Google in Hungary and search as such

How is SEM developing in Hungary?

Archive for the ‘Startlap’ Category

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.

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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.

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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 »

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 »

 
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