fact it makes the OS market more competitive — Google makes its position potentially more difficult with regulators simply because the company spans several key market segments and is using their integration to maintain leadership (though not illegally) in search online and extend it to mobile

You can read the scores of posts on Techmeme.


Agree with Henry Blodget’s remark about Chrome:

If Google wants to succeed in its boldest product launch to date, the Chrome OS, the company needs to focus on its success with the same intensity it once dedicated to search.

If it doesn’t, Chrome OS will end up just like Chrome: yet another irrelevant skunkworks project used by a handful of digerati and Microsoft-haters and ignored by everyone else.

Not sure that the criticism of Chrome the browser is fair yet. But Google’s “if we build it they will come” attitude more often than not has lead to products falling short of their potential. But Android success suggests that if Chrome the OS is good OEMs will use it.

Bing vs. Google Round 5

July 7, 2009

Picture 27From Citigroup’s Mark Mahaney this morning:

We Conducted Our Own Proprietary Study of Comparative Search Results – We three-screen tested 200 of the most popular current Search queries using Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.

  1. We found Google with either the most relevant results or tied for top relevancy 71% (142 Searches) of the time.
  2. We found Bing with either the most relevant results or tied for top relevancy 46% (92 Searches) of the time.
  3. And we found Yahoo! with either the most relevant results or tied for top relevancy 30% (59 Searches) of the time.

(emphasis added)

We view our study as generally validating the positive Bing reviews . . . but also demonstrating Google’s very strong position.

In Terms Of Stock Takeaways… – We find these datapoints incrementally positive for MSFT, incrementally negative for YHOO (although strategic options provide a bit of a hedge here and Street estimates appear to already assume Search market share erosion for YHOO), and generally neutral for GOOG.

In my initial discussion of Bing and Google on SEL the day Bing launched I said:

Some may look at the screens above and shrug. Indeed, some people have argued to me that Bing “has to be at least 50 percent better” than Google to start peeling away users loyal to Google (or Yahoo). Bing isn’t 50 percent better than Google. However, Bing does offer results that are, across the searches I conducted, highly competitive with Google and in some cases it offers features that are more user-friendly.

Given the strength of Google’s brand and its “ownership” of search Bing may struggle to make market share gains. However I predict that it will gain share. Those potential gains may come not at Google’s expense but rather from Ask, AOL or even Yahoo.

MJ Death Shows Offline Media Drive Search

June 26, 2009

I posted a stat the other week related to me by a Google exec casually in a meeting (not sure the original source): 2/3 of search was driven by traditional media and offline influences or activity. While that makes lots of sense it’s counter-intuitive for people who work in the Internet and often deny the relevance of traditional/offline media.

The query “Michael Jackson” is a great example of this interaction between events, word of mouth, news coverage and search. No doubt lots of people found out about it from online news, but most probably heard about his death from friends, TV or radio — and then went online to learn more. The news was also a big driver of mobile search volumes as well. According to the Google Blog:

Search volume began to increase around 2:00pm, skyrocketed by 3:00pm, and stabilized by about 8:00pm. As you can see in Google Hot Trends, many of the fastest rising search queries from yesterday and today have been about Michael Jackson’s passing (others pertained to the death of another cultural icon, Farrah Fawcett). People who weren’t near a computer yesterday turned to their mobile phones to check on breaking news. We saw one of the largest mobile search spikes we’ve ever seen, with 5 of the top 20 searches about the Moonwalker.

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Google Mistakes Image for Video in My Post

June 26, 2009

Someone pinged me on this search result and asked if it was the result of an SEO trick that I had done:

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This was a pick up of my recent BookFresh post. Google thinks the picture in the post is a video (for some reason). It’s not.

Any thoughts/explanations?

ShopLocal Now a Search Agency (Sort Of)

June 24, 2009

ShopLocal has built a very interesting product that creates search ads dynamically on behalf of retail clients. However these adds have rich, specific copy and corresponding landing pages that reference local stores and deals. According to SL, the “SmartSearch product allows for fully automated, localized search engine marketing (SEM) on both Google & Yahoo!.”

Here are examples (this is all courtesy of the SL blog) on Google and Yahoo!:

The query here is “women’s apparel”:

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The ad copy can get even more specific, but the point is that the JCPenney ad is the one that “pops” in the Yahoo! example. It’s also true to a somewhat lesser degree in the Google example. Both ads are going to click through to specific landing pages that are also dynamically generated and correspond to the keywords or items being searched (the  one below corresponds to the “women’s apparel” query in the top Google ad):

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ShopLocal is also working with Yahoo! on display advertising across the Yahoo! network that leverages the latter’s SmartAds platform for dynamic creative tied to targeting parameters.

Google to Show ‘Product Ads’ (Local Inventory?)

June 20, 2009

Picture 3Google is testing a new type of “product ad” that will appear in results. Here’s an overview from the WSJ, Google Blogoscoped and SEL. As the Journal describes them:

Unlike text ads, product ads will “feature product specific information directly in the ad such as price and product image,” according to the email Google sent some advertisers inviting them to try out the ads this week. Google said that it would continue to work on the most effective format for the ads and that the ads would “complement standard text ads on” . . .

With the new ads, Google is mixing up its pricing model as well. Unlike Google’s standard search ads, where advertisers generally pay every time users click on their ads, Google will charge advertisers for product ads only when a user makes a purchase. Advertisers set the commission they are willing to pay, and Google decides which products ads to display based on the commission, how well the ad matches a query, and how often people click on the ads, among other things.

The pricing then is CPA (based on a purchase or perhaps other definition of “conversion”) and the submission process involves Google Base. In the same way that Android Market’s requirement that consumers use Google Checkout to buy paid apps, this program potentially gives new vitality to a service that has underperformed for Google: Google Base.

Google has experimented with display, video and product images in ads in search results in the past. So this isn’t as much of a departure as it might appear out of context. The CPA pricing is interesting and perhaps designed to generate more participation and enthusiasm from e-commerce sellers. (The WSJ speculates that “product ads” are partly a response to Bing and the “cashback” program.)

The question I have is will local inventory data from Krillion, NearbyNow or others be included? If so that would make the CPA billing problematic unless conversions can be defined in more than one way here. But consumers would certainly respond to the program.

As you may recall Google had “local shopping” in Maps early on, allowing users to find products in their area by filtering search results with a check box. The data then came from StepUp and ShopLocal. StepUp is now part of Intuit. The program was discontinued as far as I know. But now with more inventory data available others (e.g., TheFind and YP publishers) are offering it. Google can’t/shouldn’t be far behind.

Here’s some additional information from MediaPost.

comScore: Bing Continuing to Grow

June 17, 2009

Picture 6comScore just put out some new numbers showing that Bing is holding and growing. Take it with caution but here are the numbers (without context):

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MerchantCircle Crosses to the Consumer Side

June 16, 2009

Picture 1There are many people who may never forgive MerchantCircle for its early “robocalling” customer acquisition strategy. I’m told by the company that’s not happening any longer. But let’s put that issue aside for the time being because MerchantCircle is doing some really interesting things that are worth discussing.

As background for the rest of this post, I was recently told by Darren Waddell, MerchantCircle’s marketing VP, that the company now has 750K small businesses that have claimed a listing or are engaged with the site’s services to some degree (this is obviously not an advertiser number). He said that “member” number would be over one million before the end of the year.

While many of these merchants aren’t doing a great deal on the site (or may have shown up only once), there are many thousands of SMBs that are very actively using it to market themselves. And that’s turning into spontaneous Twitter recommendations in some cases:

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Another impressive statistic: Waddell said “We’re driving 35 million page views, 17 million uniques per month of local traffic.” All of this is coming through SEO/search traffic.

As a result of this traffic the site is making a fair amount of money off ads that are getting very attractive CPMs vs. the rest of the market. All the SEO-based traffic the company is receiving has, according to Waddell, brought its customer acquisition cost down to nearly zero.

There is a range of advertising products that the company is selling to SMBs, from fixed fee to performance-based PPCall and PPC (WebVisible is a partner). According to Waddell, while there are several ad programs and products, there’s an overall emphasis on simplicity and low cost. Most services utilized by merchants are free.

Now, in order to enhance the value proposition for SMBs, MerchantCircle quietly expanded into consumer content. The new program is called “Neighbors” and it offers consumer-users a profile and personal “dashboard” where they can connect with one another, collect coupons, track merchants, generate favorite lists and reviews.

The following image is a screenshot of a community page from MerchantCircle’s Tulsa OK site:

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Here’s an image of the consumer dashboard:

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The dashboard enables the consumer-user to track (tabs across the top):

  • Coupons (I’ve collected from various merchants)
  • My reviews
  • Merchants I’m following (more on that in a moment)
  • Lists I’ve created and my “friends” (on MC). Here’s a snapshot of new lists created by consumers in San Francisco:

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On to following; users can “follow” merchants in the same way that one has Twitter followers. Note the follow link under the phone number in the profile below:

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After I click to follow, I’m connected to that business and it can directly communicate with me:

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In much the same way that MerchantCircle has sought to create a social network of merchants, it has now begun that same work on the consumer side. But the object here is not so much to link consumers to one another as generate more interaction between consumers and merchants and stimulate demand, further activity and content creation. The content and pages populated by consumer-users in turn become more fodder for Google and SEO as well. The company appears to have hit some sort of inflection point with traffic from SEO.

Currently the way that MerchantCircle prompts consumers to join the Neighbors program is through the reviews process. When consumers land on a page via organic search results, some number of those users wind up writing a review of a local business on one of MerchantCircle’s merchant pages. Those review writers are then targeted by MerchantCircle for the Neighbors program:

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MerchantCircle is also part of Facebook Connect. And if users log in with their Facebook username and password, their actions and activities on MerchantCircle are broadcast back to through their news feeds on Facebook.

If MerchantCircle is successful in getting consumers to join, create reviews, clip coupons and follow businesses, it will build considerable additional value for its merchants at no cost to itself. Waddell says that the SMBs active with MerchantCircle (mostly in smaller markets) and consumers may not line up 1:1 at the start. But given that MerchantCircle is making money and has been so successful getting SMBs to join, at the rate of 20K per month, it can afford to take the long view.

Travel Best Among Bing’s Four Verticals

June 12, 2009

Embedded in Microsoft’s Bing strategy are four key verticals: Local, Shopping, Health and Travel. Beyond local itself, the other three have strong local elements or dimensions (explicit and implicit). However I would argue of the four Travel (Farecast) is the strongest and most differentiated.

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After that I would argue the order goes: Shopping, Health and Local. Bing Maps is very strong but I think the local offering needs more work and differentiation.

In my opinion, Bing Travel may be less of a threat to Google than to Kayak or other travel sites.

Demographically Targeted Search Engine Done

June 11, 2009

When it launched I thought the IAC-owned RushmoreDrive was an interesting experiment: a search engine targeting African Americans. This concept could be expanded to gay people, Hispanics, Asians, and so on.

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Apparently the engine is shutting down. So I guess it didn’t work (or have enough visibility to continue justifying its costs).

Jim Lanzone, former Ask CEO, told me at the time that he thought the premise was flawed and that it would be nearly impossible to execute well. But as a marketing concept I thought it was interesting. Given the failure of the site it will probably be some time before a similar experiment is tried again.