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Jun 27, 2008 - Spotting things you'll want to see today.

Google data now available for fun or profit
Google Ad Planner

Google opened its data vault not once but twice this week, introducing the Google Ad Planner as well as an enhanced Google Trends that allows consumers to see web traffic estimates. Both products rely on data from Google searches, the Google Toolbar, opt-in participants using Google Analytics and other 'third party' sources.

Trends will now operate alongside Compete and Amazon's Search Engine Roundtable embraced the new Trends and provided examples of how it can benefit online marketers. Other bloggers were not as welcoming. Conversion Rater provided an example of distortions caused by the Google Analytics data. Bruce Clay was one of several bloggers who questioned Google's use of data and wondered why stats for Google's own sites were not reported. Several bloggers are holding out more promise for the anticipated Mozilla product revealed by Techcrunch.

The Ad Planner will compete directly with services like Comscore and Hitwise. Wall Street immediately devalued Comscore by 23% in one day despite Silicon Alley Insider's report on Comscore's confidence that ad agencies would not quickly adopt Ad Planner. Search Engine Roundtable was an early invitee to use the service and provided screenshots along with a favorable impression and Search Engine Land provided an overview of its capabilities. eBarndz was quick to point out the perception problems of Google being a major ad supplier as well as a media data source. ClickZ spoke to industry insiders who simply felt that the Ad Planner just doesn't measure up against the competition, yet.

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What are friends for?

SocialMedia's goal is to create socially oriented advertising that targets consumers and then recommends a specific friend that they can spend their money with. They will integrate data from social networks so that, for example, an advertisement for the movie 'Hancock' will be embedded with the name of a friend who might also enjoy the movie. Alexander van Elsas was one of the first bloggers to ask if SocialMedia's 'Friendrank' system crosses a privacy line that will harm the project. Broadstuff took it a bit further, invoking the lessons that Facebook learned from the Beacon disaster and claiming that social objects just don't translate to advertising success. The service is opt-out (as was Beacon) and the advertisements will be delivered outside of the social networks, two problems that SocialTimes predicted will be at the center of a lively debate on the future of social advertising.

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MySpace redesigned

Hopelessly cluttered by unplanned growth, MySpace last week unveiled a highly anticipated redesign, assisted by Adaptive Path. Web Monkey provided an interview with project leader Ryan Freitas about the objective of paring down the sensory overload. e-Consultancy made a comparison of the old and the new and praised the effort to streamline a site that is, by definition, given to entropy. A key business objective, revealed by co-founder Tom Anderson in an interview with Mark Evans is to provide a new customizable profile page that can be integrated with outside data to function as a web start page for users.

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Tools: New and/or improved

Radar Screen: Microsoft and semantic search engine Powerset

Microsoft may have taken a first step in an effort to spend its way past Google and Yahoo by purchasing semantic search pioneer Powerset.


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