Friday, September 24, 2004

Google's complaint of Froogles rejected by panel

Google's right to use the name "Froogle" for its online comparison shopping search engine came into fire Friday, when an arbitration panel rejected the company's challenge of a website named Froogles.com.

Two of the three judges on the panel of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, rejected Google's argument that Froogles.com was "confusingly similar" to Google.

"The dissimilar letters in the domain name are sufficiently different to make it distinguishable from Google's mark," the panel found. The name Froogles.com "creates an entirely new word and conveys an entirely singular meaning from the mark."

The search-engine company's loss has no immediate impact on its use of the name Froogle. But it means that the Froogles.com name will remain with Richard Wolfe, a disabled Holtsville, N.Y., carpenter who started the Web shopping site in March 2001, before Google introduced Froogle in December 2002.

But in a separate proceeding in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Wolfe has challenged Google's attempt to register Froogle as infringement of his Froogles.com mark. And in Wolfe's application to register Froogles.com, a trademark office attorney, like the ICANN panel, determined in March that Froogles.com isn't confusingly similar to any other trademark, including Google.

"Google's right to continue to use the Froogle mark is seriously in question," said Wolfe's attorney, Stephen Humphrey. "To the extent they continue to use the mark, they are infringing on Richard Wolfe's trademark rights," Humphrey alleges.

However, the third judge on the ICANN panel dissented, saying the additional letters in Froogles.com "do not distinguish the domain name" from the Google trademark. The name Froogles.com could cause users to believe that the site is affiliated with Google, the judge wrote.

Wolfe is using a confusingly similar name in a bad-faith attempt to compete with Google's business, the judge concluded.

Google didn't immediately return calls and an e-mail asking for comment. But the decision by the ICANN panel, which arbitrates disputes over Internet names, doesn't preclude a challenge in U.S. District Court.

A court would likely hear the case anew rather than as an appeal, according to the ICANN panel's general counsel. Only a handful of cases arbitrated by the panel have been subsequently taken to court.

Humphrey wouldn't comment when asked what Wolfe's next step would be. But he said, "The trademark case continues. We have a lot of options right now."

He added, "This is a variation on David versus Goliath, and the stone has been slung."

Wolfe has said that he would consider settling the matter as his legal bills mount, but that his goal has always been to continue developing Froogles.com.

"It still amazes me that I should have to go through this at all," Wolfe said. "I started my shopping service called Froogles almost two years before Google started a shopping service called Froogle. What more does anyone need to know?"

Recently, Microsoft Corp. paid $20 million to settle a trademark case it brought against Lindows Inc. In return, Lindows will change its name.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., has filed 18 domain name disputes at the ICANN panel, challenging names like "googlesex.com," "google.biz" and "googleme.com." It has won every challenge but Froogles.com.

Source: Forbes.com


Google integrates Froogle with its main search engine

December 17, 2003

Search giant Google has quietly integrated its shopping search service Froogle with its main web search on the Google.com site this week, enabling consumers to more quickly and easily find product information or buy products on the web.

The company said that Google users who enter search terms related to products for sale on the web will see search results returned from Froogle positioned just above the web search results.

For example, a search for a Handspring Treo 600 will feature Froogle search results linking to web pages where such devices can be purchased, in addition to other relevant web pages from the Google index.

Although Froogle has been in public beta testing for a year now, this is the first time the company has integrated Froogle search results into Google.

The company said that this Google web feature would gradually include more product links for a wider variety of product-related searches. Integrated Froogle results are available to Google.com users only.

Google follows rival Ask Jeeves, which recently launched a new Smart Search for Products feature that is integrated with its main web search tool.

Yahoo also recently launched a product search tool that is more closely linked with its web search, although a search for a specific product provides a link at the top of the results page through to Yahoo Shopping, rather than delivering direct product search results into the results page.

Earlier this week, Google announced another new feature called "Search by Number", which allows users to search for types of numbers, such as FedEx and UPS package numbers, patent numbers, equipment identification numbers issued by Federal Communications Commission, and airplane registration numbers from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The company also confirmed plans to launch a research and development centre in India next year - its first outside of the US - to tap into the local talent base.

Story by Susie Harwood
Source: Net Imperative

Froogle.co.uk dispute won by Google

April 21, 2004

Google has been awarded ownership of the domain name froogle.co.uk, which was registered by a UK web hosting company the day after the world's most popular search engine launched Froogle as its product search service.

Google's apparent mistake was to launch its service on 11th December 2002 – and to seek to register the UK domain name two days later – which left a window of opportunity for LWD Internet to snap it up.

Although Google Inc. had froogle.com, froogle.org and other names, and is in the process of registering trade marks for the Froogle brand, it wanted control of the .co.uk name and got its lawyers involved.

For a while, it looked like the parties would settle: to avoid formal proceedings, a deal was struck comprising a payment by Google of £500 together with credit of £1,000 in a Google Adword account. But negotiations broke down, and no transfer was made.

So Google took its case to Nominet, the registry for all domain names ending .uk. Nominet operates a dispute resolution service similar to that provided by the World Intellectual Property Organisation for other disputes, particularly those involving .com, .net and .org domain names.

LWD argued that the registration had been in good faith, that the “timing of our domain registration and the launch of froogle.com was entirely coincidental.” But the panel didn't buy that argument, saying it stretched “credulity too far”.

Nominet panellist Keith Gymer agreed with LWD that Google had insufficient trade mark rights in the UK in the Froogle brand – which had only been launched in the US. However, he reasoned that, for the purposes of the dispute:

-- “It is not necessary that [Google] should have had sufficient Rights to pursue a trade mark infringement or a passing-off action, nor is it necessary that the Rights be in the UK".

He pointed out that the Nominet dispute Policy defines "Rights" as including, but not being limited to, rights enforceable under English law.

Concluding that LWD did register the name with some "speculative intent,” he ordered that it be transferred to Google.

David Woods, a dispute resolution specialist with Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM comments:

"The case provides a useful lesson for anyone launching a new brand. Bringing a case before Nominet costs the complainant a fee of £750 plus VAT. If lawyers are instructed, the complainant has their fees as well. These fees are not recoverable in the event of success in a Nominet or WIPO case. But disputes like this are often avoidable."

Woods points to another example, from 2000, when PDA-maker Palm announced its new MyPalm service before securing the corresponding domain name. It then had to buy mypalm.com from the owner, who had already been using it for e-mail.

"With domain names, the cost of registration is cheap. For a company with an international profile like Google's, it is advisable to obtain a range of defensive registrations before announcing any new brand. Google could have had the name for £10 if it had registered it before announcing the service."

Source: Out-Law.com

Amazon launches its search engine

April 15, 2004

Amazon's A9.com offers both a Web site and an Internet Explorer toolbar from which users can enter search terms.

The service, in test mode for now, is operated by a Palo Alto, Calif.-based subsidiary and branded separately.

Searches also can be limited to just Amazon.com products -- as well as the text of books available at Amazon.com.

A9's service relies heavily on Google, which supplies many of the search results, and Amazon's Alexa subsidiary, which provides traffic, related sites and other information on specific Web sites.

Search results also include text ads from Google's sponsored links program. Alison Diboll, an A9 spokeswoman, declined to say whether the company eventually plans to create its own search technology. She confirmed Amazon plans to use the technology both for its online store and the rest of the Web.

''Having this e-commerce search technology as a separate company is part of Amazon's continuing development from an online retailer to a technology services company,'' she said.

Unlike other Internet search tools, users sign onto A9.com with a user name and password from their regular Amazon.com account. A9 also offers an anonymous site that does not require a user name and password.

Source: Chicago Sun

Amazon improves search, one more time

October 23, 2003

Amazon.com on Thursday unveiled a new service that lets bookworms search through pages of thousands of books available on its online store.

The service, dubbed "Search Inside the Book," lets people type in any keyword and receive results for all the pages and titles of various books that contain that term. In the past, Amazon customers could search only by author name, title or keyword. The search feature works with around 120,000 titles from 190 publishers, which translates into some 33 million pages of searchable text.

The service, launched as a partnership with the publishers that are displaying the titles, has been combined with the site's standard search. "Innovation drives customer experience, and Search Inside the Book is a great example," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. "With the help of publishers, we're offering a completely new way for people to find the books they want."

Customers can choose to click on the results, which will display an excerpt with that word or phrase, and a link to more references to the keyword in the same book. These references lead to a list of excerpts from all pages on the selected book, as well as a link to view the full page. People will be able to preview relevant pages if they have a free Amazon account.

Amazon has been showing a greater interest in search, recently forming A9.com, an independent unit to develop e-commerce search technology, as an attempt to gain a foothold in the lucrative market dominated by Google and Yahoo. The new unit is charged with building a shopping search tool for internal use and for other companies. The retailer is striving to make its mark in transactions outside of the books, apparel and sporting goods sold through its online mall.


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Source: C-Net News

Amazon diversifying into search technology

September 26, 2003

Amazon.com Inc. is invading Google's turf with a new online search engine company that hopes to pluck some of the profits pouring into the rapidly growing sector.

Seattle-based Amazon has dubbed its search startup "A9" and set up offices in Palo Alto, not far from Google's Mountain View headquarters. A9 hopes to launch in October with 30 employees and grow much larger as it develops a search engine that will be licensed to other Web sites, said spokeswoman Alison Diboll. "This is part of Amazon's ongoing evolution from an online bookstore to a technology services company," Diboll said.

Unlike Google, A9 isn't trying to develop an all-purpose search engine that indexes billions of Web pages. Instead, the startup is focusing on a search engine sweet spot -- e-commerce. As more consumers become comfortable with the Internet, a growing number are using search engines to review products and compare prices. The research frequently results in online sales, prompting more advertisers to pay for prominent listings in the commercial sections of Google and other search engines.

Privately held Google won't provide details about its finances, but the company is believed to be profitable, with revenues this year expected to range from $700 million to $1 billion. Emboldened by its success, Google said Thursday it is opening its 21st office, in Madrid. Google also provided the latest evidence of its search engine's moneymaking power with a Thursday disclosure that 150,000 advertisers have paid to be included in its paid listings program.

The figure reflects an increase of 50,000 advertisers in the last six months and broadens Google's lead over Overture Services Inc., a search engine about to be acquired by Yahoo for $1.7 billion. Pasadena-based Overture boasted 95,000 advertisers in its last quarterly update in July. Those advertisers should generate about $1 billion in revenue this year, Overture spokesman Al Duncan said.

Industry-wide, search engines this year are expected to collect $2 billion for paid listings, a niche also known as "pay-for-performance" because the fees on based on people clicking on advertising links. Some analysts expect the market to swell to $8 billion annually, but other observers think the potential is being exaggerated.

"A lot of advertisers who are paying a lot of money to be listed under certain keywords are going to be wondering if they got their money's worth a year from now," predicted Chris Winfield, president of a Web site design firm that helps businesses get ranked higher in search engines.

Amazon hasn't disclosed how much it is prepared to spend on A9. A Google spokesman declined to comment on Amazon's expansion. The two companies have long enjoyed a good working relationship; Amazon even uses Google's search engine on its home page.

But business relationships have been changing as more companies enter the search engine fray. For instance, the once-close ties between Yahoo and Google have been fraying as they compete for advertising revenues. Yahoo has been using Google's search engine on its site since June 2000, but recently has been de-emphasizing the Google technology as it builds more resources internally.

It's unclear how much overlap there will be between A9's and Google's search engines. Diboll declined to answer questions Thursday about how A9's search engine might work. Amazon decided to launch the new search engine company in Silicon Valley because the area is home to many of the sector's pioneers, Diboll said.

Besides Google, previous search engine leaders AltaVista and Inktomi also have Silicon Valley roots. Sunnyvale-based Yahoo bought Inktomi earlier this year and is about to take over AltaVista as part of the Overture deal. Two of the Web's leading shopping-comparison companies, Shopping.com and NexTag, also are located in the Bay Area.


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Source: Silicon Valley

Google Licenses Web Search And Sponsored Links To Amazon.com

April 3rd, 2003

Amazon.com signed a multi-year deal to make Google Inc.'s Web-searching technology and sponsored links available on the Internet retail site.

Terms weren't disclosed and officials of both companies were unavaliable early Thursday. Amazon said in a press release that Google's sponsored links and Web-search functions will become available on Amazon.com in the next several months, giving customers the ability "to conduct research across the Web."

Amazon noted that some sponsored links are now available on some parts of its site. Amazon said partner Web sites of closely held Google, Mountain View, Calif., have opportunities for generating revenue through sponsored links from Google's worldwide network of more than 100,000 advertisers.

Story by Tim Paradis
Source: Dow Jones Newswires

Combine Google and Amazon Web services with anacubis

January 21, 2004

Internet search engine Google will sell advertisements on European price comparison site Kelkoo.

Google will provide "contextual" ads to the shopping site (http://www.kelkoo.com), so that small text ads are automatically generated to match the product or service a user is looking for.

Privately held Google, which is planning a highly anticipated initial public offering, according to people familiar with the situation, has its own shopping site, called Froogle (http://www.froogle.com), which is seen as a potential competitor to Kelkoo.

But the deal announced on Wednesday suggests the company is taking it slowly with Froogle in Europe. Froogle currently pulls in price information from sites with the ".com" suffix, which are mostly in the United States.

"The company has nothing to announce with regard to Froogle, which is still a product in beta form in the U.S.," a Google spokeswoman said.

Google has expanded rapidly in Europe by signing advertising deals with publishers and establishing ad sales staff in seven countries.

It has had few qualms in the past about competing with its business partners. Products like Froogle and Google News have shifted Google from a pure search engine toward a one-stop shop for Web content, a niche dominated by its customer Yahoo.

Kelkoo has 27 million monthly European users, making it the third-largest European e-commerce site after Amazon (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and eBay (EBAY.O: Quote, Profile, Research) , according to measurement firm Nielsen NetRatings.

Google places ads from 150,000 worldwide advertisers through its AdWords program, ranging from small shops to large corporations.

Source: Reuters

Froogle creating controversy

January 21, 2004

Internet search engine Google will sell advertisements on European price comparison site Kelkoo.

Google will provide "contextual" ads to the shopping site (http://www.kelkoo.com), so that small text ads are automatically generated to match the product or service a user is looking for.

Privately held Google, which is planning a highly anticipated initial public offering, according to people familiar with the situation, has its own shopping site, called Froogle (http://www.froogle.com), which is seen as a potential competitor to Kelkoo.

But the deal announced on Wednesday suggests the company is taking it slowly with Froogle in Europe. Froogle currently pulls in price information from sites with the ".com" suffix, which are mostly in the United States.

"The company has nothing to announce with regard to Froogle, which is still a product in beta form in the U.S.," a Google spokeswoman said.

Google has expanded rapidly in Europe by signing advertising deals with publishers and establishing ad sales staff in seven countries.

It has had few qualms in the past about competing with its business partners. Products like Froogle and Google News have shifted Google from a pure search engine toward a one-stop shop for Web content, a niche dominated by its customer Yahoo.

Kelkoo has 27 million monthly European users, making it the third-largest European e-commerce site after Amazon (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and eBay (EBAY.O: Quote, Profile, Research) , according to measurement firm Nielsen NetRatings.

Google places ads from 150,000 worldwide advertisers through its AdWords program, ranging from small shops to large corporations.

Source: Reuters

European shopping site advertising through Google ads

January 21, 2004

Internet search engine Google will sell advertisements on European price comparison site Kelkoo.

Google will provide "contextual" ads to the shopping site (http://www.kelkoo.com), so that small text ads are automatically generated to match the product or service a user is looking for.

Privately held Google, which is planning a highly anticipated initial public offering, according to people familiar with the situation, has its own shopping site, called Froogle (http://www.froogle.com), which is seen as a potential competitor to Kelkoo.

But the deal announced on Wednesday suggests the company is taking it slowly with Froogle in Europe. Froogle currently pulls in price information from sites with the ".com" suffix, which are mostly in the United States.

"The company has nothing to announce with regard to Froogle, which is still a product in beta form in the U.S.," a Google spokeswoman said.

Google has expanded rapidly in Europe by signing advertising deals with publishers and establishing ad sales staff in seven countries.

It has had few qualms in the past about competing with its business partners. Products like Froogle and Google News have shifted Google from a pure search engine toward a one-stop shop for Web content, a niche dominated by its customer Yahoo.

Kelkoo has 27 million monthly European users, making it the third-largest European e-commerce site after Amazon (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and eBay (EBAY.O: Quote, Profile, Research) , according to measurement firm Nielsen NetRatings.

Google places ads from 150,000 worldwide advertisers through its AdWords program, ranging from small shops to large corporations.

Source: Reuters

Overture paid search pays off for Yahoo

May 16, 2003

Nearly one fifth of Yahoo's overall first-quarter revenue grew out of its partnership with Overture Services, a provider of paid search listings, the Web portal disclosed in a securities filing Thursday.

In a measure of the alliance's weight on Yahoo's earnings, the portal reported income of about $54 million from its partnership with Overture. That's 19 percent of the total revenue logged for the three months ended March 31 and more than double the roughly $23 million, or 12 percent of total revenue reported in the same period of 2002.

Overture provides payments to Yahoo for displaying its advertiser-sponsored search listings atop results pages. Each time Web surfers visiting Yahoo click on one of the sponsored links, Overture collects a fee from the advertiser behind the link and shares that revenue with Yahoo.

Yahoo has benefited heartily from the deal. In April, it reported its fourth consecutive quarter of profitability and its second consecutive quarter of growth in advertising revenue, partly because of cost-free revenue from Overture. Yahoo's recent filing illustrates how much influence the pay-per-click search provider holds with Yahoo. Without the reported $54 million in fees, Yahoo's profit of $46.7 million for the first quarter might have suffered.

As a result, industry analysts have speculated that Yahoo will eventually build its own paid search business and slowly edge out Overture, which has a contract with the portal until April 2005 with an option to extend the deal to 2011. Others have speculated that Yahoo might purchase Overture with its surplus cash of $750 million, a short-term interest-free loan it secured earlier this year.

But Safa Rashtchy, senior analyst with U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, said Yahoo benefits so nicely from the Overture relationship because it does not have to assume Overture's costs. The Web portal only reaps the rewards of revenue.

"This dependance on Overture for profits...is an indication of...the risk it will face if it were to build (such a service) in-house, since the level of monetization, and hence profits, will fall off sharply," Rashtchy wrote in an e-mail to CNET News.com.

For the first quarter, Yahoo parsed revenue into three categories: marketing services, fees and listings. Marketing services, which encompasses online advertising and the paid search deal with Overture, jumped 38 percent year over year to $190 million. Executives said this revenue line got a boost from Overture and from traditional advertisers. Yahoo Chief Terry Semel said last month that excluding payments from Overture, marketing services revenue increased by a "double-digit percentage" over the same period last year.

In the filing, Yahoo acknowledged its reliance on Overture for revenue and highlighted some of the risk involved with its recent acquisition of Inktomi, an algorithmic search service that competes with Google. It said that by owning Inktomi, Yahoo is now in greater competition with AltaVista and Fast Search & Transfer, which are now both owned by Overture.

"We also generate a significant amount of revenue from our search and directory capabilities through an advertiser’s purchase of an enhanced placement in our results," the filing said. "If we are unable to provide search and directory services which generate significant traffic to our Web sites, to continue to secure an arrangement with a third party provider such as Overture on terms which are acceptable to us, or we are unable to develop our own ability to provide this service, our revenue could significantly decline.


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By Stefanie Olsen
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Lycos phasing out its generic portal

February 11, 2004

Lycos said over time it will phase out its generic media portal business and focus instead on subscription offerings such as online dating services and Web site publishing.

Spanish-American online media firm Terra Lycos said on Wednesday its Lycos Web portal business will shift to a subscription-based service from a generalist online outlet in order to boost revenues.

The restructuring is expected to result in job cuts of up to 20 percent, the company said. Lycos said it has a staff of 418 in the United States, where the cuts and restructuring will take place.

The money-losing Terra Lycos has been hit particularly hard by the downturn in the online advertising market that followed the 2000 implosion of the dot-com bubble.

The company's strategy to convert visitors to its site into paying customers has begun to pay off for a variety of Internet firms who once relied entirely on advertising.

Terra Lycos is 72 percent-owned by Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica.

Source: Yahoo News

Ask Jeeves buys portals Excite and IWon.com

March 4, 2004

Online search engine Ask Jeeves Inc. is paying $343 million US for a family of popular websites that includes Excite.com and IWon.com, bulking up the company as it vies to wrest market share away from industry leaders Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc.

Under the deal announced Thursday, Emeryville, Calif.-based Ask Jeeves will double in size with the acquisition of Interactive Search Holdings, a privately held company in Irvington, N.Y., with about 200 employees and more than $100 million in annual revenue.

The Interactive Search operations will remain in New York after the takeover closes in the second quarter, with most of the workers, including company co-founders Bill Daugherty and Jonas Steinman, expected to be retained.

The price consists of $150 million in cash and 9.3 million shares of Ask Jeeves' stock, which closed Wednesday at $20.71. Ask Jeeves announced the deal before the stock market opened Thursday.

Launched in 1999, Interactive Search's best-known properties are the sweepstakes site IWon, which gives away $10,000 a day to attract traffic, and Excite, which was bought for $10 million in 2001 when the site was auctioned in bankruptcy court. The company's other sites include My Way, which waged an anti-Yahoo marketing campaign in late 2002.

Interactive Search - better known as The Excite Network - ran the 12th busiest group of websites in January, attracting a total of 23.8 million unique visitors in January, according to comScore Media Metrix, a research firm. Ask Jeeves ranked as the 26th most popular destination with 15.6 million unique visitors.

Based on the combined audience of 39 million, Ask Jeeves's collection of websites would become the eighth most popular properties on the Internet, ranking just ahead of Amazon.com, according to comScore's latest traffic figures.

Just as importantly to Ask Jeeves, the Interactive Search properties processed 700 million search requests during the fourth quarter, slightly more than the 680 million search queries handled by Ask Jeeves.

Based on those figures, Ask Jeeves's share of the search market should climb to about seven per cent, estimated Steve Berkowitz, the company's chief executive officer. That will still leave the company well behind search engine leaders Google and Yahoo, which own market shares of 35 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively.

The volume of search requests is important because search engines generate much of their revenue from text-based ads that are tied to the words entered in the query box. Businesses pay when their ad links are clicked upon, so search engine profits generally rise along their traffic.

"The foundation of a great business on the web is search," Berkowitz said in an interview. "This deal should really enhance our competitive position."

After losing $699 million during its first six years in business, Ask Jeeves has bounced back from the depths of the dot-com crash on the strength of search-powered advertising. Most of the ads, ironically, are delivered to Ask Jeeves sites by Google, which shares in the revenue.

Ask Jeeves posted a $26-million profit last year on revenue of $107 million and expects its operating profit this year to roughly double, boosted by the acquisition.

The company said Thursday it couldn't accurately estimate its projected net income this year because the Interactive Search deal will likely result in special accounting charges.

Source: Canada.com

StepUp launches its new shopping search engine

August 11, 2004

Yesterday, StepUp launched their new local shopping engine, presently in its beta version.

On StepUp.com, web shoppers can easily find popular retail products near their current location.

What's more, StepUp.com offers merchants a way to easily list their products online, driving web shoppers to their physical locations. StepUp.com combines the benefits of online shopping with local commerce, providing consumers and local merchants a powerful new tool.

“We founded StepUp.com because local shopping is broken, and our mission is to fix it. Currently, half of the 80 million web shoppers in the U.S. prefer to purchase offline, but the Yellow Pages, the most-used local shopping resource, only list generic categories and force customers to call around in order to find specific products.

This makes local shopping tedious at best,” said Kendall Fargo, President and CEO of StepUp.com.

“At the same time, businesses have been frustrated trying to promote their local store inventory to the growing number of online shoppers. For those merchants, we developed simple patent-pending Internet sales tools, making it easy for them to drive new ‘walk-in’ business from local customers who use the web.”

StepUp.com’s sales tools include a client that automatically uploads inventory information continually from QuickBooks, the leading financial management product from Intuit Inc., so businesses have a hands-off way to drive sales from Internet shoppers even if they do not currently have a web presence.

Businesses can easily register as member stores and will be able to begin merchandising their products immediately.

Source: Search Engine Journal

Yahoo launches interactive search tool for online shopping

October 17, 2003

Yahoo Inc. launched an interactive search tool in its online shopping website Thursday, which will enable consumers to quickly and easily find personalized product recommendations via an individual preference ranking technology.

The tool, SmartSort, is currently available across nine consumer electronics categories in Yahoo Shopping and will be integrated into additional categories through the end of the year, the Internet media firm said. "We have specifically designed SmartSort to assist consumers who are in the research phase of the shopping process," said Rob Solomon, vice president of Yahoo Shopping.

According to Yahoo, its SmartSort helps narrow the search for a specific product by taking a broad category like digital cameras, which has hundreds of choices, and asking a user to rank criteria (i.e. price, brand, optical zoom) according to importance. SmartSort then instantly recommends the top 10 models based on the selected criteria.

To further expedite the search, Yahoo said, all product recommendations remain on one interface and are instantly refreshed when the consumer adjusts criteria "sliders" or scales, which either place more or less value on a specific product attribute.

Yahoo said its SmartSort tool is now available in Yahoo Shopping for the categories of digital cameras, MP3 players, personal digital assistants, desktop computers, notebook computers, printers, mobile phones, televisions, and DVD players. Yahoo Shopping is the third largest multi-category commerce destination on the Web, according to an August report by Nielsen / NetRatings.


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Source: China Daily

Google and MSN sending consumers to shopping sites

Google and MSN sending consumers to shopping sites: "While Google provides the highest percentage of all search engine traffic going to shopping sites, MSN Search drives the highest proportion of its own search engine traffic to shopping sites, Hitwise says in its recently released Search Engine Report.
Google sent 4.73% of all search engine traffic to shopping sites in April, compared to 2.73% from Yahoo Search and 0.66% from MSN Search, Hitwise says.
Hitwise includes in its shopping site category �classified� sites such as DineOutFreeToday.com and YourGiftCards.com.
The rest of the top 10 search engines in terms of their share of all traffic going to shopping sites in April:
Ask Jeeves, 0.22%
My Web Search, 0.16%
iWon, 0.15%
Dogpile, 0.12%
Google Image Search, 0.09%
Excite, 0.06%
Alta Vista, 0.05%
MSN gets bragging rights, however, to having the highest proportion of its own search traffic that goes to shopping sites.
Of all the searches that took place at MSN, 10.07%, of users went to shopping sites, edging out Google, at 9.26%, and Yahoo Search, at 8.85%, Hitwise says.
Source: Internet Retailer"

Google, Yahoo and Kelkoo preparing for the shopping war

September 12, 2003

If we are to believe some experts, shopping will be the arena for the next search engine war. That is probably a slight exaggeration.

Nevertheless, surfers seems to be loosing some of their inhibitions as regards online shopping (giving away credit card information and all that), so a well established shopping search engine may bring in quite a lot of money through advertising and paid listings. Yahoo! is testing out a new shopping search engine at products.yahoo.com. It is different from the old Yahoo! shopping section more or less in the same way as a directory edited by humans is different from a search engine that gathers results automatically.

The dividing line is a bit blurred though, as shopping search engines often rely on automatic XML or spreadsheet feeds from merchants, as do comparison shopping directories. However, as Yahoo! puts it "The Yahoo! Product Search engine also crawls the web pages of other, non-affiliated merchants to include their relevant products..." In any case, the way it presents results makes it look more like a search engine. Google's Froogle shopping search engine also offer a mix of product information submitted by merchants and information gathered by Google's search engine spiders.

Google has recently made some small changes to Froogle, which is still in its beta test phase. They have added a left hand column giving the user access to forms and links that lets him or her sort listings according to price and gain access to the relevant directory category. European Kelkoo has now presented a new revised version of its new search engine. This is actually also a test version, but Kelkoo is nevertheless using the new search engine by default at its UK site.

The entry page has become a little more complex than in the previous version, as it now includes a directory structure and a few selected products. The search function is just as easy as in Froogle! and Yahoo!, however. Enter your product and Kelkoo makes a good guess at what you are looking for. The search result pages includes a pull down menu that let you narrow your search to a relevant category.

The winner of this race will be the company that offers an easy to understand interface and highly relevant results. And so far both Kelkoo, Yahoo! and Froogle is counting on simplicity.


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Source: Pandia

Shopping.com files for an IPO

March 24, 2004

Shopping.com plans to use IPO proceeds for general corporate purposes, including possibly funding acquisitions of businesses, products or technologies, according to the filing.

Shopping.com Ltd., which runs Web sites like epinions.com, filed with U.S. regulators on Tuesday for an initial public offering worth an estimated $75 million.

Shopping.com did not provide a price or amount of shares for the IPO, but the details are expected in future Securities and Exchange Commission (news - web sites) filings.

The online shopping comparisons company, which runs Web sites including (http://www.shopping.com) and (http://www.epinions.com), provides free services for consumers.

Shopping.com said it receives referral fees from merchants and other listing providers who get customers from Shopping.com Web sites.

Entities like Bertelsmann DealTime Holding and others affiliated with German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG (news - web sites) (BERT.UL) have a 14.37 stake in Shopping.com, according to the SEC filing.

Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse First Boston are to underwrite the offering along with Deutsche Bank and Piper Jaffray.

An Israeli company, Shopping.com has U.S. headquarters in Brisbane, California. The company said it had applied to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol "SHOP".

Source: Yahoo News

Shopping Search Engines Starting To Click

July 18, 2003

In the early days of the supposed dot-com revolution, online retailers promised to save you a trip to the mall. Now a crop of new services promises to save you a trip to even those Web sites.

In what has become another lucrative niche on the Web, price-comparison shopping sites, also known as shopping-search sites, are simplifying life for bargain hunters — and making a tidy profit in the process. "We're Consumer Reports and the Yellow Pages on steroids," said Iggy Sanlo, chief revenue officer for privately held DealTime.com Ltd. It's the No. 1 shopping-search site, with 6% of the market in Web site visits, says researcher Hitwise.com.

"Shopping search is the nexus of search and e-commerce," said Sanlo. Buoyed by the key holiday season, it was profitable in the second half of 2002. DealTime, Pricegrabber.com and MySimon are among shopping-comparison services that say they're profitable. And while the all-important holiday shopping season is six months away, many merchants are already factoring these sites into their retail plans.

Think of it as shopping in reverse. Instead of clicking through a morass of retail Web sites, online merchants come to the consumer. The shopper types in what he's looking for, and gets a list of vendors. The sites often compute sales tax and shipping prices, and show how other shoppers rated the product. From there, the user picks one and is taken to the checkout area of the seller's site, which pays a click-through referral fee. Some sellers pay extra to be listed higher as a "featured merchant."

Such sites have been around for years. But consumers, who don't often have personal shoppers offline, are only starting to get used to the idea of virtual aides for online buying.

Shopping-search sites are often lumped into the $1.4 billion paid-search market with sites such as Google, so it's hard to measure their growth. But according to researcher I.think Inc., nearly 60% of online shoppers start at so-called aggregators — which include shopping-search sites, portals and big retailers like Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) — rather than individual stores. And half of those shoppers use search engines or shopping-search sites. The appeal to consumers is clear. But search sites are also a marketing deal for merchants.

According to a May study by Forrester Research, shopping-search sites have become the Web's fastest growing marketing tool, as measured by the number of merchants using them. Twenty-eight percent of sellers use them, and 86% found them to be very effective. That beats banner and pop-up ads, e-mail promotions and deals with shopping portals. Smaller merchants can go head-to-head against giant rivals without the huge marketing budget of a national brand. And since buyers can do all their product and merchant research on the site, most who click through one of the listed prices are ready to buy.

"We're winnowing out the browsers," Sanlo said. "We only send the shoppers." Most of those shoppers come for the bargains, analysts say. The sites make plain which merchants offer the best deal and can alert users when an object of desire falls within reach.

That could squeeze online retailers' already tight margins. "The classic argument about the Internet is that improved transparency drives down price," said Matthew Berk, an analyst with Jupiter Research. "The more visibility you have into pricing, and the easier it is — literally, in a single click — to go to one merchant vs. another, the more price is a consideration."

Price isn't the only issue. Kamran Pourzanjani, president of Pricegrabber.com, says that despite the site's name, 70% of the site's users don't click on the lowest price. Most look at the seller's feedback from other users and often favor better-known vendors. "People don't have a problem paying a little more for a recognized name or highly rated vendor," he said. That's especially true of the site's business users, who make up 55% of Pricegrabber's audience. They use the site to cut costs, but can't afford to deal with late shipments or lousy service. DealTime kicks off merchants who don't maintain ratings of two stars (of a possible five), and Pricegrabber.com has booted dishonest vendors.

These, by no accident, are often sellers with the lowest price. Pourzanjani won't detail sales or earnings for the privately held firm, but says it's profitable and is growing more so. Despite starting with a small pool of angel investment, it's already bringing in enough to pour money back into better technology, advertising and more staff. Still, comparison-shopping sites face e-tail giants such as Amazon.com, which also offer a range of products through a bevy of outside vendors, plus better name recognition and marketing muscle.

Alternative To Amazon, EBay
"Amazon and eBay are still larger than any of the aggregators," said Nielsen/NetRatings analyst Lisa Strand. "And when people think of online shopping, often eBay and Amazon are the first names that come to mind." Another challenge is e-commerce portals, such as Yahoo's Inc. (YHOO) shopping site. Like DealTime and Pricegrabber, these multistorefront virtual malls offer quick product searches and, in some cases, vendor comparisons.

Big retailers, shopping portals and shopping-search sites may not seem to be direct rivals at first, Strand admits. They appeal to different types of shoppers and have distinct business models. They don't even act like competitors. Pricegrabber advertises on Google, for instance, and counts eBay as a featured vendor.

But as time goes on, they're copying many of each other's features and vying for the same audience. Standing out will become even more important, Strand says. She won't have to convince CNet Networks Inc. (CNET)-owned MySimon, ranked by Hitwise as the No. 6 shopping-search site.

MySimon aims to stand out as a "warm and familiar environment," said Tom Jones, CNet's senior vice president for shopping services. The effort includes the friendly face of its namesake mascot, Simon, and reviews and other content from CNet's other sites. That's helped it, more than any other site, attract women shoppers, a prized retail constituency. This month it's beefing up its technology by adding soon-to-be-announced features. It also plans to promote the site more heavily through its network of news and review sites.

CNet also runs comparison-shop site Shopping.com, targeted to a different, more technical audience. The firm doesn't break out financials for its units, but officials say MySimon is profitable. General-purpose search engines are dipping their toes in the market, too. Google is tweaking Froogle, a product-centered version of its search engine. It lets users search printed mail-order catalogs scanned and indexed by its system.

But Jupiter's Berk doesn't see search engines taking the place of shopping sites soon. What makes them good for searches — finding a needle in a haystack — makes them ill-suited for broad product and vendor comparisons. New entrants, however, could pose a bigger problem. It doesn't take much money to get a shopping-search site up and running, which could prove a big headache for firms that have spent millions to join the big leagues.

Many have already turned to print and online ads to build their brands. Though setting up a Web site is easy, gaining critical mass is the real challenge. As DealTime's Sanlo points out, the market is a virtual "pet cemetery" of failed brands, including RUSure and Productopia. "If it were that easy, AOL, MSN, AltaVista, EarthLink, ATT, Excite and iWon wouldn't outsource their shopping searches," he said.


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Source: Investors.com


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Shopping.com files for an IPO

Shopping.com plans to use IPO proceeds for general corporate purposes, including possibly funding acquisitions of businesses, products or technologies, according to the filing.

Shopping.com Ltd., which runs Web sites like epinions.com, filed with U.S. regulators on Tuesday for an initial public offering worth an estimated $75 million.

Shopping.com did not provide a price or amount of shares for the IPO, but the details are expected in future Securities and Exchange Commission (news - web sites) filings.

The online shopping comparisons company, which runs Web sites including (http://www.shopping.com) and (http://www.epinions.com), provides free services for consumers.

Shopping.com said it receives referral fees from merchants and other listing providers who get customers from Shopping.com Web sites.

Entities like Bertelsmann DealTime Holding and others affiliated with German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG (news - web sites) (BERT.UL) have a 14.37 stake in Shopping.com, according to the SEC filing.

Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse First Boston are to underwrite the offering along with Deutsche Bank and Piper Jaffray.

An Israeli company, Shopping.com has U.S. headquarters in Brisbane, California. The company said it had applied to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol "SHOP".

Source: Yahoo News

Kelkoo shopping site bought by Yahoo


Kelkoo, which has been profitable for more than a year, has long been tipped by European bankers as a potential candidate for an initial public offering or a sale to a company such as Yahoo or Google.

Yahoo Inc. said on Friday it agreed to buy European price comparison Web site Kelkoo SA for about 475 million euros ($575 million) in cash to expand its range of Internet commerce portals.

The deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter, helps Yahoo beef itself up in overseas markets to compete with Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp's MSN unit in Web search technology.

Yahoo has already bought Overture and Inktomi to strengthen its Internet search operations. ``Commerce has emerged as a key component of search,'' said Yahoo Chief Executive Terry Semel in a statement on Friday.

Google, the No. 1 Internet search engine, has developed its own comparison shopping site Froogle, which is still at the testing stage. It was not immediately clear if Google's plans to sell advertising on Kelkoo, revealed in January, would be affected.

Yahoo, which is recovering from a slump in online ad sales, said the cash payment for up to 100 percent of Kelkoo's share capital could be subject to adjustments.

Yahoo said it did not expect to reduce the 250-strong workforce at Kelkoo, which will become a subsidiary of Yahoo. Kelkoo Chief Executive and founder Pierre Chappaz will continue to run the company's operations.

The service, which allows users to compare prices for online purchases, has 27 million monthly European users, making it the continent's third-largest e-commerce site.

Founded in France in 1999, Kelkoo has since merged with or acquired several companies in the United Kingdom, Spain, Norway and France.

Source: Money Central MSN

Google and MSN sending consumers to shopping sites


While Google provides the highest percentage of all search engine traffic going to shopping sites, MSN Search drives the highest proportion of its own search engine traffic to shopping sites, Hitwise says in its recently released Search Engine Report.

Google sent 4.73% of all search engine traffic to shopping sites in April, compared to 2.73% from Yahoo Search and 0.66% from MSN Search, Hitwise says.

Hitwise includes in its shopping site category “classified” sites such as DineOutFreeToday.com and YourGiftCards.com.

The rest of the top 10 search engines in terms of their share of all traffic going to shopping sites in April:

Ask Jeeves, 0.22%
My Web Search, 0.16%
iWon, 0.15%
Dogpile, 0.12%
Google Image Search, 0.09%
Excite, 0.06%
Alta Vista, 0.05%

MSN gets bragging rights, however, to having the highest proportion of its own search traffic that goes to shopping sites.

Of all the searches that took place at MSN, 10.07%, of users went to shopping sites, edging out Google, at 9.26%, and Yahoo Search, at 8.85%, Hitwise says.

Source: Internet Retailer