Rumor: Google to Offer “Recommended” Sponsored Links

UPDATE: It looks like it’s the work of a third party app. See Anne’s comment.

Now here’s something strange spotted by the eagle-eyed Anne Hennegar.

Is Google really getting ready to start a new level of sponsored search ads in its results?

Yahoo Developing AMP Advertising Platform for Publishers

The NYT has early details of Yahoo’s new online advertising platform designed to allow publishers to sell demographically targeted ads on their own sites and Yahoo’s content network. The new system is being dubbed AMP.

With AMP, a newspaper ad sales representative working with an advertiser, like a car dealer, would be able to easily see the ad space available on not only the newspaper’s site but also Yahoo and other Web publishers’ sites. The sales person could slice that inventory by demographic profile to, for instance, aim ads for a new hybrid S.U.V. to females of a specific income and age group. The system will help streamline a manual and time-consuming effort, Ms. Schneider said.

Google Buying Expedia?

I guess it’s not enough to have a rumor that Google might want to take Skype off of eBay’s hands. Now comes a rumor that Google might have an interest in buying travel company Expedia.

Why in the world would Google want to buy Expedia?

I’m serious. An online travel site is probably the furthest thing from Google’s core business, and doesn’t even get close to some of the more experimental Google products. At least the Skype rumor has some merit–Google could combine with Google Talk and Grand Central.

Of all the rumors circulating the web, Google buying Expedia is probably the most unlikely. Still, it has resulted in a nice bump to Expedia’s–up 9%–which makes you think that someone at Expedia started the rumor.

Facebook Working on an IM Service

I take one weekend off the Internet, and everything goes crazy. Can’t you people get on without me?

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington reported on Friday that Facebook would be developing an IM service, to premiere as early as this week. Naturally, as Arrington pointed out, this would not bode well for the existing third-party chat apps already in use on Facebook. Arrington’s sources say that Facebook’s IM would eventually be Jabber-compliant (ie open source and compatible with existing chat clients like Trillium).

A day later, the ever-reliable Valleywag reported that Facebook was in talks to acquire Social.IM, one of those third-party chat apps (which happens to be privately funded, as well). However, they updated their story when the CEO of Mogad (Social.IM’s owner company) said that “If we’re being bought, I haven’t gotten the call yet.”

Digg Getting Out While the Getting is Still Good?

UPDATE: As we said, TechCrunch is hit and miss with these types of rumors. Digg is denying them.

I know that most of the grumbling about Digg comes from marketers–who, for the most part, are annoyed because we can no longer expect traffic from the social voting site. But, surely there are enough other Digg users who feel that Digg is not quite the voting democracy they thought they were signing up for, and are abandoning the service.

And, maybe Digg knows that the clock is ticking, if it wants to sell out while it still has users and traffic to sell. That’s my take on why Digg is reportedly anxious to accept a bid lower than the $300 million valuation given by its investment bank Allen & Co.

Facebook Working on MySpace Music Clone?

music on facebook logoRumors have been circulating about Facebook working on a music platform similar to MySpace’s for months. Today they’re being revived with news that Facebook’s “music division” has been in talks with record labels.

Apparently launched last month, the Music on Facebook page is suddenly drawing a lot more attention. The page appears to be a “meta page” for all Facebook Pages devoted to bands and music. In the sidebar BTF, they list their featured launch partners: more than 80 musicians and bands ranging from Wyclef to Keith Urban to Coldplay (all of which have their own Facebook Pages, of course).

But for Facebook to launch a real social media/music “revolution,” a lot more will have to happen. Predictions from CNET and paidContent include:

Google Wifi Balloons? Is it April Fools 2008 Already?

UPDATE: Looking for Google’s official April Fools joke for 2008? It’s here.

If I hadn’t read it in the Wall Street Journal I’d be as skeptical as Techdirt, but it appears Google might be interested in a company that deploys wifi-equipped balloons.

OK, let that sink in.

Yes, a company that attaches $1500 of wireless technology to $50 balloons, uses farmers to release them, watches them burst after 24 hours then, get this, little parachutes bring the transmitters safely back to earth!

Say it with me…”Are You Kidding Me?”

It sounds so absurd that I really don’t know where to start. Seriously, I’m lost for words. Is it April Fools already?

Go and read the WSJ piece then come back and let me know what you think about it.