Google in Hungary and search as such

How is SEM developing in Hungary?

Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

How threatening is click fraud in the Hungarian search landscape?

Posted by Annplugged on September 27, 2006

Very briefly, and luckily, not much, at least, compared to the much wider The sensational click fraud symphony in C by Wolfgang Amadeus Press

reaching English speaking search landscape.

Why not? I asked László Fazakas manager from Arcanian Consulting SEM agency.

Basically, he said three arguments:

First, due to the limited number of Hungarian speakers in the world and in Hungary (the latter is 10 million speakers, and approx. 2-3 million users), we have a natural defense against click fraud: the Hungarian market is of relatively limited size. So the Hungarian guy called Roland Kiss in Business Week’s cover story stating that he can make up to 70.000 USD per month through ‘paid reading’ (practically click fraud) did not get rich from targeting Hungarian marketers. On the one hand, he would have needed to suck away all the total monthly national revenue from the whole Hugnarian market for that, according to Laszlo’s estimation. On the other hand, the article states that he was heavily exploiting the content network run by Yahoo, and as you can see in József’s research, Yahoo is non-existent for Hungarian users, in sharp contrast to Google’s strengthening presence: Google (62.71%), Lap.hu (a link catalog: 25.16%), Vizsla24 (7.41%), Tango.hu (1.43%)

 

Further, the Hungarian internet culture is still in its infancy, and as a consequence, there are very few really popular sites in Hungary (e.g. Origo, Index, Startlap), and a growing number of smaller sites (like the fledgling blog community of Blogter). These bigger sites and portals have personal contacts with online marketing agencies and marketers, so we could say that the 300-500 sites woth being considered are easily manually picked and not automatically included in the content network. Besides, Etarget (the sole major rival of Google Inc. in Hugnary) has managed to make successful contracts with large scale site owners for click based ads. So what counts as a big fish in Hungary is more controllable this way and provides a sort of additional natural protection against vivid fraudulent clicks.

Third, it is the domain process: unlike in the US where it takes some minutes to get a domain name, we have a long and painful process to acquire a domain in Hungary, consequently, web sites are not mushrooming from one moment to the other.

Regardless of these contextually given protective measures, search agencies as well as other online and interactive agencies are concerned about the news sensationalizing click farms, paid reading sites and whatnot. So they feel the need to assure clients that the search industry is a trustworthy field, therefore, the unknown and exaggerated phenomenon of click fraud will be treated, and due analytical attention (and compensations) will be paid.

I have run through some of the comments on Business Week site, and I have the impression that Google will need to further enhance their communication with the public regarding algorithms, the proportion of click frauds (already promised to be shown in Google Analytics, as far as I understood), the way Google controls the speedily growing content network etc.

The other thing I have found totally clear is that everybody takes it naturally that internet based marketing should be 100% accountable and accurate, while there are no huge scandals and regular press releases on old media accountability. Why not?

Escaping back to PR, print ad and direct mail campaigns (as one marketing agent, Henry from Silicon Valley was writing on Sept 22) appearing as an expectation on the clients’ side seems to be absolutely baffling for me. Admittedly, it is not a source of income for TV ad viewers to watch highly untargeted ads, and it is impossible to get paid for reading print ads, but there is a lot of money openly thrown out of the window, undetected. No noisy press releases either.

Last, I assume click fraud should be acknowledged as a criminal activity with legal consequences in the near future: it is clear from the interviews of the Business Week that those who misuse the system either are (pretend to be) unaware of click fraud having a ‘fraudulent nature’ (surprise surprise), or they are simply enjoying earning money illegally and getting away with it. True, there are no news on lawsuits involving average citizens for their clicky wrongdoings.

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Posted in Accountability, AdSense, advertising, Click fraud, Content Networks, domain, Emerging markets, Etarget, Google, Hungary, Index.hu, Lap.hu, news sites, Old media, Origo, rivalry, search, Search Engines, SEM, Startlap, statistics, Tango, Vizsla24 | 2 Comments »

Some of Google’s steps and challenges in emerging markets: Hungary

Posted by Annplugged on September 15, 2006

Search activities as well as search engine marketing is gaining impetus day bRocketsy day in Hungary in line with the international trends. It is rocketing in the US, and we seem to be before a major boom again. If search, Google is an obvious association, but not autmatically in the Eastern and Central part of Europe. In Hungary it is spreading. But how exactly Google Inc. is finding its way in the Hungarian market within the broader context of Central/ Eastern European context? I turned the person in charge, Dennis Woodside. And there you go: he was ready to answer, and even send his official photo. 🙂

Dennis WoodsideThe interview with Dennis Woodside, Director of Emerging Markets, EMEA (responsible for the entry to the China, Brazil and Mexico Markets, as well as for the Israel, Turkey, Poland operations launches, entry to the Russian market and the EMEA strategy & operations) was made on 13 September 2006. I hope you will find some useful information on how regional developments are going on. Feel free to comment and share your insights.

 

Anna: Google Inc. registered its Hungarian subsidiary in October last year. Does it mean that the Hungarian market, just like the Czech , Slovakian , Polish , Portuguese markets, is considered more and more mature for search engine marketing?

Dennis: The market is growing, and it is becoming interesting to us. The search traffic from Hungary has been increasing significantly, even though we did not have a domain (note: google.hu was squatted by a Hungarian firm, so Google search was only available through google.co.hu). More and more people are online: our statistics shows about 3-4 million users out of which half a million has a broadband connection. Obviously our mission is to make information available universally, and we take that mission seriously from the early days. Google’s aspirations were from the beginning to launch products and services in multiple languages, which can be done on the internet, even if you don’t have a lot of people (laughs). This means that years ago, maybe in 2001, when Google was rather small, our search service was accessible in the Hungarian language. People in Hungary use it because it is relevant, fast and brings good results in Hungarian as well as in other languages. So, yes, the Hungarian market is very interesting to us. The first step was to get back the Google domain in Hungary. People go to the URL bar and type in google.hu, and they expect to see Google, so the first thing we needed to fix was the domain and we are launching google.hu these days (note: already running)

Is there a growth in AdWords advertising parallelly with the increase in search traffic, too?

In every market where we have the advertising platform we’ve seen significant growth regarding advertising revenue alongside the search revenue. The markets are growing and Hungary is no exception.

If the volume of demand gets bigger, can we also count on the foundation of a major Center for AdWords in Europe like you are setting up in Ann Arbor in the US?

We don’t have any plans at the time, there’s nothing new that I would have to say on that.

What would you say are the biggest HR challenges in recruiting Hungarian, and in general, ex-soviet block country employees? Are the expectations regarding skills too high?

(note: e.g. the requirements for the position of Hungarian Country Consultant sound tough: “5 to 10 years experience in a line management role, like general management, sales, marketing, business development, for a high growth technology firm /entrepreneurial endeavor” considering that ‘entrepreneurial endeavor’ in itself is relatively young in Hungary, slowly developing since 1989, the year of transition)

Interesting question. Let me just tell you a kind of a story. A year ago we had no offices east of Berlin. We had nobody in the market but we had Russian, Czech, Hungarian search, and all the rest. The company realized that we need to solve that problem because when you have an office locally, you are closer to the market, so you understand what is going on. So having products that are suited for that market, and translations at a very good quality, we started recruiting. The first challenge was that people who were very good did not think Google was serious about the market, because we did not have anybody in the market in many places. I think we have brought up the track record in Poland, in Israel, in Turkey, so will we do in Hungary. Now people can look at other countries and see that we are serious, and we have done quite a bit in a short time in those countries. So that was the first challenge, and then, the second challenge is that often people have seen other non-local, American, and Western companies come in, invest and then pull out of the market. That particularly happened in the internet, but it happened in technology quite a bit, so that can be a concern. Needless to say, overcoming those concerns are really the biggest challenges.

But there are talents in the region, there are a number of entrepreneurs in all these places: if you go to Poland, there is a very robust e-commerce market, there’s a local website, auction platform that attracts more visitors than eBay in Polish. So there are very entrepreneurial, innovative companies in all these places and the internet fosters that kind of creativity. Entrepreneurial spirit has typically not been a problem.

Are there any plans to have a stronger presence in Hungary in the years to come: i.e. in addition to setting up servers in a storage room, can we expect to have more serious offices like a separate sales department, an RD center or an engineering center in Hungary in the near future?

Well, I don’t want to talk about that for competitive reasons, but the first step is to have the domain so that we can serve our users. After that, we will see what happens with the traffic. Another step is to hire the Country Consultant, whose responsibility is to help educate us on the market and also on what the opportunities are, and how we should approach that market, what strategies we should use. We will look to other examples. For instance, when we started in Poland, we thought that there was a pretty large opportunity from the beginning: our hypothesis was confirmed. It turned out that there is a large opportunity there, and the office is doing quite well. Similarly, Egypt is a country where we have seen opportunities, so we hired a Country Consultant because we did not know how to approach the market, and that person spent three months with us helping us to develop a strategy, and is now the Country Manager for Egypt, and we are opening up an office, and hiring people over there. So what is driving the business strategy in the market, I think it depends on what happens over the next little while.

Do you think that through the Country Consultant in charge of giving an overview of the Hungarian market, Google will initiate a dialog with the market players concerned? Are they welcoming to share experiences, insights about the Hungarian search engine market, search technology, and if so, in what form?

I don’t want to go into specifics on what the person is going to do. We will get the person on board, and he/she is to help us on what we are going to do in the market from a business aspect.

So I mean, are you going to use market researches or actually talk to stakeholders in the market?

I do not know. First we hire the person, and then we will figure out what we are going to do.

And when you moved into other countries, did you engage in a public dialog? For example in Poland

Yeah, in Poland we have a country manager with a team. In the last six months or so they started talking to advertisers and partners as well as developing business partnerships locally.

Talking of Poland, and about the rumors that the next center in Europe will be in Poland, if Google Inc. is to choose the next centre, what would matter more: the favorable geographical location, or rather it is dependent upon the market size?

This question is better suited for the technology teams, rather than the business teams where I work, but I can answer you generally: our approach is to go and find good engineers around the world, and some of them may choose to join an existing centre, so we have an engineering centre in Zurich, and also in London. And in some cases we may wish to open a centre, so we are looking for talents wherever they might be. For instance, we also have a centre in Moscow.

So it is rather up to the location of talents than the geographical location

Well, it is a little bit of both. But it is not necessarily the market size that is decisive for us. Israel, for example, is not a large market, but there are very talented engineers there, so we have a site director in Israel, who is building a team at the moment.

And that was the end of the interview… be back when developments are coming. At least Dennis promised to be available… 🙂

Final note: as you can see there is a lot up to the Hungarian Country Consultant, and his/her perspectives on the market. We hope the best, and wish her/him good luck in a growing interactive landscape with growing entrepreneurial spirit.

PS: By the way, I hope there have been more and more Hungarian programmers applying for the annual competition, so that we can prove our talent here and attract more attention from Google strategists.

Posted in Adwords, Country Consultant, Dennis Woodside, domain, Emerging markets, Google, HR, Hungary, industrial dialog, Poland, search, search strategies, SEM, users | 31 Comments »

The Hungarian reception of the AOL search history scandal

Posted by Annplugged on August 10, 2006

The AOL (subsidiary of Time Warner Inc (NYSE: TWX)) scandal about making loads of search history data publicly available for a few days has influenced the public awareness of search as such. Battelle was welcoming the scandal in a sense that now there is an opportunity to place search in the limelight (NYT: “AOL’s misstep, while unfortunate, could have a silver lining if people began to understand just what was at stake.”)

I was wondering how this issue has been treated on major Hungarian news sites (subjective selection), and if the news had negatively influenced Google (having 5% share in AOL), more precisely its aim to store and circulate as much info as possible on the world including archiving personal search histories. Users/customers’ privacy concerns related to web use/ e commerce etc. has been a hot issue since 2000 (Amazon, AOL, DoubleClick) and will surely be one of the favourites for decades.

One of the most popular Hungarian sites, Index.hu treats the issue shortly + highlighting privacy concerns, and Google is not mentioned in the article.

HVG (Weekly World Economy) is again very widely read (weekly, quality, mainly economy but also politics etc.). Here we get a bit of a sensationalist style (“raging bloggers” and enlisting the most problematic search queries like ‘credit card number’ and a homicide how to). Here we get Google in a positive connotation (Google resisted the government request for search data, and won the lawsuit), which is not always true on this site. FigyelőNet (the only real rival of HVG) did not write about the AOL news (last bit is on July 20).

Népszabadság (daily with the biggest national circulation, liberal/ centre left) strangely enough, seems to have skipped the AOL news.

Magyar Nemzet (daily with the biggest national circulation targeting conservative/ (centre) right readers): the AOL story is not mentioned–no wonder the proportion of IT/Tech news on the news site is very low (1 in Jan, 1 in Feb and 1 in July)

Magyar Hírlap (daily, considerable national circulation)–not treated at all.

The most popular tech site SG.hu is more thorough in its treatment (numerical data, quotation from Ari Schwartz etc.), Google is again left out of the scandal wave. The readership of SG.hu is probably closest to HWSW.hu, but the latter does not deal with the AOL data ‘leakage.’ The news site Hírcenter simply redirects to SG.hu.

IT News aimed at IT readers starts its article by quoting AOL apologies, goes on to bloggers’ comments (easy pie profile reconstructions, worries), and the last paragraph is devoted to the opinion gap between data protectionists (contra) and scientists (pro). Google is mentioned as successfully rejecting the American government’s request which “increases the outcry.”
Világgazdaság (WorldEconomy–daily, quality, economic) relies on the BBC and is very concise. No Google reference.

To conclude: articles that feature Google relatively often reflect on online privacy/ security issues, but the AOL scandal has not much influenced Google’s PR (no signs of taking apart Google personal search history). Why not?

To squeeze it into one sentence: we have few internet users, even fewer who reflect upon the web usage experience, and a handful who can see with their own eyes that you can check back on your search history (in GMail). SO awareness is low, lower, lowest, lowest-est.

To start with the weakest argument, my strong guess is that it might be because GMail service is not at all widespread in Hungary, so there are very few users who are aware of the fact that having a GMail account enables you to check back on your search history (most users have either other free mail services, like freemail, vipmail, citromail, or other mail addresses generated by their workplace, or some of them use other international mail addresses like hotmail).

Secondly, just like around the globe, Hungarian users are simply uninformed (and/or uninterested) about the power of search and the complex issues and opportunities it has.

Thirdly, only about 2 million out of ten million Hungarians use the internet at least once a month, so it even further restricts the number of people affected by the news.
By the way, I am really looking forward to Battelle’s expectations about a more intense (and hopefully, intelligent) public dialogue regarding what it means to make the world, and within that, our personal universe any time searchable.

Posted in AOL, Google, Hungary, John Battelle, news sites, privacy concerns, reception | Leave a Comment »

Hungarian news sites in the Google News & the AdSense content network

Posted by Annplugged on August 9, 2006

If you are interested in what Hungarian sites are crawled for news items in the Google News service, Philipp Lenssen’s page (Google Blogoscoped) gives a good overview.

Following the order of sites in his list, let’s have a closer look at the sources, and check if they are making profit from AdSense or not:

168 óra (hours): Hungarian weekly, the English option is placed in a really challenging place, hidden as the last item on the left side of the menu entitled Aktuális. Banners, flash–no AdSense

BosNewsLife: “Central Europe’s First Christian News Agency”

Budapest Business Journal: quite self-explanatory on content. The site has a “Featured links” part (hotels, entertainment etc.), besides pop-ups and banners, but it is not quite clear how advertisers can get in this section–no AdSense ads.

Budapest Sun: their positioning is true ‘Hungary’s leading English language newspaper.’ And the site utilizes the AdSense solution to generate further income. Not without flaws though: “Stop the viloence: Calls from public and foreign ministry.” Maybe it is more dangerous than violence?

The Budapest Times: excerpt from the editorial policy “Our coverage is unbiased, independent and 100% to British/German standards of journalism, offering in-depth stories on politics, business, economy, social issues, culture and the arts.” Many button size banners (among them banners in Hungarian for some genuine taste), no AdSense.

Caboodle: belongs to the All Media Hungary Group (similarly to PestiSide ) and is part of the AdSense content network (both sites, in fact)

Gizmodo: ‘a technology weblog dedicated to everything related to gadgets, gizmos, and cutting-edge consumer electronics.’ It is available in several other languages besides English (Italian, Spanish, French–no Hungarian option though). The site is part of the Gawker Media network–and I have no idea why it is enlisted under the ‘Hungary’ category on Philips’ list. Anybody help me? Anyway, besides graphic ads “You can buy a text link immediately by visiting Adbrite.”

Global Auto Systems Europe: industry news (cars, of course) “Based in Budapest, Hungary Global Auto Systems Europe is serving world-wide audience with Central European automotive industry research and analysis capabilities.” No AdSense.

HVG: Hungarian economic weekly, the English option is placed in a really challenging place: can you see ‘English summary’ in the middle of the left side of the menu? Banners, flash, banners, flash, banners, flash etc.–no AdSense.

Játékok (Games): online game magazine. The language is quite inconsistently mixed–more for the Hungarian gamez audience than for foreigners. AdSense ads run at the bottom–least efficient placement.

MédiaInfo (MediaInfo): hmm, for the English version you need to check out the last icon on top of the site (with all the customized orange icons it is again puzzling to spot it immediately)–that’s The Flag. Tha target readers are those that are working in the media industry. No AdSense.

MTI (the abbreviation of the Hungarian Telegraph Office) ‘Hungarian News Agency Corp.’ for more than 125 years. News only for subscribers, who cannot see AdSense. I liked this headline “New rhinos quarantined but pleased with local melons” It would be appetiser to read about fresh melon services or how about the zoo?
Portfolio: I only got the error messages from Google News (404) but the name of the site works: Online financial journal with tiny letters, lots of content and few banners. No AdSense, unfortunately. UPDATED version of 22 Aug: “The most frequently crawled online financial journal with tiny letters, lots of content and few banners. No AdSense, unfortunately(!): as a reader I miss it, what if I thought of buying a related article?”

Believe it or not, the list ends here–hopefully expands in the future as many other news sources are not crawled yet.

Posted in AdSense, advertising, Blogoscoped, Content Networks, Google, Hungary, news sites | 5 Comments »

‘google’ and ‘magyar’ and the search results

Posted by Annplugged on August 3, 2006

The noble fourth place for the keywords ‘google’ and ‘magyar’ is taken by the search-engine-index.co.uk, which aims to show you a promising list of Hungarian search engines. Take it with a pinch of salt, though.

Some of them are simply unused (and probably unknown) by now, like the pioneering HUDIR (Hungarian directory), or the one called Goliat. And there is one that takes you to an adult page, the one called ‘Hungary Guide’ (it is redirected to many naked ladies, rather than to a catalog or a search engine).

For a better list see this previous post.

Anyway, what is interesting to us if there is a competitor (agency) for Google regarding key word advertising in Hungary and not merely competitors for search traffic. Next time, I will have a look at the PPC adverstising options for those who wish to target Hungarian customers–Google and its rival(s).

Posted in advertising, Goliat, Google, HUDIR, Hungary, rivalry, search, Search Engines | 3 Comments »

TOP SEARCH ENGINES IN HUNGARY?

Posted by Annplugged on July 27, 2006

While there is no official data on the distribution of search engines used by Hungarian webizens, József Jároli, a SEO guy, and watchful blogger, made an interesting analysis.The Search Cake
As he puts it, the graph “shows the number of referrers by search engines and directories based on the results of 26 randomly selected publicly available web statistics in August, 2005.” What I find interesting in József’s graph is the visible non-existence of Google’s main rivals, Yahoo! and MSN, and József must be right that one of the main reasons for this is the lack of language option. Therefore, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th places are taken up by Hungarian search engines:

  • 2nd lap.hu/ startlap.hu (in English: (start)page.hu), which is a directory/ link collection in fact, and is very popular in Hungary (according to the owner, Sanoma Inc: it is the most popular opening page in browsers used by Hungarians).
  • 3rd kurzor.hu (in English: cursor.hu), which used to squat on the domain google.hu, and now there is no news about the financial consequences of their deed, but being forced to give back the domain must have resulted in a considerable decrease regarding the traffic.
  • 4th as József writes: “vizsla24.hu is the search engine of Hungary’s biggest portal: [origo].” I only add, for the sake of etimology, that it used to wear the name altavista, for obvious reasons, then was changed into alta vizsla (vizsla is an indigenous Hungarian hunting dog, a very nice, and friendly one indeed), then again changing into vizsla24 (so you had a hunting dog for the 24 hours of the day).

The graph shows that Google is/seems to be by far the most popular search engine, but the number of rivals and their possible distribution must have changed even in a relatively short span of time (1 year), on a relatively small market (approx. 2 million users). For one thing, there is a new engine called Tango, which is becoming a stronger and stronger player. The engine has been specifically developed for Hungarian morphology, character sets etc. by Etarget (PPC company) in cooperation with Sanoma Inc. (see Startlap catalog above), and can deal with requests more precisely in one respect. Its algorithm can not compete with Google, but again there are certain solutions that can enable Tango.hu to grab some slices from the search market. All the more as the popular Startlap catalogue mentioned above is also owned by Sanoma Inc. and this way the catalogue and the search engine can strengthen their online presence, according to Zoltán Harkányi (aka harzol). One of these techniques is that there are Tango search boxes placed in the middle of some online magazines, and journals like Figyelőnet.hu (literally: ‘observernet.hu,’ one of the most respectful economic journals in Hungary), also belonging to the Sanoma group. Whenever you read the site and you suddenly feel the urge in your fingers to launch a search on the web, it is more conevenient to use an inner search box than to meander to Google with extra clicks. The efficiency of results is varying, depending on the topic and sites you wish to get more info on. But the quick availability is not to be neglected.
What Tango does not have however, to mention but a few, is not only the solid income from GOOG shares, the 100-factor based algorithm, or the international renomé, but also the constant PR news that Google has in the Hungarian press. Tango’s birth was announced, and since then there is no more about it to keep it afresh in users’ mind.

Posted in Google, Hungary, search, Search Engines, statistics, Tango | 2 Comments »