Google Steps Into a Hornet’s Nest of Privacy Concerns With Latest Acquisition

google_plus_nestGoogle announced yesterday that it plans to acquire Nest Labs for $3.2B in cash.

That’s a lot of Benjamins for a company that makes thermostats!

Except, they’re not your ordinary “how do I set this again” thermostat. Nope! Nest offers a smart, internet-connected thermostat. The type that knows when you’ve left the house, and even when you’re in the room! Did that just set off any alarm bells for anyone?

Google will own technology that will know  when you’re feeling too warm or if you’re feeling chilly. Google will know when you leave the house. Next step? You see an Adsense ad on your phone reminding you to pick up a new fleece sweater while you’re at the mall.

Perhaps.

DuckDuckGo Parties Like It’s 1999

DuckDuckGo LogoI’ve tried to like DuckDuckGo, I honestly have. While I found the Google challenger lacking in relevant results, others are apparently believe that is a small price to pay in order to preserve their privacy.

According to The Guardian, DuckDuckGo has seen a surge in the number of searches conducted–mostly thanks to the NSA freaking us all out with its poking around our privacy.

DuckDuckGo Growth

While the hockey-stick growth chart looks impressive, it does need some perspective. With 4 million queries a day, DuckDuckGo has reached the lofty numbers achieved by Google…back in 1999. Its one billion queries in 2013 is paltry compared to Google’s one trillion.

Did a Judge Just Void Your Right to Post Anonymous Reviews?

anonymousIf you’ve ever posted a negative review online–especially on Yelp–then news from the Washington Times might give you cause for alarm.

A Virginia court has just ordered Yelp to hand over the names of seven reviewers who left anonymous, negative reviews on the Yelp profile of a company called Hadeed Carpet Cleaning. The owner claims that the reviews cannot be matched to any existing customers and therefore must be fictitious. On those tenuous grounds, a judge in Alexandria agreed with him.

Of course,  Yelp’s legal team is pitching a conniption:

“Hadeed really did nothing to justify the need for the identity of the Does in this case,” said Mr. Levy, who works at the D.C.-based nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen. “It’s going to make it more difficult for the marketplace of ideas to get valuable information about companies.”

Are Lenders Finally Ready to Embrace a Reputation Score?

iStock_000004978052XSmallFor many years, I’ve shared the idea that banks and other financial institutions will soon use a social media score alongside the traditional credit scoring used by Experian and Equifax. Each time I talk about it, I expect someone to jump on the idea and build a scoring system that takes into account someone’s online reputation and social media activities.

At this point, it’s about as likely as us actually seeing “the year of the mobile.”

According to the WSJ, a lack of any central social score has not stopped fringe lenders from doing their own sleuthing.

Catch Andy Beal’s Keynote at ClickZ Live New York

ClickZ Live New YorkSearch Engine Strategies was the very first industry conference I attended and the first one to invite me to speak. Back in the day, you’d find me talking a lot about keyword research–too much actually. ;-)

That was over a decade ago and a lot has changed since then. So much so that SES has now rebranded to ClickZ Live. A smart move, when you consider that “search” now has many siblings–social, native, video, etc.

I’m delighted to announce that I will be delivering the Day 2 morning keynote on April 2nd. Reputation Roadkill: Learning From the Biggest Brands’ “OMG” Moments will be both fun and educational as I take you back through all the worst reputation mishaps of the past 12 months. Trust me, there are some amazing lessons to learn.

Yahoo Makes Advertising Easier, but Can It Make It Better?

Yahoo AdvertisingTaking a hiatus from her recent spending spree, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer used her CES platform to announce a rebranding of Yahoo’s various advertising products.

The new “Yahoo Advertising” brand has already won me over by not insisting we call it “Yahoo! Advertising”–boy those exclamation marks get old. As part of the rebrand, Yahoo is bringing together all of its advertising platforms under one umbrella–although it appears not all umbrellas will be the same.

First we have…

These new native and display ads are now available to large and small advertisers through a new simplified platform, Yahoo Ad Manager. Yahoo Ad Manager gives advertisers direct, hands-on access to Yahoo’s advertising products. Yahoo Stream Ads, Yahoo Image Ads and Tumblr Sponsored Posts powered by Yahoo Advertising are available today through a simple user interface that helps advertisers get ads online in a matter of minutes, with insights and analytics built in.

Twitter Co-Founder Launches Jelly, but Will It Go the Way of Aardvark?

JellyIf I were to bet on a company doing great things, it would be one founded by Biz Stone. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Biz and he’s one smart cookie–I’m stating the obvious considering he co-founded Twitter.

His new company is called Jelly and it’s an app that lets you share photos with your friends and ask them to identify the contents. Here’s how Jelly describes its use:

Say you’re walking along and you spot something unusual. You want to know what it is so you launch Jelly, take a picture, circle it with your finger, and type, “What’s this?” That query is submitted to some people in your network who also have Jelly. Jelly notifies you when you have answers.