Rumor Mill: Google Planning Second Life Rival?

This is one of two Google rumors that surfaced over the weekend–the other one is here.

Apparently Arizona State University sent out invitations to students that mention a super-secret, sign-an-NDA-or-else, social networking project.

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A few teasers have led most to conclude this must be a Google project:

  1. “a  major internet company” – yep, that sounds like Google.
  2. A questions asking if you have a Gmail account – hmm, I doubt MSFT or Yahoo would be asking that.
  3. Google already has Google earth and 3D modeling software.

In case you need further convincing that Google is behind this super-secret project, Google Operating System offers this compelling but circumstantial evidence.

Rumor Mill: Google Announcing New APIs?

Michael Arrington seems pretty confident in his sources and is suggesting Google will open up on November 5th.

On November 5 we’ll likely see third party iGoogle gadgets that leverage Orkut’s social graph information – the most basic implementation of what Google is planning. From there we may see a lot more – such as the ability to pull Orkut data outside of Google and into third party applications via the APIs. And Google is also considering allowing third parties to join the party at the other end of the platform – meaning other social networks (think Bebo, Friendster, Twitter, Digg and thousands of others) to give access to their user data to developers through those same APIs.

Eyetracking on Google Universal SERPs

AT SMX Advanced in June, someone asked about eyetracking for personalized results. Gord Hotchkiss took on the challenge, and today writes about Enquiro’s new eyetracking studies on Google Universal Search results pages, revealing a new scanning pattern in personalized search results.

Historically, we’ve seen the “Golden Triangle” or the F-shaped scanning pattern, which shows that users focus their gaze on the upper left hand side of the page, trailing off to the right and bottom of the page.

eyetracking on Google universal serps

However, with personalized results, these studies found a more E-shaped eyetracking pattern. Universal results kept users’ attention further down and across the page. Where non personalize results tended to have one or two areas of attention across the page, personalized results showed more interest across the page three, four or even more times, as well as more interest further down the page.

Fox Goes Free on iTunes

Did NBC jump ship too soon? TechCrunch reports that now Fox will be offering their shows for free download via iTunes. The deal will feature season premiere episodes of Fox shows including Prison Break, Bones, American Dad and K-Ville—mostly returning shows. Fox hopes to expose more viewers to its shows.

Interestingly, the reason that NBC decided not to renew their agreement with iTunes was allegedly that they wanted more control over individual show pricing, rather than the standardized pricing that Apple enforced. However, it’s now obvious that, at least in select cases, Apple could set different prices.

Although NBC Direct‘s free episodes (with embedded ads) expire after seven days, Fox’s free episodes will expire after 14 days. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The LA Times writes:

Email Phishing Hits Yahoo! Search Marketing

Well, I guess it was just a matter of time, but today I got my first phishing scam disguised as a Yahoo! Search Marketing customer email:

Yahoo! Phishing Scam Example

Very clever, oh devious ones! What are some of the tell-tale signs that this message is NOT from Yahoo!? Here’s what to check for:

  • No “To” Address. Always be suspicious if you do not see your email address or name in the “To” field of an email header. Yahoo! Search Marketing obviously has your email address on file if you are an advertiser.
  • Title Doesn’t Match the Copy. The headline of this email tells me to renew my account, but the body of the email discusses signing up for SMS account alerts that will come to my mobile phone.

Pilgrim’s Picks for September 21 – Google Overload Edition

Google has officially taken over the world today. Either I need to fine tune my RSS feeds or just about every marketing news story is about Google.

BlogRush Battling Bozos

I’m still not seeing anything more than a handful of clicks from the BlogRush network and the service is still struggling to deliver the syndication credits it owes us. At least BlogRush has emailed its users acknowledging their concerns and also admitting that ”bozos have come out of the woodwork and are trying to cheat the BlogRush system.” No, really?

Here are the steps BlogRush says they’re taking to cut down on the spam and increase the quality of the network.

1. We’re moving to a MANUAL REVIEW process. No more automation. We will be reviewing ALL blogs submitted to BlogRush. If the quality of the blog is poor, they will not be allowed to participate. We’re going to start reviewing ALL the blogs that are currently in our network and will be disabling the accounts for poor quality blogs.