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It makes me very happy to get comments on my posts – mainly because it means that someone out there is actually reading this blog, but also because of the high level of thought that goes into these replies.

So, I thought I’d take a moment and answer some of your more interesting comments:

“Sounds like personalized search to me. Not clear that users will be willing to pay premiums for even nextgen search capabilities, so long as the “free” option exists” – a response to my post on predicting the death of search engines.

My comments: I agree with you that much of what I was describing is similar to personalized search. The three biggest differences, though, are: 1) a persistent cookie that follows the user everywhere; 2) extensive user questionnaires – with information filled out honestly by the searcher – not unlike what you see on eHarmony; 3) a goal of sending a user to a results page directly, instead of through a search results page. I am suggesting that the whole concept of SERPs is irrelevant if you create an infomediary that truly understands what the user wants. And if SERPs aren’t necessary, this destroys the AdWords/YSM model very quickly. To your second point – will users pay for it? I think there are plenty of examples in which users pay extra when a free service is available – Tivo versus free TV, premium Internet radio stations (ex. LaunchCast Plus – avoid advertisements by paying a fee), Internet content sites ( – more content and no advertisements), and so on.

“How do you trust the user data that the user offers is valid and what parts of what they are looking at are valid. I guess you might say law or large numbers — but isn’t it the outlier world that has thrived since Google introduced search? – a response to my post on personal information and search.

My comments: Valid user information is always a concern. I saw a study a few years ago that suggested that upwards of 75% of user information entered into registration paths is fake (who knew there were so many John Does in the world with email addresses like myspamemail@yahoo?). That being said, user information is valid where the user has an incentive to be honest. For example, no user would spend hours surfing through random categories on Amazon just to trip up Amazon’s collaborative filtering mechanism. In other words, actual user interaction with a site is almost always going to be accurate personalized information. As to your comment on the ‘outlier world’ benefiting from Google’s rise: it’s true, a rising tide raises all ships. I doubt, however, that any of Google’s competitors are going to be content simply sitting back and enjoying the ride. There is an opportunity for these companies to differentiate themselves by focusing on the rich databases of user data that they currently have. I don’t think that a perfect personalization strategy will enable Yahoo or Amazon to surpass Google, but it may enable one of these competitors to increase market share, which is still a quite worthy goal.

“Well -not sure how long you have been using this for; all we know is that we have been discussing TOS with Google for three months; they got a copy of AdWords Dominator from us in December. Wrote internal reviews at Google, and now up this pops with some evident development still to do” – a response to my post on the Google AdWords Editor Beta.

My comments: It’s always tough trying to pitch an idea to an 800 pound gorilla, and perhaps in this case, the fear of the gorilla stealing your ‘banana’ for himself without paying you for it has been realized (I have no insight into the negotiations between Chris’ company and Google, for the record). On the other hand, the concept of a desktop application to manage PPC isn’t new – I know of several companies out there doing this. And its clear to me that Google has been looking for an alternative to mass adoption of their AdWords API for a while now – a desktop ‘API lite’ seems like a logical solution. Perhaps, however, this is a blessing in disguise for companies in the desktop application business. It could result in your company being acquired by Google, it certainly has resulted in more publicity for these sorts of applications, and since the Google Beta is still buggy and in a limited beta, this is a great opportunity to get out there and market your tool to the clamoring masses who currently don’t have an invite into the Beta!

“great illini v. hawkeye game last week” – a response to my post on search engines and the environment

My comments: A) Illinois has the worst color scheme in the Big Ten; B) Are Illinois basketball players still getting free gifts (such as $80,000) to incent them to join the team?