Google in Hungary and search as such

How is SEM developing in Hungary?

Archive for the ‘Hungary’ Category

Top 10 Budapest Travel Searches 2012

Posted by Annplugged on January 12, 2013

For search trends in the Budapest tourism industry, or Budapest travel in general, Google trends sums up year 2012 with the following top search terms (worldwide searches in Budapest travel)

budapest search trends

budapest search trends

hotel budapest – 100: by far the biggest search goes for Hotels in Budapest, Hungary with little surprise. In the recession, travel destinations are shifting towards cheap places with great value for money. Well, Budapest is a perfect fit for travelling on a budget. See more about Budapest on a budget.
airport budapest – 40. Now this would have probably been my number 1 tip, considering all the recent changes at Budapest airport.
weather budapest – 25. The weather in Budapest is not only a favoured topic, but many tourists would like to know what is the weather in 5 months’ time will be like. e.g. Is Budapest Christmas time about a white Christmas. We do not know about snowfall in advance, although the averages of many past decades on weather sites mean some help.
ryanair budapest – 20 involves the potential threat of Ryanair pulling out its flights from Hungary.
flights to budapest – 15. When Malev went bankrupt Easyjet, Ryanair etc. started to make a lot more profit with their cheap flights to Budapest, changing the tourism scene in the city.
budapest meteo – 15 - this Budapest travel search term goes back to the topic of weather in Budapest at first sight, but it is also probable that Budapest metro was mis-typed. What do you think?
budapest hotels – 10 – pushes up the intentions of seeking good accommodation in Budapest
praga – 10 – now this may seem funny to see Prague in Budapest searches, but we understand that Prgaue and Vienna are often paired up with Budapest as a multilocation trip itinerary. See tips for travelling by train from Budapest to Vienna and Prague. Also: how to buy Hungarian train tickets.
Budapest map – 10. Many visitors start their search for Budapest as where is Budapest. Now, once located, it is still a recurring theme to find things in Budapest, not just Budapest itself. A good Budapest tourist map is useful, but we would say it is not a must. Budapest public transportation is very well laid out (BKV), and simple maps will take you to many central places. But if you are seeking hidden gems in Budapest and doing things off the beaten track, get a good map for your phone or pocket. Budapest is big, there will be lots of walking for sure.
park budapest – 10. Now this search term may mean both car park in Budapest or the green parks of Budapest, like the City Park (Varosliget), or Margaret Island. It is a surprise for me to see this come up in the top ten list. I would have expected something like Budapest attractions, things to do Budapest, or Budapest nightlife or Budapest cards. Well, none of them made it into the top ten Budapest travel search list for 2012 – according to google trends at least.

Posted in Hungary, search | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Online Ad Spend Hungary 2011

Posted by Annplugged on August 8, 2012

According to the IAB Adex data, the total net online ad spend in Hungary in 2011 is as follows:

  • in HUF (Hungarian Forint) 30.4 billion Ft (HUF and Ft are both short for the Hungarian currency called Hungarian Forint, yes, the forint is without the letter ‘l’, not florint just forint), i.e. 30.400,000,000 HUF
  • in Euros: 109.4 million Euros
  • in USD: 134.9 million Dollars
  • in GBP: 86.3 million pounds

This amount is 18,8% of the total Hungarian ad spend. From year to year, it is over ten percent increase (12% to be precise).  Search marketing was really successful, with a 31% increase, email grew by 5% while display was slightly moving ahead but so slightly that we can just say that it stayed the same.

Mobile ad spend (both display mobile ads and non-display mobile ads) has been estimated to be around HUF 740 million by IAB.

Source IAB Hungary Adex 2011 via Rabbitblog

One fifth of the Hungarian population lives in the capital, in Budapest city, where online users are in a big cluster, which may facilitate e-commerce and other online activities connected to offline places.

Posted in advertising, Hungary | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Internet shopping stats, trends in Hungary – Google research (via TNS)web

Posted by Annplugged on August 6, 2009

Google has published its findings regarding online shopping preferences, trends in Hungary – the research panel has interviewed 1000 Hungarian internet users about their web purchase attitudes, preferences between Dec 2 2008 and Feb 3 2009. The results of the e-commerce and internet search are showing no or not much surprises I think. There is perhaps one single country specific purchase, but the bulk of the data is just what you would expect of a maturing market in the EMEA region.

Google Hungary research on online shopping

Google Hungary research on online shopping

In numbers and conclusions – internet shopping in Hungary 2008-2009

ROPO (research online – purchase offline) is more prevalent in Hungary than in more mature western markets

Research online before purchase is especially high regarding electronics goods (like the new favorite LED TV) and travel related items and services (most typically searching for cheap flights and airline tickets as well as accommodation). 72% of users check out options on the web before making their purchase decisions.

As for travel, tourism, less than half of the respondents, 48% completes the act of purchase online, while 24% of the users make up their minds based on the data they found online to make their shopping offline.

However, regarding electronic goods, the purchase in webstores is only 22%! In other words, even though internet research plays a crucial role (72%) in buying all kinds of electronic goods, TV, mp3 player, DVD player, home theater, what have you, only a fraction of that impact can be measured through web conversions, the rest of the shopping conversions will take effect in the B&M (brick and mortar) stores.

Geo-specific online shopping in Hungary: the success of the obligatory car insurance

Similarly to electronic goods and travel services, compulsory car insurance research on the web is popular amongst more than 75% of the users, out of which two thirds of them actually complete the purchase process online.

What do Hungarians use before buying goods?

Search (no surprise here either) – 88% of users use a search engine to find the desired goods before shopping. And as Google.hu is THE most popular search engine in Hungary with approx. 98% of share in the Hungarian search market, you can treat this number is 87-88% of potential buyers searching for goods on google.

Brand pages – official brand pages like nokia.hu or philips.hu have scored second with 54% in the popularity game. I was somewhat surprised by this result, as my gut instinct told me the second most popular search channel before purchase would be price comparison. But it is brand pages, there you go.

Retail stores – 49% – this is understandable, especially talking about trusted stores. Oftentimes users would like to see how much an item is going to cost for them. This vital information is not on a manufacturer’s site.

Shopping comparison / Price comparison – 48%. I wonder how western users use price comparison sites compared to manufacturer sites when it comes to researching and purchasing goods online, as my instinct tells me that shopping comparison is far more popular, but in Hungary brand sites outscored price comparison sites by 6%. Not a big difference, based on a 1000 respondents, but it is telling. As I have been working for the number 1 most visited Hungarian comparison shopping site (Árukereső), I think one of the reasons for this result is that users sometimes get confused about comparison shopping sites, they simply assume they are in another retail stores and wish to complete their purchase right on the site. Besides, another percentage of internet users in Hungary do not expect to get the updated fresh and detailed product information on price comparison or web retail shops, so they go the the manufacturer page (prices missing there, so it is in the early research phase I guess). Brands are brands after all, with a weightier brand value than most retails stores or comparison shopping sites or online auction sites have so far achieved.

Auction sites – 44%: Vatera and Teszvesz are the online auction sites in Hungary. We do not even need to say the two top, they are, period. In 2008 both were bought up (majority investment not total) by Allegro group (of Naspers), and in July 2009 Árukereső, the previously mentioned comparison shopping site has also become an Allegro group asset. That’s why one of the Hungarian twitter users was referring  to the  news that the local ebay in Hungary is in formation…

THE TAKEAWAY

As for advertising, it is pretty obvious that e-commerce companies, travel service providers, car insurance sites cannot live without working with Google (SEO for Google, AdWords PPC, SEO PR aimed at Google), but they are also dependent on shopping comparison sites (arukereso, argep, olcsobbat, depo, kirakat, shopmania – such a small country with 2-3 million users and so many comparison shopping sites, amazing right?). Other CPC tactics may include etarget (prevalent in a good range of content sites) and direct negotiations with major content sites (portals, catalogs, etc.)

PS: the illustration shows 4 columns representing the results for 4 products (digital camera, computer hardware, household equipment, and the 4th column is clothes and accessories). The vertical line (y axis) enlists the typical sources of information (TV, outdoor media, fliers, radio, direct mail, friends and family, papers, internet, earlier experience, browsing in the store, store assistant in shops, store assistant via remote communication)

Posted in advertising, E-commerce, Emerging markets, Google, Google Adwords, Hungary, search, Search Engines, SEM, SEO, Shopping, statistics, users | 2 Comments »

Google Hungary gets country representative: Zoltan Peresztegi

Posted by Annplugged on March 20, 2007

Google Hungary country representative has been chosen: Zoltan Peresztegi will be in charge of Google’s moves on the Hungarian market (almost exclusively business development for AdWords partners, hardly any, if at all, engineering at this point.

One, if one is very skeptical indeed, may have thought that the scenario was like in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Google Godot. The Long-long-long tail is waiting for the Head to have a look at the tail. Hungary with its 2-3 million users waiting for Google Kft. to get a real face, and become a source of communication – in Hungarian of course, as sadly enough, we are still struggling with the long-lasting language use effects of the post-iron curtain era where learning western languages was not really encouraged and facilitated. So, yes, it means a lot, an awful lot for companies interested in Hungary if they are able to communicate in Hungarian or not (including search marketers). For another 10 years maybe.

Google Kft. (Google Hungary Ltd.) got a head to its body at last. The single staff member and head  of all staff members is Zoltán Peresztegi. There are already several positions advertised for the Hungarian exploratory crew, so the Hungarian division will soon get bigger.

What Zoltán is doing currently is studying the country and making a report for Google on the Hungarian market relevant for Google’s strategies (similarly to what took place as an initial step in other emerging markets like Egypt). And, needless to say, he is also working on strengthening Google’s brand in Hungary (see his previous work experience at Hungarian T-Mobile brand building), and attracting more potential customers for Google AdWords and AdSense programs. (I also hope that there will be excellent educational programs, and kids as well as (young) adults will be more search-savvy through such projects). In short, the mission for the first part of the year appears to be quite complex in itself, the focus being on mapping Hungary from primarily a technological-business aspect, and also from a cultural one.

Zoltán’s reply to the question ‘Why did Google decide to come to Hungary?’ was the following:

  • the internet penetration has reached the threshold level of 30% in Hungary
  • broad band access is extraordinarily high in Hungary
  • besides using the web for searching, the internet is a medium of entertainment (according to the stats used by Google Hungary Kft.  approx. 80% of users use the internet for search, while about 70% for e-mail communication and for reading news)

When the conversation turned to the online media and marketing chapter (how much is the market share of search marketing within online marketing), Zoltán said that we do not have precise data for that, and referred to the stats of the TNS Market Intelligence, which concludes that advertising on the internet is the most dynamically growing sector within advertising with 70% in Hungary, and according to Google’s estimates, its share from the total is between 2-4%.

(Now add that the share of search marketing spend from the total internet ad spend is estimated by major market players at about 5-8%. No official data yet.)

More about the press conference in my Hungarian webtrends blog (feel free to ask in the comments if you wish to know more)

ps: There is a great interest (from the public, not only from journalists and professionals) on Google statistics concerning the Hungarian search/ paid search landscape. However, such statistics seem to come later on, when the market becomes even more mature and self-reflective – on a consensual basis on behalf of all market players concerned.

Google Hungary Headquarters in Budapest

Google Hungary Ltd since then has moved to its new office on the beautiful riverbank of the Buda side in Budapest Hungary. The HQ is near Obuda district, Old Buda. The office has foosball of course, and lots of colors.

Google Budapest Hungary Address

Google Budapest Hungary Address

Google used to be sort of secretive of the whereabouts of the Budapest HQ, but not any more. So I am also sharing it:

Google Budapest
Address: 26-28 Árpád Fejedelem Way, District II
Budapest, Hungary
1023

Posted in Country Consultant, Emerging markets, Google, Hungary | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Google AdWords Qualified Individuals and a Company in Hungary

Posted by Annplugged on December 11, 2006

So once you have turned your attention to the Hungarian market, and become interested in how to target potential customers interested in your products or services in Hungary, you may also wish to know who are holding official qualifications from Google Inc.

If so, here goes a continually updated list on the SEM professionals who are probably confidently managing Google ad campaigns.

Google AdWords Qualified Individuals:

  1. Laszlo Fazakas (holy squirrel, he’s my boss)
  2. Mihaly Bobaly (great scubadiver, too)
  3. Andras Szell (no extra info)
  4. Anna Sebestyen (gee, that’s me!)
  5. Eszter Vandor (team mate at Arcanian)

Google AdWords Qualified Company:

  1. Arcanian Consulting (great, that’s the company I work for!)
  2. no more yet.

The company is surely the first to be given this qualification in Hungary. Regionally (Eastern/ Central Europe), the first one seems to be Dobry web in the Czech Republic. As I couldn’t find any other companies entitled to the Google AdWords Qualified Company logo (checking Austria, Croatia, Slovakia, the Czech R., Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia etc.), I guess we take the silver medal. It is a guess, but a strong one. Do you happen to know about companies in the region with such qualifications? Please send me the links in this case (in comment, if it is more convenient).

Surely, the number of qualified Google professionals will steadily increase, and I hope to get info on who else to include in the list from Central Europe.

Note: last update on Jan 04 2006.

Posted in Accountability, advertising, Central Eastern Europe, contest, Emerging markets, Google Adwords, Hungary, Qualified professional, search, SEM | 2 Comments »

How many people use Google in Hungary? What about rivals?

Posted by Annplugged on December 3, 2006

According to Dennis Woodside, Google is used by 36% of the Hungarian web users (which is about 0,7-1 m users out of the 2-3 m Hungarian netizens, out of the 10 m people), in contrast to Poland where more than 80% of netizens use Google. The uneven distribution of Google’s popularity in Central and Eastern Europe should not come as a surprise at all: if local initiatives, national search engines are satisfying enough (and function as a multifaceted, one-off portal for the users in the given country, mostly ex-soviet block nations), they are more favored than Google (see the Czech), so Google Inc. needs to wait and use tactics adapted to local circumstances.
Right after google.hu, the second most popular ‘search engine’ (basically a catalog) in Hungary is Startlap (Starting page, literally) with 27% of the search volume pie, says Dennis.

Now the question arises: what does Dennis, or rather Google stats mean by the Startlap 27%?

If you open the catalog on startlap.hu, you can clearly see that Startlap uses two search engines, one called Tango (Hungarian development of Startlap in cooperation with Etarget) and the other one called Google.

picture-3.png

So it would be good to know how much of the 27% belongs to Google again. All the more as Startlap, as the main competitor of Google in the Hungarian search business, is gaining revenue by selling Google ads on its pages (search for AdSense) with the wide blue stripe and orange starlet of Startlap catalog.

picture-5.png

I am in really two minds about this issue: is it better for Startlap, which thus can generate more income for the site while providing better search results under its own logo by taking advantage of the Google algorithm, or is it better for Google by drilling into the Startlap empire and winning over ‘amateur users’ for Google? (by ‘amateur users’ I mean Hungarian internet users who are less tech savvy, and who tend to have Startlap as their default front page, plus their main search source)

I do not think that two market players consciously act like this, or have sized up the pros and cons of such a fused appearance as seen above. If so, Dennis would have mentioned this, or the director of Startlap at the Internet Hungary conference (Oct 2006), or any of my professional acquaintances in the SEM industry (as Hungary is so small that gossip travels faster than some downloaded files).

But these are all assumptions. I’ll forward this blogpost to Dennis, and we will see how he reacts. Of course, I will kindly ask Startlap’s representatives on this slightly confusing issue, too.

Let me know if you experience similar semi-fused solutions in other (emerging) countries, please.

Posted in AdSense, advertising, Central Eastern Europe, Dennis Woodside, Emerging markets, Google, Google Adwords, Hungary, Lap.hu, rivalry, search, Search Engines, SEM, Startlap, Tango | 4 Comments »

Brushing up the Google Official Blog

Posted by Annplugged on November 27, 2006

Can you imagine that tomorrow you wake up, start searching on the web, and the letters of Google Search are dull gray? I would feel flabbergasted. Now, Google’s Official Blog is somewhat like this: a Blog in gray letters, with gray faces, and gray blood.

Well, I must admit it was a relief to see Aaron’s post sincerely criticizing the Official Google Blog: saying ‘Why does Google’s official blog suck?’

Several times, whenever I used my GMail account, it came up with a wide spectrum of web clips above the mails with a promising title from Google’s Official Blog, among others. Rapid click, chasing the title and the blogpost. And? I have checked it out, and gone away totally disappointed.

No real news, rather a masterfully boring series of the promotion of those Google products that need more popularity compared to Google search and GMail. Yet, Google Official Blog is ranked as high as number 15 on Technorati. Goog Gracious!

Let’s see the last few ones:

  • The one entitled Happy Cyber Monday (practically the title was acceptable, even though ‘cyber’ is getting more and more stale): there is NO real content. It is about ‘Hello! Use Google Checkout because you can be safe with it.’ That’s it.
  • So Cal without cars? Is about ‘Hi! Use Google Transit. It feels like Sunshine.’
  • A new way to browse books is educating us how to use Google Book Search, and in the end, encouraging us to use it: ‘So check out the new Google Book Search.’

And it goes on and on in the same style. It is so official that it is nothing but a Random Tutorial, no wonder bloggers do not even like the way the name sounds ‘Google Official Blog.’

What could Google do about it?

Personalize. It is OK to read that

Make it intriguing: So Stephanie used the Transit product. Suggestions for tuning it up: Any problems with the Google Transit product? How many people are using it in California? Is it accessible in the US? When do you think it will be expanded to other parts of the world (let’s say improving traffic in Budapest, Hungary, for instance)? How did the idea came? Why did you feel you needed to put up this post on the Official Blog? Did someone tell you? Was it an inner urge or there is a growing policy in Google Inc. to become more open (e.g. because of the rapidly growing size and as a counterbalance of the corporate mammoth feeling Google is radiating – especially if its doors remained closed for the public. Scoble did a relatively good job to get inside the building, though)

Use visuals sometimes: I would truly appreciate some pics on the blog once in a while. Or even YouTube video shots embedded (like here on WordPress). Like this:

Scoble goes to Google interpreted by SouthPark

Open Feedback: Please ask for feedback on the spot, i.e. in comments, not in standardized request forms on the official Google site. It is so unbloggy. Fear of many AdWords complaints flooding in? Then have at least moderated comments (pre-checked).

Collect: many outsider bloggers write very good quality stuff about Google products, plans, etc. Pick the ones you like, link to them, and make it easily accessible to all those interested in Google. Philip Lenssen on Blogoscoped is doing a great job in this respect, but it would be an honor for any blogger to get selected by Google for a 15 second fame.
etc.

(I do not even dare to ask: when will the first Official (or just Googler’s) Google Blog in Hungarian start to function?) What does it depend on?

PS: I hope Stephanie will understand that it is not personally for her, but for the general basket of Google Inc. Blog Tutorials (sorry if it was too harsh of me). I really look forward to more colorful posts, and I do not think of myself as a superb model blogger. :)

UPDATE (Jan 01, 2006 2007): The wave of dissatisfaction has finally reached Techcrunch’s Michael Arrington, and their very-year-end post ends with a promising turn, i.e. Google may invite comments soon. Great news.

Posted in Blog, Blogmarketing, Corporate communication, Criticism, Google, Google Book Search, Google Official Blog, Google Transit, HR, Hungary, search, Training, YouTube | 1 Comment »

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.

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 | 15 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 »

 
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