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What was Google thinking .com?

I stumbled across a great post on TechCrunch yesterday – an expose on Google’s astounding domain name portfolio that contains the obvious, the shrewd, the clever, and the downright baffling terms.

The analysis conducted by uptime monitoring service Pingdom exposed some very strange registrations for Google. Now before we go any further, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not unusual for a major corporation to have in excess of 1,500 domain names on its books at any one time – sure only 20 per cent of them are being used to market and the rest are a combination of defensive registrations and protection for future or past products and services.

But, in my opinion, if you’re so bad with a keyboard that you type geggle.com, glougle.com or glogoo.com when you’re trying to get to Google – you don’t deserve to find the right site. But somebody advising Google told them it was a good idea. Probably as good an idea as it was to make sure nobody else got their hands on goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogle.com.

There were some worrying things in there too – Google is the overwhelming favourite search engine but googlereligion.com? Beyond the obvious product and service domains you’d expect Google to register, you have to wonder what googleporn.com, googlesex.com and google-yahoo-porn.com are intended for. I know that the adult industry was one of very few that continued to flurish during after the dot-com bubble burst, but surely that will never be a revenue stream for Google, even in today’s economic climate?! 

Looking through the full list from Pingdom one thing is clear – a lot of Google’s domain name strategy belongs on googlejokes.com. The whole thing reminds me a bit of the time Microsoft tried to sue a 17-year-old schoolkid called Mike Rowe for having registered MikeRoweSoft.com… I suggest Google puts in a call to a real domain expert like Jonathan Robinson at NetNames to make sure they’re protected without going domain crazy. 

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What’s News Corp’s MySpace problem?

Rupert Murdoch’s $580million acquisition of MySpace may have seemed a steal compared to the $240m Microsoft paid for a 1.6 per cent stake in Facebook, but all is not well with Murdoch’s plans for his social network, and it is being felt in its stock price after Fox Interactive Media (where MySpace sits in the News Corp empire) reported it would miss its 2008 revenue goal of $1billion. News Corp’s stock price has slipped 9.9 per cent this year alone.

Sure, Murdoch is throwing money at MySpace to expand into India and South Korea and add a music downloads service, but the social network is struggling to attract and retain advertisers in the volumes it needs because of the risk of their brands being shown next to inappropriate user-generated content. It is precisely the freedom and flexibility MySpace user love so much, which is causing the company problems with advertisers.

Bloomberg reports that Fox Interactive’s costs will rise a massive 46 per cent this year as they bid to open new channels for MySpace – almost as much as revenue is expected to grow. The bottom line with investors is that while MySpace continues to try to grow its audience in different markets – it is still failing to fully monetise the vast audience it already has.

However, today MySpace launched a new ad platform to give advertisers more control over where their ads are being run. It is a small step – arguably long overdue – but whether it will solve the site’s short-term adveritsing issues remains to be seen, when rival networks have already stolen a lead. While Facebook wrestles privacy issues, today enabling an ad system opt-out, it is at least driving strong advertising revenue.

MySpace’s hope has to be in the medium term, beating Facebook into new markets where advertiser sensitivity to site content is far less pronounced, doesn’t it?



Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, News Corp – a deal done in 3 weeks?
April 10, 2008, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Google, Microsoft, News Corp, search marketing, Yahoo! | Tags: , , , ,

The bidding for Yahoo!’s future took another twist today when it emerged that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was trying to work with Microsoft to find a way they both could get their hands on Yahoo!.

Yahoo!’s rejection of Microsoft’s $31-a-share-offer earlier this week did not please a number of Yahoo!’s investors. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster asked 20 of Yahoo’s Institutional investors their opinion and the majority said they would prefer to deal with Microsoft on that offer, than do no deal at all. The growing feeling among Silicon Valley investors is that a deal will be completed in the next 3-4 weeks.

What that deal will be and what good it will be to whom, remains to be seen. Google is remaining omimously quiet although, Yahoo! is about to turn over three per cent of its US search queries advertising inventory to Google in a two week trial – clearly a little detail that – if you were cynical – might say is being done to annoy Microsoft during its pursuit.

Difficult as it is to keep up with all the twists and turns – Jemima Kiss over at the Guardian has summarised key events here in a neat timeline.



Yahoo! open to better offer, but is there any point?
April 7, 2008, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Google, Microsoft, search marketing, Yahoo! | Tags: , , ,

Yahoo! has responded bluntly to Microsoft’s three-week deadline to accept its $42 billion offer via a defiant open letter issued today saying the offer did not represent good value for Yahoo! shareholders, but that the company would be open to a better deal.

So why is Microsoft so keen on Yahoo still? Well its stock price has slipped more than 15 per cent since the start of the year an in a tightening market, search is one particular sector that is still thriving.

So that’s why the sector is so interesting – but what about Google, and if Microsoft and Yahoo! get together, do they really stand a chance? According to the latest stats from Nielsen, Google retains a 59 per cent share of all searches compared with 18 per cent for Yahoo! and 11 per cent for MSN.

Just because on their own, Yahoo! and Microsoft have failed to take make any impact on Google’s dominance, does not mean that if they get together they will miraculously make inroads. In fact, the cultures of the two companies are so vastly different that any alignment of the two businesses will take a long time to achieve and will struggle to become seemless. The real benefits of Microsoft and Yahoo! coming together will be beyond search, in terms of all the content and other services the two companies own, but that doesn’t address the sweet-spot that is search.

We’ll have to wait and see what Microsoft’s next move is, and if a hostile takeover attempt may be on the cards. Regardless, in the search sector both Microsoft and Yahoo will continue to struggle against Google. The secret to Google’s success has always been its simplicity and the fact that it was always a search engine and everything else has been built around that core, winning formula. Hard as they may try, Microsoft and Yahoo will always be coming at search from the perspective of a portal and content owner and making search the core of what they do is far easier said than done.