Google Understands User Behavior

Google is renowned for its intuitive user interface—but a lot of work goes in to making sure that Google understands exactly how its users interact with its pages, as evidenced in a blog post yesterday. And Google doesn’t just look at the user data they get from clicks or surveys—they use actual field studies.

Are actual field tests, observing users “in the wild,” necessary? Google’s Search Quality Uber Tech Lead, Daniel Russell, explains why:

people are masters of saying one thing and doing another, particularly when it comes to nearly automatic behavior. We find that searchers often turn so quickly to Google that they don’t really think too much about what they’re actually searching for.

Pilgrim’s Picks for November 7

Woohoo it’s Friday?

Let’s celebrate with today’s Picks:

  • A Russian company is suing Google for $3 billion, claiming AdSense infringes on its patent. Whatever.
  • The recession is going to reduce the growth rate of local online advertising from 47% growth this year to just 8% next year. Ouch!
  • E-consultancy has advice for publishers looking to improve their site search. Noted.
  • Live Search Maps has added Photosynth images.
  • How cool is the new "Reactions" feature, just added to Blogger?

Microsoft’s Ballmer Not Interested in Being Yahoo’s First Runner-up

It appears Jerry Yang’s appeal for Microsoft to buy Yahoo is falling on deaf ears. According to AP, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is just not interested anymore:

"We made an offer, we made another offer, and it was clear that Yahoo didn’t want to sell the business to us and we moved on," Ballmer said. "We are not interested in going back and re-looking at an acquisition. I don’t know why they would be either, frankly. They turned us down at $33 a share."

I can’t say I blame him. He did leave the door open for a partnership deal–likely similar to that he proposed before Google stepped in–saying:

"I’m sure there are still some opportunities for some kind of partnership around search, but I think acquisition is a thing of the past"

Just How Much Transparency Should We Expect from President Obama?

It’s not difficult to see just how important social media was to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. He had a long list of social media touch points, including:

Now the question being asked is; can, and will, Barack Obama continue with his social media efforts, when he assumes the office of President of the United States? Will the transparency continue?

Early signs suggest that our next Commander-in-Chief will remain entrenched in social media. The launch of Change.gov demonstrates his attempt to bring democracy kicking and screaming into the Web 2.0 age. Not only does the site have a blog–and profiles of Obama and Biden–but you can see Obama’s agenda as President, share your vision for America, and even apply for a job at the White House!

MySpace Revenue Up, New Ads Up Even More

Wow, something’s up here—this is the second time this week we’ve written about MySpace. The granddaddy of all social networks is having quite the week for news, with the announcement of their video fingerprinting ad partnership Monday, their Q3 announcement, rumors about the income from their new ad platform and rumors about naming a CEO for their new music division. Whew!

Yesterday, MySpace’s parent (grandparent?) company, News Corp, discussed its Q3 earnings. While many of the conglomerate’s divisions did poorly, MySpace’s unit still posted a 17% increase in revenue YOY. However, they are feeling the hit of the failing economy, as Rupert Murdoch said:

“We are doing slightly better than the marketplace, but it’s clear from everybody else that there’s a lot of softening in the display advertising marketplace, and we are clearly beginning to feel some of that.”

YouTube to Show Full-Length Films by Year End?

The most popular video site on the web, YouTube has long been in negotiations with movie studios to stream full-length feature films. And while there are still a lot of details to be hammered out, sources say that the deal could be complete in thirty to ninety days, according to CNET reports today.

Among the major sticking points, as with everything else on YouTube, is finding the right way to monetize full-length films. According to two studio sources, YouTube parent Google is insistent upon one particular form, though they didn’t say whether that was preroll, postroll or overlays. And of course, there’s still the issue of balancing enough advertising to make it worthwhile to the site and the studio without driving away the viewers.

Should Yahoo’s Jerry Yang Resign?

If Jerry Yang were a college football coach, his athletic director would likely have already asked him to step down, or else. Just ask Tommy Bowden (formerly of Clemson) what happens when you promise much, but deliver zip.

Of course, Jerry Yang is not solely responsible for Yahoo’s current woes, but in light of the fact that Yahoo failed to get a deal done with Microsoft (at $31 a share) and bet big on a partnership with Google–a deal even Google didn’t believe would be approved–is it time for him to resign?

I ask because of the sorry state Yahoo is now in. Even if Yang is somehow able to entice Microsoft back to the negotiating table, the company would likely fetch less than $15 a share–compare that to the $31 the company previously turned down.