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Google Experimenting with New Search Views

Google started promoting their Experimental Search product more actively last week. This week, they’re making the formal announcement of new views in Experimental Search—with a familiar-sounding rationale.

There have been a lot of recent improvements to web search, but the appearance of results themselves has been pretty constant — 10 or so web pages in a vertical list. Frequently this is exactly the right format, but for some searches you need more options and more control. That’s why we’ve created our experimental search page to let you try out some of our newest ideas.

Now, Experimental Search isn’t new news—and neither is a search interface that’s not just a list of 10 blue links. However, these particular views are purpose-specific and don’t just make the search page look nicer—they could make it easier to find and understand data.

Is Google’s Stranglehold Slipping?

Is Google’s stranglehold on the market slipping? We all had to ask as comScore and Nielsen reported their numbers for December, with Google losing search market share. Although their losses were quite small, with Nielsen reporting a loss of 1.4 percentage points and comScore reporting a loss of 0.2 percentage points for Google in search engine market share between November and December.

So, what’s going on here? The Silicon Alley Insider assures us all that Google’s in no danger (in search market share, at least, no references to their falling stock price):

A person who follows search stats more closely than we do argues that Google’s December drop is probably easy to explain: Students spend less time on their computers in December because of the holidays.

Lessons in Paid Search

I must admit that when it comes to research that talks about how big to make the “buy button” or what color to make it, I’m a complete nerd. MarketingSherpa just published a case study on how to Increase conversions. The software company Smartsheet involved says they increased the number of people who signed up for a free trial 280%. That’s enough to make me look twice.

Prospects who sign up for free trials are more likely to become paying customers. Smartsheet was getting 5%-7% of their visitors who click on a ad to sign up for a free trial. They tried multivariate testing – because as they point out, usually “your gut tells you one thing and the data tells you another,” according to Maria Colacurcio, VP Marketing, at Smartsheet.com. That increased conversions to very high levels – 12 to 14 percent. I’ve been in heated debates about the best course of action but testing works best – assuming you’re humble enough to go with the data over your ego.

Online Video Ads Unwelcome

Shocker—people don’t want to see ads. As marketers, we hear people complain all the time about advertising. It comes as no surprise that BurstMedia’s recent survey found that people don’t like ads—but it’s probably something we should think about.

First, the good news: The survey of 2600 online adults focused specifically on online video and advertising in online video. As we all know, the medium is pretty darn popular—72.1% of respondents viewed video online at least monthly.

As we all know, the primary audience for online video is young, adult males: 33.7% of males aged 18 to 24 viewed online video at least once a day (compared to 17.8% of females in the same age range and 25.4% of males over 25). Even seniors are getting into online video, with 58.6% of respondents aged 65 and over watching.

Generation Google: Not So Much

Kids these days. All crazy with the texting and the AIM and the Facebook and the Google. I just don’t understand them.

Ars Technica reports today about a recent study (PDF) by the British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee on “Generation Google.” Born after 1993, this famed set of children, the oldest of whom will be fifteen this year, are supposedly legendary hunters and gatherers when it comes to Internet information.

As a member of “Generation Google” might IM: “w/e.” (Actually, I sincerely doubt that people reputed to be so hip to the Internet would type such a thing.) As it turns out, these kids aren’t any more adept at Googling than the average bear Internet user. Many urban legends about this group were disproven in the report. The findings (rated by the researchers as * low, ** medium and *** high confidence):

Facebook Gains but MySpace Still Gets the Most Traffic

Hitwise has some new numbers about social networking sites. Though down, MySpace is still gets the most traffic with 76% of visits in 2007. It’s actually down. Number two, Facebook is up 51%. They monitored 53 different social networking sites to get the data.

What’s surprising it how far behind Facebook is – with just 12.57 percent of visits. People are returning to the sites. In December 2007, 95% percent of traffic to the site are return visits, not first timers. Facebook also has loyal users because 93% of traffic was also returning visitors.

Another measure of stickiness is how much time people spend on the site. In December 2007, the average time spent on Bebo averaged a full 30 minutes and 24 seconds. That is a long, long time online.

75% of Journalists Get Story Ideas from Blogs

A new survey by Brodeur and MarketWire, shows that 75% of journalists use blogs to get ideas for stories. Journalists may not comment but they are reading…in fact, four in five say they read blogs at least two to three times a week. Almost 30% of journalists in the survey say they have their own blog.

Journalists consult blogs for story ideas, angles and insights:

  • Over 75% of reporters see blogs as helpful in giving them story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue.
  • 70% of reporters check a blog list on a regular basis.
  • 21% of reporters spend over an hour per day reading blogs.
  • 57% of reporters read blogs at least two to three times a week.