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Is the "Long Tail" just a Tall Tale?

A new article/study by Harvard Business School Professor Anita Elberse challenges the validity of the Silicon Valley mantra/theory that the Internet created a new "long tail" of demand for niche products that would ultimately undermine and overwhelm the offline trend towards "big hits."  

  • Thank you to Lee Gomes of the Wall Street Journal whose excellent article: "Study Refutes Niche Theory Spawned by Web" brought the new Elberse research to my attention.
    • From Mr. Gomes article: "Prof. Elberse looked at data for online video rentals and song purchases, and discovered that the patterns by which people shop online are essentially the same as the ones from offline. Not only do hits and blockbusters remain every bit as important online, but the evidence suggests that the Web is actually causing their role to grow, not shrink."

Why this is such important new research is that much of the Silicon Valley 'pixie dust' that fuels so many of the new business models involving social networking, crowdsourcing, etc. is predicated on the "Long Tail" book/theory by Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson.

eBay held accountable for being a 'fence' for counterfeit goods

eBay was just found guilty, again, of being a "fence" for counterfeit goods, but nevertheless remains unrepentant vowing to fight against "uncompetitive commercial practices at the expense of consumer choice."

J. Edgar Google: Information Is Power + No Accountability

Kudos to Danny Dover's tremendous seomoz.org post: "The evil side of Google? Exploring Google's user data collection" where he comprehensively assembles all the types of personally-sensitive-information that Google routinely collects on Internet and Google users.

  • Mr. Dover also exhibits exceptional clarity of thought in describing Google as "first and foremost a data company" despite conventional wisdom that describes Google as a search engine company or despite Google's description of themselves...as a technology company. 

Why is J. Edgar Hoover/J. Edgar Google an apt analogy? 

Google unfairly represents AdWords as an "auction" process; it is not

Google unfairly represents that it competitively conducts 'auctions' for keywords in AdWords; Google even has an "auction policy." However, if you look up the definition of "auction" one finds it is the public sale of property to the highest bidder

  • The big problem here is that Google's auction does not sell property to the highest bidder.

If Google were interested in fair representation and truth in advertising, Google would represent Adwords as Google's algorithmic secret selection process or GASSP.

  • That's because Adwords is a really a mysterious 'Black Box' system, that is secret, non-neutral, non-transparent, non-auditable, and non-appealable.
  • Google probably thinks its "unfair" to expect the world's leading Internet advertiser to respect fair representation and truth in advertising laws...

Great piece on academic's concerns about Google's influence -- in Boston Globe

Drake Bennett of Boston Globe did a great job of highlighting some fresh new concerns about Google's extraordinary influence that I had not heard before -- see "Stopping Google."

  • Here's the conclusion of the piece in order to encourage you to read the whole article:
    • "But there is a reason "Google" has become a verb: Google has so outpaced its rivals that it has begun to look like a monopoly, a necessity where users have only one real option. And the more we come to rely on Google, the more Google may have to listen to the rest of us."

 

 

Google Adwords discriminating against small businesses for slow loading?

In thinking about my recent post about how Google Adwords now formally discriminate against slower-loading sites by raising their minimum bidding price, I realized that small businesses and the "long tail" are probably most hurt the most by Google's new "quality score" policy.

  • As I previously explained, Google has a subjective, non-transparent, non-auditable, or non-appealable "quality score" variable whose purpose is to maximize Google's revenue -- not to award the keyword to the highest bidder.

This new Google policy discriminates most heavily against small businesses because they:

  • Have relatively the least resources, time and ability to technologically redesign their website to adapt to Google's arbitrary changes; and
  • Are least able to afford adapting their business model to Google's favor -- away from slower-loading display ads -- to faster-loading search ads.

Bottom line: Google is well aware that small or "long tail" businesses, for all practical purposes, have no other comparable choice for online advertising, so they believe they can safely exert their market power here with impunity. 

Google Adwords not neutral -- charging more for slow loading sites

Google AdWords announced a new net neutrality double-standard that may also be an anti-competitive practice, in that Google will start discriminating against slower-loading websites by charging them higher prices. 

Google CEO: 'The One Sentence Manager' accountability system

I had to chuckle when Google CEO Dr. Schmidt publicly explained his management system for Google last week -- I 've dubbed it -- 'The One Sentence Manager.'  

  • In a speech to Washington insiders at the Economic Club where Dr. Schmidt exhorted how the world could learn a lot from Google's "scalable values"...
    • Dr. Schmidt actually admitted how hard it was to get Googlers to be accountable to his minimalist automated reporting requirement of writing a one-sentence summary by email of what that person did that week.
      • He further explained that his automated system would "harass" the people with ever increasingly funny prods -- until they complied.

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows one of my pet beefs about Google is how completely unaccountable Google is and how they go out of their way to remain unaccountable to anyone or anything.

Google not so neutral in blocking Paypal from Google's App engine

More evidence comes to the light that the "neutral-ier-than-thou" Google does not in fact act 'neutrally' on the net itself. Reportedly Google has blocked eBay's PayPal offering from Google's app engine, according to both Techcrunch's Michael Arrington and ZDNet's Garrett Rogers.

  • Google's Checkout service conveniently is a competitive offering to eBay's Paypal.

It will be most interesting to see if Google's poodles in the public interest community (i.e. Public Knowlege, Free-Press, Moveon.org, etc.) will jump up and down and scream crisis that a dominant Internet access point, (Google's search engine with ~80% revenue share), is acting anti-competitively and violating the FCC's net neutrality principles, which in fact apply to Google (Check out the actual text in Principle #4).

  • I won't be holding my breath.  

It would also be interesting to see how Google's poodles spin that this Google content blocking is any different from the instances that they have claimed... threaten... the very future of... the Internet!!!!   DUNDUNDUN....DONNNNE! 

What's Google got to hide? Google's CEO Schmidt ducks questions from the real free press

I couldn't help to notice yesterday that Google CEO Schmidt didn't take any questions from reporters who were in attendance or meet with the reporter pool afterwards, which is customary for speaking venues like Dr. Schmidt's speech Monday at the Economic Club of Washington.

What's Google got to hide in Washington?

  • Could it be that Google does not think that questions of a leading corporate CEO, who is now Chairman of the New America Foundation think tank concerning: antitrust, privacy, consumer protection, good government, transparency, openness, tax, net neutrality, and broadband Universal Service -- are not considered legitimate questions or fair game in Washington?
  • Do public questions of public leaders seeking ambitious changes in public policy and public discourse, not warrant an open forum for questions from a free press in a democracy?

Bottom line: It appears the only kind of "free press" that Google embraces is its advocacy group ally that calls itself FreePress, which is the operation which de facto runs point for Google's net neutrality public policy agenda in Washington.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths