Google Ad Quality Upgrade Imminent

15 09 2008

Attention advertisers: a promised change to Google’s AdWords quality-judging method will take effect in coming days.

The change adjusts Google’s calculation of advertiser’s quality score–a key factor in determining how much the advertiser must bid to ensure ads are placed next to search results. With the new system, quality is calculated at the time a Google user performs a search, though historical data such as an advertiser’s click-through rate still factor into the equation, Google’s Trevor Claiborne said on its AdWords blog on Monday.

Given the size of the industry that’s grown up around Google’s search-ad system, any changes can cause indigestion in the search-engine marketing (SEM) business. Google tried to encourage people to look at the big picture, though: “These improvements are part of a continuing effort to deliver relevant ads to our users, and also to provide you with more control over your bidding and more insight into the quality of your ads and keywords,” the company said.

Another change replaces the “minimum bid” price with an estimate for how much a particular advertiser would have to bid for ads to show on the first search page.

“Queries with a high level of advertiser competition may have significantly higher first page bid estimates, because you’ll likely need to bid above the old minimum bid to rank higher than your competition and show on the first page,” Google said. “Remember that you can bid less than your first page bid estimate and still show on subsequent pages–as long as your keyword is relevant to our users.”


Google to Digitze Newspapers

9 09 2008

Google is making searchable, digital copies of old newspapers available online through partnerships with their publishers, the company said Monday.

Under the ad-supported effort, Google will digitize millions of pages of news archives, including photos, articles, headlines, and advertisements, Google said.

“Around the globe, we estimate that there are billions of news pages containing every story ever written. And it’s our goal to help readers find all of them, from the smallest local weekly paper up to the largest national daily,” said product manager Punit Soni in a blog posting about the effort. “The problem is that most of these newspapers are not available online. We want to change that.”

The effort is of particular interest to reporters such as myself who’ve made the jump from print journalism to online. When I started at CNET a smidgen shy of 10 years ago, I was initially concerned that the online medium was more ephemeral than print.

But as soon as I realized that CNET’s search box opened up our archive of work, I realized that online news actually is more permanent in many ways than a newspaper that’s almost invariably recycled or thrown away within a day of its publication. Few have the time and money to visit a newspaper’s archive of old papers, called the morgue, or flip through back issues in a state library’s microfilm collection.

The results of Google’s project initially will be available through the Google News Archive site, Soni said. “Over time, as we scan more articles and our index grows, we’ll also start blending these archives into our main search results so that when you search, you’ll be searching the full text of these newspapers as well,” he said.


7 09 2008

Built by General Dynamics, the GeoEye-1 is equipped with a next-generation camera made by ITT. This camera can easily distinguish objects 16 inches long, with 11-bits per pixel color. In other words: this thing can see the color of your shorts. It will be up there, looking at your pants every single day, the time it takes for it to complete one orbit. And it will keep doing that for more than ten years, its expected life.

Of course, there’s nothing new here until you notice the huge Google logo on the rocket, signaling the fact that Sergei and Larry own the exclusive rights to the GeoEye-1 images. Yes, no other company will be able to access this information, only Google. And they will be there, available for the public in Google Maps and Google Earth.

But don’t fret, tin-foil hatters, because Google won’t be able to access the highest resolution images because of US government regulations. Sure, the other guys will, but then again, their big bad satellites can see closer than this one. Still, you can rest safe that your underpants will be safe from public scrutiny. For now. Unless you do like me and keep flashing them around.

Google Announces Android Market

28 08 2008

Google on Thursday announced Android Market, an online center that will let people find, buy, download, and rate applications and other content for mobile phones equipped with the open-source operating system.

Attracting developer attention is a key part of the Google-led Android software effort, and those who produce applications will have an easy time getting them to the market, Eric Chu of Google’s Android project said in a Thursday blog post.

“Similar to YouTube, content can debut in the marketplace after only three simple steps: register as a merchant, upload and describe your content and publish it,” Chu said. “We chose the term ‘market’ rather than ‘store’ because we feel that developers should have an open and unobstructed environment to make their content available.”

Though the first Android phones are planned to arrive later this year, Chu said to expect the initial phone-based Android Market application to be a beta version that might only support distribution of free applications. An update later will handle different versions of applications, support for different profiles of Android phones, and analytics to help developers track adoption.

The move was expected. Google said in May at the Google I/O conference that it would provide a central repository of Android software.

Google Spreads Out

26 08 2008

Google is joining forces with foreign phone companies to help lay new undersea fiber optic cables to bring faster Internet speeds to the far corners of the world.

On Tuesday, the Web site TeleGeography reported that Google has joined a consortium to build an intra-Asia undersea cable called the Southeast Asia Japan Cable to connect Japan, Guam Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Earlier this year, Google joined a group to build an undersea cable linking Japan to the United States. The consortium building the new intra-Asia cable has many of the same members as the consortium developed for the Japan-U.S. cable, including Google, Bharti, SingTel, KDDI, and Global Transit.

There is already a lot of competition along this south eastern Asian route with several cable have already been planned. As a result, the new intra-Asia SAJC cable won’t likely be ready until 2011, TeleGeography analyst Alan Mauldin said in the report.

In addition to helping new fiber under the ocean in Asia, Google is also supposedly looking for partners to help it build a new undersea cable to Africa. So far details have been scarce, but the South African Web site ITWeb reported earlier this month that Google recently met with South African ISP Internet Solutions, Telkom SA, MTN and Vodacom in July.

The site also reported that Google also supposedly met with two existing project leaders, South Africa’s Broadband Infraco, which is trying to build a cable along the west coast of the continent to Europe and Seacom, a privately owned system that will run along Africa’s eastern coast, connecting Africa to India and Europe.

Google has been building fiber infrastructure domestically for the last few years. Most of this fiber infrastructure has been used to fuel internal network and data center growth. These new under sea cable investments could be an extension of this strategy. But it also is likely a way for Google to push more bandwidth and capacity into regions of the world where it sees the most growth potential for its services.

Google executives have said for a long time that developing markets offer the biggest opportunity for the company with billions of sets of new eyeballs in these regions poised to use Google’s products and services in the future.

Androind HTC G1

15 08 2008

The age of the Android OS is at hand. But if you’re not a current T-Mobile customer, it will cost you.

According to an unofficial T-Mobile blog, the first version of the multimedia Google Phone will be released by HTC starting on September 17 for one week, for T-Mobile customers only. This offer will be immediately followed by a general release a week later.

It will be called, ostensibly, the G1, the better to ensure heavy back-patting sessions between HTC executives, boast-full about putting out the first G-phone. 

But a quirky aspect of this pretty-much confirmed rumor is that it will sell for $150 that week only, and then go up by 33% the week after that, to $250 and $400 (likely depending on the size).  The $150 price point will place it right between the iPhone and Sprint’s Samsung Instinct for optimal competition, but even with an innovative new OS and the hype that will come with it, price will be a key factor. Which is why the data pricing is important, and unfortunately, there’s no word on that yet.

The HTC G1 is supposed to include a 5” x 3” touch screen (making the 3.5” one of the iPhone look inadequate), a sliding QWERTY keyboard (like the Sidekick), and a 3-megapixel camera. 3G network connectivity is also expected, however, T-Mobile’s network is not as fully developed as At&T’s – only Las Vegas and New York expect to have full T-Mobile 3G networks at launch.

Google Q2

17 07 2008

Google Inc.’s earnings growth bogged down more than investors anticipated during the second quarter, raising worries that the ailing U.S. economy is starting to sap the Internet search leader.

Although Google’s management maintains the company will thrive even if the economy weakens further, the results released Thursday caused Google shares to plunge more than 7 percent.

Google earned $1.25 billion, or $3.92 per share, during the three months ended in June. That represented a 35 percent increase from net income of $925 million, or $2.93 per share, at the same time last year.

If not for costs incurred for employee stock compensation, Google said it would have earned $4.63 per share. That figure missed the average earnings estimate of $4.74 per share among analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Investors expressed their dismay as Google shares plummeted $40.70, or 7.6 percent, in Thursday’s extended trading after closing at $533.44, down $2.16.

Google’s second-quarter revenue fared slightly better than earnings, rising 39 percent to $5.37 billion from $3.87 billion at the same time last year.

And get this- It marked just the fourth time that Google hasn’t exceeded analyst expectations in its 16 quarters as a public company.