Archive for the ‘Toolbars’ Category

Palore Gaining Adoption

August 6, 2007

I wrote about Palore before . . . but got an email recently from the CEO Hanan Lifshitz saying that the company is now working with numerous local sites and IYPs and the company has raised an A round. Should be very interesting to see what comes out of it.

Alexa Slammed

March 5, 2007

Alexa.com

It’s not like people don’t know the data are flawed, but Search Engine Watch’s Kevin Newcomb posts on an analysis done by Google’s research director Peter Norvig that seeks to undermine any claim to accuracy.

Loki: Local ‘Metasearch’

November 15, 2006

Loki is a toolbar/technology from Skyhook Wireless that, once downloaded, uses WiFi triangulation to determine user location and saves the step of having to enter it on visited websites. It has very interesting local search uses and implications (for those who partner). For example:

Beyond making local search more usable, the most interesting implication of Loki is what Ted Morgan, CEO of Skyhook Wireless, calls “location pull.” For example, if a retailer like Target tapped into this technology (assuming it’s installed on a user’s device) then, reading user location, Target could automatically offer a locally customized version of its site for that individual, including deals, the weekly circular, etc. Online newspapers, rather than asking for registrations, could offer a “national” or a “local” version of their sites accordingly. And clearly search engine (and potentially display) advertising would benefit from the greater location precision.

Check out my slightly longer write-up at Search Engine Watch. Here’s my original post on Loki when it launched in April.

I forget whether Skyhook is offering to private-label Loki (or distribute the technology; they have an API). Assuming yes, I would imagine that every local search engine/vendor would be all over Loki to embed the location-sensing technology in their toolbars or build a white-label version for themselves.

Yahoo! Upgrades Toolbar

October 25, 2006

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Chris Sherman has the full scoop at Search Engine Watch.

According to August 2006 data from comScore, “Google and Yahoo! continued their dominance in toolbar searches, combining for more than 95 percent of the market share in August. Google grabbed 49.6 percent of toolbar searches, while Yahoo! captured 47.3 percent.”

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Related: Here’s more from Michael Arrington at TechCrunch.

Google Toolbar Helping Turn Homepage into ‘My Google’

April 7, 2006

The Google (RSS) Reader, which I like, has met with mixed reviews and limited adoption (so far). Far more successful as a personalized home page and RSS reader is MyYahoo. (My belief, however, is that Yahoo! has yet to fully leverage the potential of MyYahoo!.)

Google’s IE Toolbar has the capacity to be an RSS reader (via buttons) and Google’s Personalized Homepage (GPH) and Sidebar also have RSS capabilities. However, the new Firefox toolbar offers something really interesting. Among other things, there’s an RSS feed subscription button. So when a user is on a blog or site that offers a feed, that button is highlighted and offers the option to receive the feed. The pull-down menu from the button offers a choice of feed readers, but the default choice is the Google Homepage. (If you don’t have an account, it will prompt you to establish one.)

The feeds then appear on the GPH. The point here is that it’s very simple to add feeds and manipulate their placement on the page (thanks to Ajax, which MyYahoo offers as well). This fact, plus a growing library of content feeds is starting to make Google’s PH a more viable rival to MyYahoo! There are still a number of features and capabilities that MyYahoo! has that Google does not have, like calendaring and subsequent pages. But Google is bringing together its toolbar, desktop search, search history and PH in ways that make them work very nicely together and may create an “invisible walled garden” that de facto locks people in to their use.

Skyhook Wireless Offers Loki Local Toolbar

March 23, 2006

If you want to see something pretty cool, go to Loki.com and download Shyhook Wireless’ new Local Search toolbar. It’s the first toolbar built around Local and it’s got a bunch of really useful features:

  • It can automatically locate your position so you don’t need to enter it when doing a search (you can change locations too)
  • It’s got lots of local content “channels” (bookmarks) to quickly navigate to local news, shopping, mapping, restaurants, movies, wi-fi hotspots, traffic, etc. And those content channels can be personalized and expanded by users
  • You can set a preferred mapping provider so any lookups send you to either Yahoo!, Google, Ask or A9 maps.
  • Through an email button you can share your location with others

Loki offers a kind of metasearch for local. I haven’t fully explored all it’s capabilities, but it’s the first new toolbar in a long while that justifies its existence. Certain of the features are “power user” tools but that doesn’t deprive it of being valuable to consumers generally.

Approximately 12% of Web search (according to comScore) happens through a toolbar. Everyone expects that number to grow over time.

Google Adds Personalization to Toolbar Upgrade

January 30, 2006

Google went live tonight with version 4 of its toolbar for IE (Firefox version coming soon I’m told). You can take a look at the laundry list of features and upgrades here.

Worth noting from my point of view are the following:

  • Bookmarks (the ability to add any page or custom search to the toolbar; it’s the return of bookmarks to a degree)
  • Custom buttons (Google has created a bunch of custom buttons and an API to allow third parties to create them [a la “widgets”])
  • Send to (ability to share Web sites through email, SMS or publish on blogger). Yahoo! currently offers a comparable feature
  • Account sign-in (from the toolbar; creates another incentive to sign up for an account/Gmail)

Google also enables users to put Local, Froogle, Image Search, Video, News and Gmail (as mentioned) into the toolbar. Will this impact usage of these services? It could well boost their visibility and, ultimately, their usage.

For example, I rarely use Froogle (except when I’m comparing it to other services for my work). But with the button always there, it’s very easy to click over and use Froogle to do a quick product search, etc. No need to go to Shopzilla or Shopping.com or eBay for these sorts of casual lookups. Just click the button and execute the search. (It removes a step.) Same thing for local: click the button, do the search; it’s more “elegant” than conducting a local search on Google.com and clicking the compass icon after the fact.

The previously much criticized “Autolink” feature does some interesting things with Local, displaying all the addresses that appear on a map (e.g., “wine shops, Oakland, CA”‘) as a pull-down menu. That enables the user to quickly select a location if s/he knows it (“I want the one on Main,” etc.).

Google has a new marketing (and to some degree branding) vehicle to build awareness for these various services (Local, Video, Froogle) through their (opt-in) presence on the toolbar. And the Google Pack “Updater” will notify users of changes and updates, etc. How about a Google Music or Google Travel button in the future?

We previously wrote about toolbars (in an ILM Client Advisory) as a driver of search market share and how they will become more strategic over time. Yahoo had the greatest toolbar share according to comScore (July ’05: 51 percent of all toolbar searches). About 12 percent of all US searches were executed through toolbars in July, an 8 percent increase over 2004, according to comScore.

I’m sure I haven’t captured all the tricks the new toolbar can and will be able to do. But the thing that is most intriguing to me is the way in which the toolbar can house alerts/dynamic searches and could potentially become an RSS reader.

Third parties can create buttons (think blogs: “add to Google Toolbar”‘) or users can effectively plug feeds into the bookmarks feature. Therefore it’s possible to use the toolbar for all your feeds — something which the “ordinary user” won’t think about or discover in the near term.

But what that “ordinary” person might well do is set up a Google Alert for some term (e.g., “Kelsey Group”) and plug that dynamic search result into his/her bookmarks. This is something that A9 now permits.

Imagine third parties creating buttons or feeds (as more sites are doing) for specials/deals/offers that can become buttons or persistent searches in the toolbar. It creates some very interesting possibilities.

Despite the 1,000,001 toolbars out there Google and Yahoo! are the dominant toolbars in terms of market share. They each offered somewhat different features and were thus complementary. Among a couple of other things, one of the advantages of the Yahoo! toolbar over Google’s (until now) was the custom buttons (Yahoo! gave you two). The new Google toolbar offers almost unlimited customization possibilities through buttons and bookmarks.

Yahoo!’s toolbar also has “anti-spy,” a feature that the new Google toolbar doesn’t offer (which I use to delete tracking cookies every day). Indeed, Google hasn’t duplicated all the features on the Yahoo! toolbar, but it has eliminated the “customization gap” that existed, and created a broader range of potential personalization opportunities.

In addition, the Google toolbar ties in to Google’s personalized homepage (for those registered and signed in) and to your “search history.” In this way we start to see how the “Fusion” strategy might start to knit together some of these disparate elements (personalized home, sidebar, desktop search, toolbar).

Google right now has a “many doors” approach, in that users can access Google and search through any number of tools and utilities (personalized home, Sidebar, toolbar, desktop search, etc.). Over time it will start to be clear to Google how users are predominantly tapping into its features and services and the company will place emphasis accordingly.

Toolbars have been important but we expect that over time they will become even more strategic. Yahoo! will not likely leave this development unanswered (at the very least I’d anticipate more custom buttons to be introduced).

So expect more competition and increasing levels of functionality on the “toolbar front” in the future.