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Real Estate Blog Network Infused with $1.5 Million

We’ve all heard the bad news in the housing market that only seems to get worse. Here’s a small bright spot for a real estate blog network. Curbed.com obtained some capital to expand their market. They currently focus on New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles has healthy advertising contracts with national advertisers. Now with $1.5 million in financing they’ll expand into new cities and add staff members. According to Lockhart Steele, Curbed.com’s publisher, traffic is growing 10 percent a month.

The investors include Nick Denton, who used to be Steele’s boss, Zach Nelson, chief executive of NetSuite, a maker of business software, and Gawker Media.

Buy the Whole Car Online

Now there is almost nothing left that you can’t buy entirely online. Autonation is the first to offer this service for buying a car completely over the internet. They are piloting a program that lets customers buy their car online in the Atlanta market with 14 dealerships.

Starting out, you enter your ZIP code, then using drop-down menus you can select a specific vehicle make and model and other features of the car. That includes choosing the color and packages. If you have a trade-in you can also use the used vehicle calculator to get a price for your car. When you and the dealer agree on a price, that figure is subtracted from the purchase price of your new car.

Zillow Gets Googley with Homeowner Tools

I know that Vanessa Fox’s move to Zillow doesn’t necessarily mean she’s single-handedly responsible for any improvements to the real estate site, but the latest update sure looks like it has her touch.

As you know Vanessa was a key part of Google’s Webmaster Tools–that cool dashboard that provides a check-up on the health of your web site as it relates to Google. Now it appears Zillow is getting something very similar.

The initiative, officially launched today, will enable homeowners to "claim" their homes and correct errors or eliminate omissions displayed on a Zillow profile regarding their properties.

When that happens, Zillow takes note and those changes help the company create internal portraits of homeowners, profiles leveraged in Zillow’s new Home Direct Ads program.

Mozilla Gets 85% of Revenue from Google

Towards the end of Mozilla’s 2006 Financial statements in the section called “Concentration of Risk” it reads:

“Mozilla has a contract with a search engine provider for royalties. The contract originally expired in November 2006 but was renewed for two years and expires in November 2008. Approximately 85% of Mozilla’s revenue for 2006 was derived from this contract.”

That one source responsible for almost all their revenue was Google. Now if I could choose a partnership to rely on, Google would be at the top of my list. But there are threats – like a plugin called Adblock Plus for Firefox that blocks the very ads that generate their income.

Halloween Costume Search Stats

Here’s a fun story for SEO on a very timely subject – Halloween costumes. As a fan of both Halloween and online marketing I’m curious what is selling. First, the most popular search, according to Hitwise data is “hanna montana costume.” (here is the Hitwise full download with all the data).

Other popular Halloween Costume searches include:
Halo 3’s Master Chief, pirates, Wonder Woman, Little Red Riding Hood, and Tinkerbell. What else are people looking for? Ideas on how to make a cheap or for a sexy costume.

People often searched on these words describing the costumes: sexy, funny, homemade and cool. The phrase “cheap halloween costume ideas” increased 305 percent this year, and the term “adult halloween costume” increased 336 percent.

Facebook Feeding Frenzy

More Investor Cash for Facebook

Yesterday we learned that Microsoft bought 1.6% of Facebook for $240 Million. Today there is another large investment – it’s been rumored that Facebook got an additional $500 million from two New York hedge funds. Part of that deal is that Microsoft will do more advertising on the site. Facebook has a jaw-dropping $15 billion valuation. This is incredible. Together the new investments are for about the percentage that Microsoft owns.

Elizabeth Corcoran from Forbes Magazine broke the story yesterday and the news spread faster than the California wildfires (which, thank goodness, are slowing).

Facebook was seeking $750 million from the get-go and are at $740 and have only given up about 5% of the company. And we don’t know their revenue but it’s based on advertising. Estimates put their revenue at $100 million for last year.

Facebook Sets the Date (for New Ads)

No, Facebook isn’t announcing the date for its impending nuptials, but it’s sent out engraved invitations (literally) for an event next month in New York, as AdAge writes:

The invitation, sent to advertisers and agencies in New York, arrived carved onto a Lucite brick:

“You are invited to a discussion with Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook executive team as we unveil a new way of advertising online.”

AdAge speculates that this could be the unveiling of the meaning of a term first used and trademarked by Facebook last month, “SocialAds”:

described as “advertising and information distribution services, namely, providing advertising space via the global computer network [and] promoting the goods and services of others over the internet.”