Google Gives Gov’t Top Spot

Has anyone else seen this before:
Google SERP for flu symptoms

I actually checked a similar ‘symptom’ keyword for a potential client last night and noticed this change today. Here’s a close up of the change:

Google SERP for flu symptoms close up

Notice the result just under the paid listings: the NIH or National Institutes of Health. If the .gov didn’t give it away, this is an institution of the US government. I’m not sure how NIH got in above the one box type refinements Google’s had on SERPs for a while now–conspiracy theories welcome.

Google to Index the Stars

And no, I don’t mean Paris Hilton et al.

Google announced today that they’ve joined forces with the 19 universities, labs and other foundations of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) project.

The huge telescope, to be located in Chile, will scan the night sky for distant activity including supernovae and asteroids. Google will be providing the infrastructure and database for organizing, storing and making available in real time the vast amounts of information (30 terabytes, they say) generated by the heavens each night.

Google’s VP of engineering, William Coughran, explains Google’s interest in the project:

Google’s mission is to take the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. The data from LSST will be an important part of the world’s information, and by being involved in the project we hope to make it easier for that data to become accessible and useful.

“Immigrant Entrepreneurs” Generate $52B

A new study from Duke University found that of companies started between 1995-2005, 25% had at least one foreign-born senior executive. By 2005, immigrants had founded 52% of Silicon Valley companies (up from 25% in a 1999 Berkeley study). Companies run by these “immigrant entrepreneurs” accounted for approximately 450,000 jobs and $52 billion in sales in 2005.

Researchers also report that 24% of patent applications last year were made by foreign-born inventors living in the United States without citizenship. In 1998, only 7.3% of filings were made by resident non-citizens.

The full reports include breakdowns by country of origin and state as well as focus studies on Silicon Valley and Research Triangle Park companies. That makes me like it twice as much: it’s by Duke (I love my Blue Devils) and focuses on my home (RTP).

100 Billion Reasons to Celebrate this Year

comScore Networks reports that online retail spending reached $100 billion for the year as of Saturday, December 23. It looks like procrastinators placed their faith in expedited shipping, as the last business week before Christmas saw $2.25 billion in eCommerce.

2006 year-to-date spending was up by 26% over 2005, but the last week before Christmas increased 38% over the same period in 2005.

Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore Networks, stated in a press release:

Retail e-commerce now accounts for approximately 7 percent of consumers’ U.S. retail spending (excluding gas, autos and food), making it an important component of the total U.S. economy.

From Nov. 1 to Dec. 26, Amazon.com had the highest online retail sales, followed by Dell, Yahoo, Walmart and Ticketmaster. The etailers with the highest percentage increase over last year were Best Buy, Walmart, Ticketmaster, Circuit City and Yahoo.

Google Expands Print Ads (again)

The Washington Post says that Google is set to further expand its print ad program soon, after a rocky start in March and one expansion in November. Google’s director of print ads, Tom Phillips, is naturally quite optimistic about the future of the program. Newspaper execs are less enthused, as the Post says it remains unclear how much the program will truly benefit newspapers.

The Post states:

Todd Haskell, vice president of business development at the New York Times Co., which is participating, said that the product has the potential to drum up new business from small advertisers but that the Times does not foresee letting go of its direct relationships with its largest advertisers.

(Did anyone think that they would? Was it unclear that Google was selling off excess ad inventory?)

Outlook for Mobile Marketing: Billions or bupkis?

Today eMarketer Daily compiled conflicting reports on the future of mobile marketing. According to “Mobile Entertainment’s Potential Sharply Debated” by John du Pre Gauntt (free & live on a limited basis), the predictions for mobile revenues vary wildly:

In November 2006, Juniper Research forecast that total revenues for wireless providers from mobile entertainment in the mobile music, video, TV, gambling, gaming and adult categories would exceed $77 billion by 2011.

One month later, Informa Telecoms & Media followed with a mobile entertainment forecast that stated the total market in 2011 would be $38.1 billion.

eMarketer attributes the $40 billion difference to “wildcards” such as WiFi in the US and international wireless markets, especially China and India which are set to grow exponentially in the immediate future.

Safe search is ON

Following up on their May study, McAfee reports that search results have become safer on Google, Ask and AOL. Yahoo and MSN now return riskier results than they did in May.

How does McAfee define “risk”? They have three levels:

Red ratings are given to risky sites that fail one or more of McAfee’s tests for adware, spyware, viruses, exploits, spammy e- mail, excessive pop-ups or strong affiliations with other red rated sites. Green rated sites passed each of these tests. Yellow ratings are given to sites which pass McAfee’s safety tests but which still have nuisances warranting a user advisory.

Overall, “riskiness” declined 12%, with a 6% decline in sponsored search. McAfee considered 8% of sponsored results red or yellow, while only 3% of organic results are classified as red or yellow.