Saturday, June 30, 2007
Everyone knows that business cycles oscillate from boom to bust every so many years, and real estate is not unique in this regard. Stock prices reflect these trends. Anyone who has looked at a home builder stock in the past couple years is intimately aware of this connection. But what does it mean to say that an industry, as opposed to a stock, is experiencing a downturn? It's not just a matter of saying "real estate stocks are down" -- it's more that they're down, in a roughly correlated manner, over a meaningful common time period.
Let me show you what I'm talking about. Here are 3 major homebuilders -- Centex, Lennar, and Ryland -- in the same graph:
Let me take a moment to explain how I generated this chart, so that you can do your own analysis of stock trends in real estate (or any other industry). Go to Google Finance. Type in the first symbol, CTX (Centex). Hit Enter. You should see a chart for Centex. Use the time window below the chart to change the view to January 2005 through June 2007. (You might have to zoom out more than once.) Now, hit the"Compare" button to the upper left of the chart. Check the boxes for LEN (Lennar)and RYL (Ryland). A short moment later, you should see essentially the same chart that I gave you above. You might have slight differences due to different start and end dates.
Notice that you never asked for LEN or RYL. Google Finance just knew that they were related companies. This works very well in most cases. Type in C (Citigroup), for example, and you'll get other large financial companies from "Compare". How do we know which companies are related to which other ones? Ah, but that's the secret sauce!
So back to the vague term "industry downturn". As you can see in the chart above, all of these stocks are down roughly 35% since the start of 2005. And it should be visually clear to you that they rose, then declined, in roughly the same manner, with RYL being the most volatile of the group.
Has this ever happened before? Sure it has. In the last major real estate stock decline, you can see an eerily similar pattern:
Here, January 2005 has been replaced by January 1989, and June 2007 has been replaced by June 1991. Again, CTX was the most volatile of the group, and again the ups and downs of all 3 major players roughly traced one another. The group as a whole appears to have peaked in August 1989 (although to know for sure we need to adjust for market cap). It then seems to have bottomed in October 1990.
In the first chart, you can see that the group appears to have peaked again in July 2005. So, if we learn from history, it should have bottomed in around September 2006. Indeed, this isn't far off from the real bottom, up to that point, which occurred in July 2006. Unfortunately, as we all now know, that wasn't the bottom...
Of course, comparisons such as this do not make a complete investment analysis, but they can often provide suggestions for further research involving other financial metrics.
I don't own any of the stocks I discussed, and while it's not my business to advise you what to buy or sell, I do hope I've shown you a new and cool way of analyzing related businesses.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Of all web analytics metrics, Bounce Rate is perhaps the most universally applicable. Why? Because, unlike the widely-quoted Conversion Rate metric, Bounce Rate doesn't require you to have defined conversion goals. This means you can use it to understand how well virtually any kind of site performs from a marketing standpoint.
If your site conversion rates are low, Bounce Rate can help you understand why. If your Bounce Rates are also low, your troubles are likely due to site design and usability issues. In this case, you might focus your efforts on streamlining your conversion funnel or making your site easier to navigate. But if your Bounce Rates are high, you can focus your efforts on redesigning entrance (landing pages), improving the quality of traffic to your site, and doing a better job of pairing landing pages with ads.
Our own Avinash Kaushik has just written an excellent article on Bounce Rates in MarketingProfs: Daily Fix. It's appropriately titled Bounce Rate: Sexiest Web Metric Ever?
Posted by Alden DeSoto, Google Analytics Team
| Posted by Lauren Turner, Account Planner, Health|
Lights, camera, action: the healthcare industry is back in the spotlight. (Not that it ever left the stage.) Next week, Michael Moore's documentary film, Sicko, will start playing in movie theaters across America.
The New York Times calls Sicko a "cinematic indictment of the American health care system." The film is generating significant buzz and is sure to spur a lively conversation about health coverage, care, and quality in America. While legislators, litigators, and patient groups are growing excited, others among us are growing anxious. And why wouldn't they? Moore attacks health insurers, health providers, and pharmaceutical companies by connecting them to isolated and emotional stories of the system at its worst. Moore's film portrays the industry as money and marketing driven, and fails to show healthcare's interest in patient well-being and care.
Sound familiar? Of course. The healthcare industry is no stranger to negative press. A drug may be a blockbuster one day and tolled as a public health concern the next. News reporters may focus on Pharma's annual sales and its executives' salaries while failing to share R&D; costs. Or, as is often common, the media may use an isolated, heartbreaking, or sensationalist story to paint a picture of healthcare as a whole. With all the coverage, it's a shame no one focuses on the industry's numerous prescription programs, charity services, and philanthropy efforts.
Many of our clients face these issues; companies come to us hoping we can help them better manage their reputations through "Get the Facts" or issue management campaigns. Your brand or corporate site may already have these informational assets, but can users easily find them?
We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message. We help you connect your company's assets while helping users find the information they seek.
If you're interested in learning more about issue management campaigns or about how we can help your company better connect its assets online, email us. We'd love to hear from you! Setting up these campaigns is easy and we're happy to share best practices.
As for Sicko, all I can say is -- go easy on that buttered popcorn.
| Posted by Neha Patel, Industry Marketing Manager, Health|
Online video is hot -- so hot it's becoming mainstream. According to comScore Video Metrix, every month, Americans stream 7 billion videos online, and 70 percent of U.S. Internet users viewing online video. Also over a month, YouTube reaches 40 million unique visitors (Neilson/Netratings May 2007). But are people watching online video ads?
The Online Publishers Association conducted a study to understand what drives video advertising success. After exposing consumers to video content and advertising, the study found that online video advertising leads to results: of the 80 percent of viewers who have watched an online video ad, 52 percent have taken some sort of action, including checking out a website (31 percent) or searching for more info (22 percent). Ad length was also a leading factor driving brand lift, with 30 second ads outpacing 15s in relevance and brand consideration.
So what does this mean? Try turning your TV spots into video ads! Take what's on the cutting room floor for your 60 second spot and run it on YouTube. Check out this video for restless leg syndrome on YouTube. There's more that you can do with video content, in other words.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
If you like to customize your iGoogle page, you'll love these two new gadgets. The interactive chart and sector summary gadgets reflect two of our most popular features on Google Finance. We're pleased to now offer them on iGoogle.
Click on the screenshots below to read more about the gadgets and to add them to your page:
There'll be more finance gadgets to come. Meanwhile, if there's something you really want made into a gadget, please let us know in the comments section!
Most people aren't aware that Google Desktop has a simple, but powerful, AppleScript interface. You can use this interface to write scripts that search with Google Desktop. The most basic script allows you to quickly search for some text:
tell application "Google Desktop"
search for "happy"
tell application "Google Desktop"
set results to search for "We wish"
set a to title of item 1 of results
display dialog a
tell application "Google Desktop"
set results to search for "you a"
set a to URL of item 1 of results
open location a
tell application "Google Desktop"
set startDate to date "Monday, July 17, 2006 00:00:00 "
set endDate to current date
search for "happy" after date startDate before date endDate
Or, let's say you want to find only email results:
tell application "Google Desktop"
search for "birthday" restrict to email
Or, finally, you'd like to do an exact search (as opposed to a prefix search, which is the default):
tell application "Google Desktop"
search for "hoff" without prefix match
Of course, you can use all of this directly from the command line using osascript.
There are several other options for "search for" and a few other simple commands hidden within the dictionary, so poke around and see what you can do.
Doug, Keith, Drywall, asokoloski, psmith, and others engaged in a lively debate about whether and how Google and other Web companies compensate the telecom infrastructure providers for our use of their network facilities. As many well know, the Internet's longstanding charging arrangements allow each party to pay for its own connection to the Internet. That party then is free to utilize that connection in whatever lawful ways are desired. Google believes that consumers should be able to acquire higher speed or performance capacity from the broadband providers, and then use this capability to reach any service they wish on the Internet. In particular, consumers should be able to purchase tiered pricing arrangements, based on the use of bandwidth, latency requirements, or other objective measures. Such arrangements would constitute an appropriate, cost-based practice that fully compensates the broadband provider for the additional capabilities provided.
On the other end of the "pipe," Internet-based companies spend billions of dollars annually on R&D; to create and deploy compelling content, applications, and services for American consumers. This massive amount of material typically is deployed on millions of Web servers located around the country. In order for the content and applications to be delivered into the Internet, so it then can be made available to consumers, Web companies must arrange with network operators to: carry the data traffic from company facilities to their Web servers over local telecom lines (the "last mile"); carry the data traffic from the Web servers into the Internet over high-speed, high-capacity data lines ("special access"); and carry the data traffic over the numerous interconnected networks that make up the Internet (the "Internet backbone"). To accomplish these important connectivity and transport functions in a fast and effective manner, Internet companies collectively pay many billions of dollars per year to network operators, which fully compensates them for their network investment.
We believe that broadband providers should be precluded from charging content providers for terminating traffic to a particular end user. Allowing broadband providers to leverage their "situational monopoly" over terminating traffic would allow them to choose which content providers receive preferential treatment over others, thereby distorting the marketplace. The institution of terminating charges also could lead to the balkanization of the Internet, in which each of the hundreds of local telephone and cable operators around the country – and, perhaps even more importantly, around the world -- would assess its own set of fees for terminating traffic on its network.
I hope these clarifications have been helpful, and that you'll keep sharing your thoughts.
P.S.: Be sure to check out Robert Cannon's outstanding blog, Cybertelecom, which should be required reading for anyone interested in the Internet and broadband policymaking discussions in D.C.
While some of you may already be familiar with referrals for Google products, this launch will greatly expand the inventory and functionality of referrals for AdSense publishers. Below we've highlighted a few of the key benefits of referrals 2.0:
- Expanded product inventory: While many of you have had success referring one of our Google products, some of you weren't able to find a product that fit the context of your site. Referrals 2.0 offers products from thousands of AdWords advertisers, so you can find the right ads for your sites.
- Category and keyword targeting: With thousands of products available, it can be difficult to decide which ads will perform best on your site. That's why we give you the option to refer products by category and keyword. You can narrow down the types of ads you want to display and let AdSense figure out which ones will perform best on your site. Whether you want ads for a specific category, advertiser, or product, referrals 2.0 will give you the control to decide.
- Ad unit optimization: It can be tricky picking the best ads for your site, so we've included ad unit optimization for referrals. When you create a new referral ad unit, simply select the Pick best performing ads option. We'll then compare your selected ads to other relevant ads, and serve the ads we expect to perform best on your site.
- Better targeting for pages with multiple themes: With standard contextual targeting, ads may not match up directly with the text around them if there are a number of themes on the page. With referrals, you can select unique "keywords" for each ad unit to narrow the targeting directly to the theme you want. Better targeting means higher earnings for your site.
- Greater compensation for high-quality traffic: Since referrals are paid on a cost-per-action (CPA) basis, your traffic matters. If the traffic you send to advertisers is more likely to turn into a completed sale or lead, you will earn more with referrals.
- Add your seal of approval: Unlike AdSense for content ads, our program policies allow you to make specific references to referral ads on your site. If you endorse the product that you are referring, feel free to let your users know. By adding your personal review of the products you refer, you can help your users make more informed choices.
If you have any questions about how to add a new referral unit to your site, be sure to check out the updated referrals section of the Help Center.
UPDATE: Clarified that referrals 2.0 is currently only available in referrals-supported languages
Posted by Dan Friedman - AdSense Product Marketing
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, one of our policy aims is expanding free flows of information around the world, and advancing the practical ability of users to express themselves. The Internet can clearly be a powerful tool for diverse voices to speak and be heard.
Overly optimistic? Maybe. But consider the example of Venezuela's Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), the country's oldest and (until recently) most-watched television network. One month ago today, we welcomed RCTV and its channel elobservadorlinea as a new broadcaster on YouTube.
On May 27, when RCTV's broadcast license expired, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez refused to renew it on the grounds that RCTV violated broadcast laws, supported a botched coup against him in 2002, and more generally offered a decidedly anti-governmental perspective. In spite of protests by thousands in the streets of Caracas, he replaced RCTV on May 28 with a state-run broadcast station. On that same day, RCTV's news department -- operating on reduced staffing -- created a channel on YouTube on which it began airing daily three hour-long installments of its newscast "El Observador."
Since then, many of RCTV's videos on YouTube have generated lively debates about freedom of expression in the "Comments & Responses" section. In the offline world, peaceful protests for freedom of speech and the reinstating of RCTV's broadcast rights continue to this day on the streets of Caracas.
The inaugural post in response to the first elobservadorlinea RCTV video exclaims, "¡Viva la libertad de expresión!" (in English, "Long live freedom of expression!") The debate that follows embodies the Internet's unmatched ability to facilitate the freedom to express, create, contest, debate, complain, and inspire.
So, ¡bienvenido RCTV! We predict and hope your example will inspire others to embrace the Internet as a critical means of communication when other means have been foreclosed.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
For most Linux users, looking for files, documents, or emails usually involves some combination of 'find' and 'locate,' but sometimes these tools don't quite do what you're looking for, like finding that single PDF containing the specific topic you're looking for. Or you just wish there was a much easier way to find something than 'find /home/username -name '*.pdf' and 'pdftotext pdf_file_name.pdf output.txt...'
So that's why today we're releasing Google Desktop for Linux. Developed primarily out of our Beijing office, it includes almost all the features from the first Windows version of Google Desktop Search plus the Quick Search Box, so you can quickly search through all your files, emails, web history, and more. Just hit 'Ctrl' twice to bring up the Quick Search Box and start finding your stuff!
Have fun searching, and tell us what you think.
You can also try our Mac and Windows versions.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Posted by Alden DeSoto, Google Analytics Team
- Polls, which you can add to your blog sidebars
- Enclosures, which turn your blog feeds into pod/video-casts
In it are 17 new languages, in addition to the 19 that were there previously - tell your friends around the world! Here's the list of new ones:
- Português (Portugal)
- Tiêng Viêt
Yesterday I addressed some of the comments on my net neutrality post dealing with the broadband market. Today I'll delve a little deeper on another issue you asked about: type-based traffic differentiation.
Several users commented on Google's position that reasonable type-based differentiation of Internet traffic can be an acceptable business practice. As we explained in our FCC comments, we do not dispute that broadband providers should have the ability to manage their networks, as well as engage in a broad array of business practices. To us, the real question comes down to what kinds of business models and network management techniques rely on unilateral control over last-mile broadband facilities (the proverbial "on-ramps" to the Internet), in the service of anticompetitive or discriminatory intent.
Most known network management techniques will create few if any marketplace harms. So, for example, we believe that a broadband provider should have the leeway to utilize legitimate application and content-neutral network management practices that seek to neutralize objective network harms. These practices would include halting harmful denial of service (DOS) attacks, or blocking certain traffic containing viruses or worms.
We also stated that it may be a reasonable business practice to prioritize all packets of a certain application type. Our rationale for that position is that there may well be tangible end user benefits from giving preferential treatment to certain Internet packets, such as those in a streaming video transmission, in order to enhance the end user experience. As long as the categories of "type" are identified and designed with objective criteria in mind (such as sensitivity to latency or jitter), and prioritization is apply in an even-handed manner to all packets in that category, the practice can be a fair one. If, on the other hand, type-based prioritization is used to promulgate discriminatory practices – such as degrading or prioritizing certain applications based on an intention to impair the offerings of competitors – such practices should be prohibited as unreasonable.
I will be the first to say that allowing type-based prioritization is a close call, and reasonable minds certainly can differ. Many in the Internet community lack trust that the broadband provider will employ packet prioritization over last-mile networks in a manner that still preserves an open Internet environment and does not facilitate the introduction of anticompetitive practices. Moreover, prioritization generally creates a host of practical, economic, and technical problems, not least of which is that the broadband carrier has fewer incentives to build out its network capacity where it can make more money simply by charging for differentiated service.
On balance, though, we believe that the possible end user benefits from differentiating between certain broad categories of Internet traffic outweigh the potential competitive and discriminatory threat. That doesn't mean that we cannot subsequently criticize, and seek to halt, any such practices that take an anticompetitive turn. Nor does it mean that Google somehow is going "soft" on network neutrality. We have merely drawn the line in a slightly different place than others in the pro-net neutrality camp.
Tomorrow, I'll address your comments about another net neutrality topic: paying for bandwidth.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
There's been some discussion here in Washington about our planned acquisition of DoubleClick -- as well as questions from policymakers about what this acquisition and others mean for the online advertising space. Check out this new post over on the Official Google Blog that explains why we're buying DoubleClick.
Today we introduced some exciting changes to Google Docs & Spreadsheets.
Here's what's new:
- Looking pretty - The entire document list has been given a complete visual overhaul - new icons, more content, and better organizational controls. We know users spend a lot of time here and we aim to make it feel more like home.
- Getting organized - Almost from the day we launched people have been clamoring for folders. They're here! Even cooler, our new folders continue to work like the tags they've replaced - your old tags are automatically converted to folders and documents can live in more than one folder at a time. Organizing your documents is as easy as dragging and dropping a document to a folder. We've also included special controls for seeing only those documents created by you or shared with a particular person.
- Search that thinks ahead - If you've ever tried Google Suggest, you know how cool it is when a search engine offer suggestions as you type. Google Docs & Spreadsheets now works the same way - we offer dynamically filtered results from your document list as you type, saving you time and getting you to your documents more quickly.
A couple of weeks ago we blogged about a new feature and a new kind of Custom Search Engine (CSE) that you could create on the fly. Today, we thought we'd dig a bit deeper and describe the underlying infrastructure that powers this. With our new Linked CSEs, we are exposing the API to create and control CSEs.
Until now, you created a CSE either by using the wizard or by writing an XML file and uploading it to Google (via the "Advanced" tab on the control panel). To change any aspect of the CSE, you had to either use the control panel or upload the new XML specification. This imposed several limitations:
- Creating and maintaining a CSE was a manual process.
- It was difficult to create a large number of CSEs.
- It was difficult to use other data sources such as iCal, RSS, Google Base, etc. to programmatically create CSEs.
The search box code for these CSEs (found on the "Code" tab in the control panel) includes a "cx" parameter with every search request (for example, <input type="hidden" name="cx" value="005946352831473999820:qs1idu8ptku" />), which specifies an internal identifier for the CSE.
How does this work? With Linked CSEs, you designate a CSE specification URL with each search request (as a hidden form field in your search box HTML code). Google retrieves the CSE specification from the URL when your user searches in the CSE. We cache and refresh the results so that only the first search to your CSE incurs any delay. The flexibility to specify how your search engine should behave, just when your user is doing the query, using whatever data sources you want, opens up many possibilities:
- You can use our makecse tool to generate CSEs from different sources of links:
- You can combine multiple sources of links using our makeannotations tool and the <Include> tag. For example, its easy to create a search engine from the links on the front pages of techmeme, slashdot and digg.
- You can write your own tools to produce <Annotations /> XML from other data sources such as Google Calendar or iCal feeds, Google Base or any other structured source of information.
- You can automatically generate any number of CSEs, each possibly tuned to a particular user. For example, we've created a sample that builds a CSE from a user's digg.com friend network and submissions using the Digg API. Try it out and view the source. This makes use of two simple python CGI scripts:
- diggannos.py generates <Annotations> from the specified user's submitted stories
- diggcse.py generates <GoogleCustomizations> from the specified user's friend network. For each friend, it generates an <Include> element pointing to the appropriate diggannos.py URL
- diggannos.py generates <Annotations> from the specified user's submitted stories
You can test any Custom Search Engine XML by going to http://www.google.com/coop/cse/cref and entering the URL. Putting a search box on your site is as easy as copying a small bit of HTML code and modifying the "cref" parameter.
Our Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik will speak in the afternoon on Advanced Web Analytics Tips and Best Practices. He'll provide six specific recommendations that can help you create a strategic advantage from the use of web analytics data. Since I have a conflicting meeting on the east coast, my esteemed colleague Alex Ortiz is stepping in for me. He'll present on how to use the new Google Analytics interface to track both natural and paid search.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Posted by Brett Crosby, Sr. Manager, Google Analytics
We thought we'd take a moment to tell you all about a free Google service that can help you drive more traffic to your site and increase your sales. Google Product Search allows people to search for and find products that they want to buy online. As a merchant, you can use Product Search to promote your products to potential customers for free. If you're also a Google Checkout merchant, the Checkout badge will appear next to your listings and highlight you in the search results of Product Search.
If you'd like more information, please take a look at our FAQ or, if you're ready, go ahead and get started now.
One of the goals of Google News is to enable readers to read the news in the way that works best for them. In looking at how people use Google News and based on feedback we've received, we've found that many people prefer to read the news in a more visual way. As a result, over the last few months we have been working on Google News Image Version
The Image Version of News lets you view and explore the top headlines of the day through photos instead of just text.
When you roll over an image on the left, it exposes the full snippet and link to the related article on the right side of the page. Clicking on an image will take users directly to the article the image came from. In addition, users can search for image search results. For example, searching for Iraq in Image View would give the following results.
Even if you prefer a standard headlines page, viewing News through Images can be very useful. One classic example is sports. If you want to see the latest action, Image version lets you view the photos for a given team or for a specific game.
We're pretty excited to add this to the Google News experience, so give it a try and let us know what you think!
Tomorrow we're going to release a new version of Docs & Spreadsheets, so keep your eyes peeled. We wanted to give you a bit of advance notice since things will look different when you log in.
People have really come to rely on Docs & Spreadsheets since we launched last October, and lots of you have offered suggestions for ways we could improve the experience for both new and power users. Tomorrow's update is a direct response to this feedback, and includes new ways to keep your docs organized, and find your old docs too.
We can hardly wait to show you, and we hope you'll like what you see. If you have questions or feedback, it's always welcome in our help group.
To get started with these new ad shapes, visit the 'AdSense Setup' tab in your account. As with all format options like sizes and colors, different corner styles will perform better for different publishers. We recommend that you choose the corner style that best matches the look and feel of your sites. Please keep in mind that if your page background color, ad background color, and ad border color are all the same, these new corners won't be visible.
This new option is part of our ongoing effort to improve the look and feel of our ads. We're also working to give you even more choices to customize your ad formats while maximizing revenue and user satisfaction. We hope you enjoy the new corner options, whether you choose to go edgy or bubbly.
Posted by Teo Wickland – AdSense Product Marketing
Thanks to all who read my initial posting on network neutrality, and especially to those folks who took the time to leave comments. While I don't have the personal bandwidth (ouch) to respond to each and every posting while also taking care of my "day job" here at Google, I will check back periodically and offer follow-up reactions.
I believe it is important for companies like Google to establish a place of meaningful dialogue with the general public, and to open our policy advocacy role to outside analysis -- and yes, criticism. I also welcome your thoughts on other telecommunications and media policy issues of interest to you (my own current favorite topic is the FCC's ongoing consideration of rules governing the upcoming 700 MHz auction). And I urge folks to take their views to the places where they ultimately count: the well-trod halls of the FCC and the U.S. Congress.
Today, I'll offer some thoughts on one of the key issues raised in some of the comments on my net neutrality post: the broadband market. Later this week I'll address two other issues you asked questions about: type-based traffic differentiation, and payment for bandwidth.
Scott Cleland asked whether the search market is as highly concentrated as the broadband market, and thus deserves network neutrality regulation as well. Scott asked me the same question at an EDUCAUSE policy conference last month, but I'm happy to repeat my response and elaborate here.
I'm certainly no economist, but I do try to keep up on the latest thinking about how markets function. The available evidence demonstrates that the U.S. consumer broadband market is highly concentrated, with extensive barriers to entry, high consumer switching costs, and no near-term competition. By stark contrast, the search market is robustly competitive, with numerous major players, new near-term competition, no significant barriers to entry, and zero user switching costs.
- First, the broadband market suffers from a pronounced and intractable lack of competition. At best, consumers have a choice today between a telephone company and a cable company. The Congressional Research Service has described the current market as a "broadband duopoly," where telephone and cable companies face little real competition. The FCC's own skewed July 2006 figures still showed an overwhelmingly concentrated broadband market, with telephone companies and cable companies controlling access to 99.6 percent of all U.S. consumers. The share of alternative broadband platforms also has been decreasing steadily over time, from a less-than-impressive 2.9 percent in 1999 to an anemic 0.4 percent today. The GAO further found that only about 28 percent of all US households subscribed to broadband service in 2005, and noted that DSL and cable modem service together constitute the only broadband technologies actually available to consumers.
By comparison, the market for search engines in the United States is highly competitive. Stats from comScore and other market analysis firms show that Google has only about half of the overall U.S. search market. Indeed, Google competes every day with large, well-funded companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, and Ask.com. Aggregator search services such as dogpile.com also flourish, along with dozens of other popular search-based services in the U.S. alone. In short, the U.S search market is anything but concentrated.
- Second, while emerging technologies may eventually enable viable competitors, such channels currently do not compete in terms of speed, price, availability, or technological maturity. In fact, each of the supposed technology alternatives –- such as broadband over powerline (BPL), satellite internet, and 3G wireless -- provide no real competitive option. In particular, 3G wireless fails the test because, among other drawbacks: (1) most services do not qualify as "high speed" under the FCC's current definitions; (2) data plan prices typically are at least double what consumers pay for cable or DSL service; (3) wireless providers block many common Internet applications and services, foreclose outside network attachments, and reserve the right to terminate service arbitrarily for using "non-conforming" services; (4) few consumers have substituted wireless broadband service for wireline broadband service; and (5) the FCC's figures include all owners of 3G phones, whether or not they have purchased or used them for Internet access. Perhaps most significantly, the largest national wireless high speed Internet providers represent two incumbents from the wireline market and two longstanding telecommunications provider. The appropriate way to add up the available consumer options is not by simply counting individual broadband technology platforms, but rather independent platforms.
By contrast, the search market is dynamic and expanding all the time. Not only do we seen a raft of new entrants in the text-based search market, but also nascent services such as video search, image search, news search, and other specialized search functions. No company can afford to rest on its laurels in this ongoing race for faster and better search functionality.
- Third, considerable and insurmountable barriers to entry also limit the possibility of new competition. To build and operate a nationwide broadband system capable of competing head-on with the incumbents, would-be market entrants must (among other things) pour tens of billions of dollars into constructing local, regional, and national communications infrastructure, pay for backhaul, access rights of way, and interconnect with hundreds of other U.S. carriers. On top of that enormous investment, the market entrant then must create a commercially viable service offering, complete with retail sales outlets, technical and customer support, and advertising.
By contrast, barriers to entry in the search market are quite low. Even though established search engines from Yahoo, Infoseek, MSN, Altavista, and many others had a considerable head start in the late 1990s, Google showed how a good idea hatched on a neutral and open Internet can change the industry in a few short years. Of course, any individual or company with an algorithm, and a means of accessing the Internet, can pave their own way into the burgeoning search engine market.
- Fourth and finally, even assuming the ability to choose another broadband provider in a particular area, consumers endure considerable switching costs. Providers typically bind their customers with multi-year contracts (sometimes termed "stickiness"), bolstered by substantial early termination penalties. The prevalence of bundling together different services also helps providers reduce "churn," where there are competing offerings. Equipment costs, truck rolls, and even legacy email accounts all create disincentives for consumers to move to another broadband service provider.
By contrast, it is the user of search engines that possesses all the power. If an end user decides he or she no longer likes a preferred search engine, the time and cost to change search engines is zero. Changing search engine preferences – as with many other Web-based businesses -- is literally just a mouse click away. As a result, stickiness is not a common feature of Web-based entities.
Together, these salient factors -- excessive market concentration, no viable competitors, considerable consumer switching costs, and substantial barriers to entry -- should lead policymakers to conclude that there is a major competition problem in the broadband market. No such problems exist in the search market.
I'll have more to say later this week about some of the other issues you've raised. In the meantime, what do you think?
Monday, June 25, 2007
If you speak Turkish, you can look forward to reading about the latest AdSense updates and feature releases in your own language. Also, the Turkish support team will help you make the most of your AdSense account with optimization tips, answers to frequently asked questions, and local publisher stories from the Turkish market.
Make sure you don't miss a post -- subscribe to the new blog today!
Posted by Kamil Tavas - Turkish AdSense blog team
It's easy to access Google Finance even when you are away from your computer. Even using the most basic mobile phone, you can receive stock quotes simply by sending a text message containing a ticker to GOOGLE (466453). (Note that quotes are delayed at least 15 minutes.)
If you have web browsing enabled on your phone, go to http://www.google.com/m. And if you want easy access to stock quotes, look at Build your page and click on the Add Stocks link. Enter one or more stock tickers, and build up a watchlist for your phone.
When you're done, click the Add button. Now your Google search page will display your watchlist with 20-minute-delayed quotes below the search box. Better still, click on any of the tickers to see all the detailed quote data you would find on Google Finance on your PC, along with today's chart for that stock.
We're currently looking at alerts for your phone, too, so that you can be notified when your stocks hit specific pre-set values or when there are unusual movements in your portfolio stocks. We can even link these alerts to any relevant news articles that may offer an explanation on, say, movement in the price. Your feedback will be useful in helping shape this application, so feel free to comment.
To start a group chat, launch the Google Talk Gadget here, and start a chat with one of your friends. Click on the button at the top of the chat window that says "Group Chat," and then pick the name of the third (or fourth, or fifth...) friend you want to invite from the drop-down menu. They'll receive an invitation to join the group chat. If your friends are using Gmail chat or the downloadable Google Talk client, their invitation will launch the Google Talk Gadget.
Rhett Robinson and Qi Ke
Sunday, June 24, 2007
It's been pretty cool to work on a project like this blog for a few months, flip a switch to turn it on, and sit back and watch users respond. Now I know how our engineers feel when one of their new products make it to Google Labs.
We've had a great initial response to this blog. Thanks for the friendly blogosphere welcome from BoingBoing, Drew Clark, Paris Lemon, and Search Engine Land, among many others. The MSM-ers at the Mercury News, Washington Post, and PC World also gave shout-outs. Our corporate predecessors in tech policy blogging, Cisco and Verizon, offered some helpful blogging advice (don't try to do too much; don't be afraid to "talk out of school") and reminded us of the hilarious "wicked googley" Jerry Seinfeld AmEx ad. We've heard from some of our critics on policy issues. And the 463 guys promised to send over a casserole (mmm...reminds me of home).
We're also really glad we decided to enable comments on this blog -- and by the looks of things, you are too. You've offered helpful suggestions on improving the site (like labeling posts by issue). You told us you'd like to hear more about our China policies, what we're doing to improve U.S. math and science education, how we protect personal data, how we deal with government censorship requests, our planned acquisition of DoubleClick, and more details about our position on net neutrality. We're listening, and while we may not be able to respond to every comment, we do plan to address your questions and talk about all these issues -- and more -- in future posts.
So, thanks for reading, participating, and giving us a warm welcome. Please continue to share your thoughts on how we can keep advancing Internet-friendly public policy.