Google in Hungary and search as such

How is SEM developing in Hungary?

Digital Creators at DLD07 conference: Image Metrics

Posted by Annplugged on January 22, 2007

In the Digital Creators program set, first we listened to the presentation from Image Metrics. Awesome! Especially in light of the short film on Gollum (one of the extras on Two Towers) I watched two days ago: here you can see Andy Serkis, the Gollum actor all covered in markers, prosthetics etc. The schizophrenic Gollum scene is showing Andy’s face, and Gollum’s face is precisely copying the actor’s facial movements.
Now what Image Metrics is doing is something like this: actually copying the most subtle facial movements of actors/ actresses, but within 20 minutes, but without any markers, and even tracking and transferring the eye movements (which is particularly important as obviously eyes cannot be tagged with markers). So Image Metrics offers performance driven animation: no stage, no hassle, no markers, no prosthetics, can be taken to any kind of characters (e.g. on a teddy bear too). They have a staggering tool which is capable of automatically transferring live or recorded facial movements, characterized by the New York Times as the ‘new technology that captures the soul.” As Andy Wood from the California-based company was saying “this tool provides a level of subtlety and realism that no other methods can.”
For a few moments, Marylin Monroe also came to live (facial movements ‘stolen’ new texts given into her mouth, and based on the store of facial movements, new pieces made…. christ, you can so easily make controversial obituaries, non-existent family scenes to fill in emotional gaps).
There is also live action capture, they work also in video games (just think of Zidane: in game face cretion technology e.g. soccer game, footballers getting angry with the referee, or with each other), they can also track the profiles of faces, this method can also be used in medical fields, like instantenously comparing two x-ray photos for ostheoporosis etc. etc.

The only thing that bothered me in Andy Wood’s keynote was the videoshot used as an Image Metrics ad, a frame for the keynote, a mantra, a hypnotizing-shouting scene of a digital black warrior whose ‘face’ acted by two different actors in turns (one black and one white) who is yelling in a dictator-style ‘I have seen the future …. and the future is Image Metrics.’ To be honest, I did not find it funny, I think it was threatening, which should not be – after all enough people will find this method threatening in itself, you do not need to raise fear gripping the butterflies in the belly, and squeezing them.

Great technology, though. Truly revolutionizing, luring creative people.
The other digital creator invited as a speaker was Luc Besson (yes, the Luc Besson) but I suggest watching the interview with him on the DLD aggregator. He is nice, friendly, no sign of a ‘big face’ he could have featured.

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Posted in DLD07 | 1 Comment »

What is your badge number at DLD07 conference?

Posted by Annplugged on January 22, 2007

Stephanie Czerny, Marcel Reichart, the DLD hosts are welcoming us on the second day. There is a smooth wave of jazz music before the speech begins, so if you did not get much sleep last night, you need to wake up wihtout the music. 🙂
The back of the

The badges we are wearing are in fact part of a huger picture (depicting a delicately woven network), cut up in small puzzle pieces, mine is 778 out 999. What is yours? If you wish, put it down in the comments.

Posted in DLD07, Social network | Leave a Comment »

At DLD07 conference, continuous partial attention

Posted by Annplugged on January 21, 2007

I am taking feverish notes right now at the DLD conference in Munich: so the following series of posts will be about the conference and not about the cross-section of search, Google, and Hungary specifically.

Linda Stone: On Attention

So what about our so precious attention? Linda Stone says continuous partial attention (CPA) does not equal with multi-tasking (MT): while CPA is fuelled by the urge not to miss anything, MT is propelled by the sense of having to or wishing to be more productive.
Although the trend of CPA is getting widespread, there is also a reversal in the trend due to the increasing attention and stress related diseases we are undergoing. The result? Searching for less being ON, being more protective and trying to fend off our private time, and looking for more meaningful relationships.
‘More meaningful’ does not necessarily mean, says Linda, that no more World of Warcraft is getting in your life. WOW in itself is a more meaningful form of interaction than first person shooters. ‘More meaningful,’ in this sense, gives scope for web-based hobby communities, i.e. collective attentions, which are like tribes, rather than games of solitude and purely individual achievements.
Whether on or off getting more from what our attention is turned to is a growing demand. Endless stimulation is becoming less emphatic, instrad, the quality of stimulation is in the limelight. Quality of life is the new mantra. Ease of use has become a default setting, now the question is: how much this gadgety-widgety is improving my life? And that is a powerful message to the design world, to all of us connected to design in one way or another. For mass consumption of quality design just think of ipod (OK, it would have been more timely to say iphone, but that’s only coming to Europe, meaning the western part of it, in Q4, as I heard it)

And one more thing, before CPA culminates in 2014, as estimated by Linda Stone, we may experience a period of tech-driven birth control: back home from work means being glued to blackberries rather than being glued to nice verbal intros to night’s niceties.
But in a few years’ time, more and more of us will know how to use those attention devouring tools but will choose no to use them in certain ‘more meaningful’ hours. Just look at the millennials: “it is natural for them not to live to work, but to work to live, and actually stop working at 6 pm.” Linda also added “The millenials are more in control: they find it intrusive to be called on the mobile, and consider IM or sms as the natural way to communicate on a broad scale.” Well, this is the point where there surely will be an interesting change, in Europe definitely, now that free, fully ad-sponsored, Blyk is on the way (mid-2007 Blyk is lauched in the UK targeting 16-24 of age users. They will be flooded by Blyk phones, and speak, speak, watch, hear and speak for free on a mobile, and even enjoy some rich media, and speak. So who cannot disturb them, if companies can?)

Posted in Attention economy, DLD07 | 3 Comments »

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 | 5 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 »

The best joke for search engine marketing

Posted by Annplugged on October 15, 2006

I have found a joke that is probably the best match for presenting how search engine marketing works, how it makes your site stand out, and how we try to be the most attractive in the auction system (albeit invisible).

If you have a better one, please do not hesitate to add it to the comments or send it to me (see about author page):

Marketing Two-Upmanship

A retailer was dismayed when a competitor selling the same type of product opened next-door to him, displaying a large sign proclaiming “Best Deals”.

Not long after he was horrified to find yet another competitor move in next-door, on the other side if his store. It’s large sign was even more disturbing- “Lowest Prices”.

After his initial panic, and concern that he would be driven out of business, he looked for a way to turn the situation to his marketing advantage. Finally, an idea came to him. Next day, he proudly unveiled a new and huge sign over his front door. It read,

“Main Entrance”!

Posted in advertising, contest, joke, Jokes and Humor, rivalry, search, Search Engines, search strategies, SEM, SEO | Leave a Comment »

Google AdWords Training on YouTube?

Posted by Annplugged on October 10, 2006

So now if training, let’s see what YouTube offers on AdWords tips and tricks. I am truly disappointed that free trainings are only available in the US, you lucky ones over the sea…) 🙂

As Inside AdWords says “The first round of AdWords Seminars will be offered in select cities: Los Angeles, San Mateo, Chicago, New York City, Miami, and Boston.” But they also call the attention to the continuation of the series for which updates are available by filling out a form
So back to YouTube, is there any long distance course? Well, the first trial for ‘AdWords training’ keywords was unsuccessful:

Video results for ‘adwords training’ No Videos found for ‘adwords training’
OK, let’s check ‘seminar’ The result is the same: Video results for ‘adwords seminar’ No Videos found for ‘adwords seminar’ All right (sigh). What about SEM training? Pops up 6 hits, but sadly enough, probably the closest one is ‘Boeing extreme landing training’ (maybe to do with landing pages)

How about search engines? That’s it! Promising list, good stuff just by the look of it: mostly SEO stuff (not overviewed clips, even if a guy called SageRock re/appears on almost every page uploaded by himself), then more popular stuff like the bizarre commercial for the Japanese search engine and another for Google Brain Talk search engine (the futuristic Google), one for a somewhat weak comedy entitled Ernest the search engine but at least it is short, and event snippets like the short recording on 2006 SES conference and the Google Dance.

I expect Google will not miss out on publishing the free AdWords course to let others get close to the know-how. will they? Oh, and a bit of foolproof tagging should help a lot. For me, definitely.

Posted in advertising, Adwords, clips, Course, Google, Google Adwords, search, Search Engines, search strategies, SEM, SEO, statistics, Training, Video, YouTube | 1 Comment »

Marathon clips on YouTube

Posted by Annplugged on October 10, 2006

Checking out YouTube, (now nicknamed GooTube, yet keeping its own identity and all the 67 people), is getting a regular spot during the day. I bumped into marathon clips, which confused me at first. I thought the upper limit is 10 minutes, hard and fast rule. Yet many programming session can be found that exceed 2 hours, 3 hours and even 4 hours. So how can it be? I thought Google changed the name of the game, but it turns out it is not irregularity, on the contrary:

How long can my video be?
Most videos on YouTube are under five minutes long. There is a 10-minute length limit (unless you have a Director account). Longer videos require more compression to fit in the 100MB size limit, and the quality will go down as the length of the video goes up.

So I guess 3DBuzz has such an account for their 2 and a half hour long Delphi training sessions. No problem with the quality either (at least for educational purposes).

Posted in clips, Google, marathon, Training, Video, YouTube | Leave a 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 »