Microsoft + Yahoo = MicroHoo Search

The Search landscape is once again changing. With Microsoft’s purchase of Yahoo, there seems to be a new challenge to Google, which currently holds a majority share of search traffic. In fact, Google is both #1 (through Google.com) and #2 (through YouTube, which is not typically thought of as a search engine).

It’s always exciting to see new innovations and changes. To their credit, the folks at Google have not simply sat on their lead. They keep giving us search marketers new and interesting tools for attracting leads and running Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine has been showing a lot of promise, and we’re already running campaigns there. MSN search always had some intriguing demographic targeting tools, but they never pulled enough traffic to see if the system would scale.

As they join forces with Yahoo, it will be interesting to see how MicroHoo (that’s Microsoft + Yahoo to you) approaches services beyond keyword search. Let’s see some solid new ways to drive and measure relevant traffic from content, site, and video targeting.

Microsoft and Yahoo have some solid resources and assets. It will be interesting to see if Yahoo can effectively pull properties like Flickr, Delicious, Yahoo Video, or even Avatars into Search. On Microsoft’s side, they have some interesting properties that could be part of Search, including Silverlight, X-Box, Zune, Healthvault, Money, Streets, and Windows Mobile.

Let the (new) games begin!

Chrome OS & You

google-chrome-logo-25kGoogle announced their plans to evolve their Chrome web browser into something of an operating system. Geek-folk were abuzz (including myself) at this potentially huge news of Chrome OS.

And the rest of you just yawned.

Here’s the deal. Your computer runs on software, right? And that software that boots up your Mac or PC is the operating system (OS). Now, for a very long time there’s been, like, two and a half operating systems.

  • Number one is Windows. Big, omnipresent. If you run a PC, you probably run a version of Windows. (Vista, XP, stuff like that.)
  • Number two is Apple. If you have a current Mac, you run Mac OSX.
  • Half is Linux. This only gets a half because you have to actively work to put Linux on a system, even though it’s a pretty amazing OS. Plus it’s mostly free.

Google aims to introduce their own little OS to basic PC computers…computers that would ordinarily run Windows. And in our techno-centric world, Google challenging Microsoft is a big deal.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine is a direct challenge to Google. Google’s Chrome OS and Google Apps is an even more direct challenge to Microsoft. Now that everyone is connected to the ‘Net, this battle of the titans becomes more epic.

But for now, don’t worry about it. Hit snooze. We’ll wake you up in 2010 and let you know how it all turns out.

LINKS (Not Necessarily Endorsements)

Top 5 Things I’ll Pay for on the Web

As the bad economy grinds on, there are massive shifts in all industries. Many good websites have been funded (in part) by advertising, venture capitalist funds, and subscription models.

But as these revenue channels evaporate (for some websites), we’re seeing a shift in the Net economy. Good services need to find a proper revenue stream. And…get ready, gang…some of these websites are going to eventually charge a fee.

Apple’s iTunes Store and Amazon’s Kindle 2 are slowly making it possible for certain sites to turn a profit on micro-payments. But those sites sell stuff. For other sites, we’ll see a greater emphasis on Freemium models.

It got me thinking about what I would be willing to pay for, so I compiled a list of:

Top 5 Things I’ll Pay for on the Web

1. Email.
Yes, I know email is free. But I would be willing right now to pay for GMail, if it promised greater security and features. They provide an awesome service, but we’re still computing in the cloud, which makes email particularly vulnerable. Think about how many emails you’re getting that could be giving tiny bits of financial, health, or security information away. I’d pay to upgrade to something that would offer a greater level of security and privacy.

2. Electronic Health Records.
The Obama administration has placed a strong emphasis on building up the infrastructure of our health system. With that is an even stronger focus on electronic medical records (EMR). Right now there are several companies offering free EMR tracking solutions, including Google, Microsoft, and some health insurers. They’re going to have to get paid from someone, and if they’re not charging YOU for YOUR information, where will they get their money? I’d pay for EMRs that hire good quality employees and conduct full background checks.

3. Reviews.
In the old days, professional journalists were hired to be product and movie review experts. There was an editorial system of checks and balances to ensure that newspapers and magazines were unbiased. Consumer Reports was famous for not accepting any advertising, so you had to pay for their reviews. Now, to be a reviewer, all you really need is an opinion and an email address. There are hundreds of sites hungry for content, so they accept submissions from reviewers with no experience. These reviews may be spot-on or they may be looking to build a personal network, reputation, or whatever. In my experience working in pop culture, I’ve found that SOME reviewers are frustrated creators, offering opinions on stuff they think they can do better. Not all, some. But it’s that minority voice…the one with an axe to grind…that can damage a creator’s career and reputation.  So I’d be willing to pay for reviews on a site where professional reviewers were (a) experienced, (b) unbiased, (c) well-rounded, (d) had editors, and (e) were paid for their professional opinions. Check out Johanna Draper Carlson’s article How to Review.

4. Cloud Computing & Software as a Service.
My trusty old G5 Mac is still running classic boxed software. But as the line begins to blur between the desktop and the web, we’re seeing better software options. Right now, Google, Microsoft, Zoho, OpenOffice, and a dozen other sites are sharpening their software solutions. Eventually, as things shake out, we’ll see some clear leaders. Personally, I enjoy having my Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac. It works, even when my Internet connection doesn’t. Google Gears is already offering a similar solution, but it’s just not as robust as I’d like. Some people find the deep tools on Word and Excel to be overkill for their needs. Not me. I use power tools and look forward to the features that some people deride as bloatware. To me, these improvements are essential for solving editing, analyzing, and other business challenges. I would pay if Microsoft, Zoho, Google, or anyone could offer me (a Mac user) a full software solution with a reliable bridge between the desktop and the web.

5. Content.
Right now, nearly everything I consume online is free. News, videos, professional development…all free. Pretty amazing, considering how much it costs to create good quality content. Eventually, this model will change. Maybe ads will pay for everything, which would be like the broadcast TV model. Or it will move premium, like the cable TV model. Either way, someone has to pay for the content I want to consume. For example, I go to CNet nearly every day for tech news. CNet is an essential part of my need to stay on top of tech trends, so I have a professional motivation for keeping up with their content. And given the choice of seeing my favorite sites go out of business or paying a small subscription fee…I’ll pay the subscription.

Of course, all of this excludes services and content I already pay for, including music on the iTunes store and books for my Kindle 2.

If the Internet moved to a pay for service model, what would you pay for?

Oh, and one more thing. I tried to come up with a Top 10 list. The most I could come up with was my Top 5. Tells ya something, right?

Interesting links…not necessarily endorsements:
Five tips on charging for content from Alan Murray of WSJ.com

How can newspapers help Google?

It’s the Content, People.

Newspapers Want Consumers To Pay For Online Content

Laptop Lauren is an Actress

Yesterday I blogged about Microsoft’s new Laptop Hunter ad campaign. It features (supposedly) real people who are given $1,500 and told to buy a laptop that matches their own specs. In the ad, they discover that their limited budget will really only get them a PC…coincidentally loaded with Microsoft Windows Vista.

It’s cool. I get it. The commercials do a good job showcasing the (initial) affordability of a low-budget PC laptop. Certain blogs, including The Apple Blog, contend that the Apple laptop is actually a better value. Whatever. I still thought it was a good ad, since it engaged me and made me think.

The Important Update
In an everyone-is-a-detective-thanks-to-Google update, someone has managed to track down Lauren, the young woman who appears in the ads. And to everyone (and no one’s) surprise…Lauren is an actress.

She even has her own website at http://laurendelong.com/. Good for her.

Now that doesn’t mean that the campaign isn’t effective and compelling. It still is. But…

But…it was SUPPOSED to be real people. And while certain companies can get away with a little bit of winky truth bending, it doesn’t usually include Microsoft.

Microsoft faced controversy a few years back when they released “Ms. Dewey” a search librarian. This campaign featured an attractive actress who would be the sexy face of search. But Microsoft got more than they bargained for when it was discovered that the actress Janina Gavankar was actually in an adult film. So, yeah, that ad campaign generated some negative publicity for Microsoft.

If you’re a marketer reading this, take note. If you plan an advertising campaign that’s based on the testimony of real people, make sure they’re really real people and not “real people who are also professional actors.”

There is a difference.

Interesting Links…Not Necessarily an Endorsement

Microsoft Viral Videos on YouTube

As a Mac user, I quite like the “I’m a Mac…” commercials. They effectively shed doubt upon the Microsoft Windows operating system, which makes it hard to want to buy a PC.

But Microsoft didn’t get to be 90% of the PC market by being non competitive. So it’s no surprise to see them coming on strong with a viral video campaign. Microsoft has always had videos and commercials, but it’s really kind of cool to see them tapping the power of YouTube.

I really like this one featuring “Lauren” who goes to the store to pick out an HP Pavilion with Windows Vista. It’s a slick, well-produced video campaign that positions Microsoft as a value in a tough economy. (As well as HP and Best Buy, also featured in the video. Nice product placements there.)

As of today, Microsoft’s “Lauren” viral video has over 303,000 views. That’s pretty impressive for an ad that Microsoft isn’t paying anyone to view. Zero advertising spend.

Right now, the Microsoft WindowsVideo channel on YouTube, they have 71 videos. The stats show hundreds of thousands of views for some of these clips.

Not too shabby. Even this Mac guy is impressed.

I’m a Mac…he’s a Bill

You know, it’s not really fair. Those “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads are great and all…but so few people take the time to talk about those ads with Jerry and Bill.

Remember those ads? No? Hmm. Maybe it’s because they were good…they just failed to sell us on why we should buy Microsoft.

I mean, with the “Im a…” ads, you could see that they are definitely trying to get you to buy a Mac. And, quite frankly, the ads are very effective.

At one time, Mac had about 3% of the total market share in desktop computers. By some estimates, that’s up to about 21%.  Of course, much of that has been attributed to a halo effect around the iPod, but maybe some of it has to do with those ads.

Anyway, not to belabor the point, but the Microsoft ads dont really “sell” Microsoft, and maybe they dont have to. You get a few minutes in the adventures of Jerry and Bill. And tonight, that’s good enough for me.