Their conclusion was that Google had the best overall results across multiple query types (general search, image search, video search etc), but:
two other services topped it–barely–in our text-search tests.
These results don’t differ all that much from what we found in testing the various search options at AOL when I was there a couple of years ago. When stripped of UI and branding, most users couldn’t tell the difference in quality between search results. When UI and branding was returned, most people thought that Google was the best search engine.
This speaks to the power of branding in the third phase of competition of consumer internet companies, as I have blogged about in the past. First comes distribution, then product and finally branding. It explains why, even though Google’s general web search isn’t head and shoulders better than the other search engines any more, it continues to win market share.
Most frequently visited websites – not what you’d expect April 20, 2007Posted by jeremyliew in Consumer internet, Internet.
March’s Comscore numbers just came out. I took a look at the top 2000 web domains, but this time I ranked them by number of visits per month. The results were a little surprising. Here are the 41 sites that were visited 10 times or more on average by US internet users in the month of March 2007:
Let’s peel back the onion a little, and look at these websites by category. Twenty one of the websites – more than half, fall into the category of homepage.
Many of these are ISP websites (e.g. Adelphia.com, Optonline.net, Compuserve.com, Peoplepc.com etc), with the balance being portals and search engines (aol.com, yahoo.com, live.com, google.com, etc). One anomaly jumps out – officialsearchlist.org. It turns out that Officalsearchlist.org has around 600k users and they looked at only 16m pageviews from their 9m visits to the site, spending on average 30 seconds. This suggests a relatively low level of engagement. It may be that some of the users of this site have had their homepage reset to officialsearchlist.org and don’t know how to change it. The site has a large section of myspace layouts and it is possible that some less experienced users changed their homepage while getting a myspace layout.
The high proportion of homepages in the list of most frequently visited sites emphasizes the power of the default, which I have posted on before in a slightly different context. Inertia is a powerful force, not to be underestimated. Capturing the first page that a user sees when they start their browser can drive a lot of usage.
The next category on the list is gaming, with four sites; World Of Warcraft, Pogo, Webkinz and Runescape. I’m sure most readers will be familiar with WoW, Pogo and Runescape. Webkinz is a very interesting offline toy – online game hybrid launched by Ganz in late 2005. Ganz has been making plush toys for years, but with Webkinz they gave each toy a unique secret code that allows kids to take care of their pet/toy online and play games with it. It has gone from nothing to over 4m UU/mth since then. Webkinz is part of a very interesting trend towards offline-online hybrid services that I will explore more in a later post.
The Warez/Download category also has four sites on the list. Overall traffic levels for these sites are all sub one million (versus the gaming sites which were all in excess of 4 million with the exception of WoW at 1.7m). It’s not a surprise that people like to get free music and movies.
Communications and Social Networking sites have three representatives on the list (Myspace, Facebook and Hotmail). They are all huge – between 20-60m UU/mth and between 6-43 billion PV/mth. Communications/webmail are also a major driver of portal site traffic. The three count likely under-represents the importance of communication as a driver for frequent visitation of online websites.
The “Other” category is a bit of a hodgepodge, with each site worth looking at individually. I’m not sure that any lessons can be drawn from them as a whole:
ALURIASOFTWARE.COM. Anti-spyware software – likely updating spyware signatures at each log-in.
DRUDGEREPORT.COM. Often controversial news site – devotees may be bigger news junkies than followers of other news sites?
CHRYSLER.COM. Chrysler said that it intended to spend over $1bn in online advertising in the second half of 2006. Perhaps its paying off? Although GM.com wasn’t far behind at 9.8 visits/month, other Auto OEMs like Toyota and Ford had just 2 visits/month.
WHATISMYIP.COM. Tells you your IP address. Can’t explain why this gets so much usage.
CLEMSON.EDU. Clemson University’s website. This may be set as the homepage for Clemson university students?
ADP.COM. ADP provides HR services such as payroll, 401k, and benefits administration. It also offers time and labor management on a SaaS basis – perhaps some workers need to clock their hours on ADP’s website to make sure that they get paid accurately?
TDAMERITRADE.COM. Are they the online broker of choice for active traders? Schwab and eTrade average just over 5 visits per month.
PLENTYOFFISH.COM. Free personals website. This rate of visitation is significantly higher than that of paid dating sites such as Match.com. Perhaps free is good, just as with the Warez sites. Oddly though, the other free personals website, okcupid, does not see the same high visitation rates that Plenty of fish does.
Am I missing a connection with some of these sites in the “Other” category? Some plausible explanations in comments – add your thoughts!
Slide Presentation at Web 2.0 Expo – “Show me the money”; business models for web 2.0 startups April 19, 2007Posted by jeremyliew in business models, Consumer internet, Ecommerce, media, start-up, startups, VC, Venture Capital, web 2.0.
I spoke today at the Web2.0 expo on the topic of how this generation of internet companies can make money under both media and e-commerce models (Show me the money). This is an expansion of previous posts I have written on this topic.
The short form of my presentation is as follows:
1. Its easier than ever to start a consumer internet company
> 1.1. Not too hard to get to cash flow breakeven
2. For long term value creation, plan A can’t be “get bought by Google”
3. Need to have a roadmap to be an independent public company
> 3.1 Requires real scale
> 3.2 Revenue sometimes lags costs when you are growing
> 3.3 May need venture capital to bridge the gap
I go into more detail on this and lay out the math as to how big you need to be to both breakeven and to be a public company under both business models.
For those who are interested, slides are available here:
Jon Miller has joined Kosmix’s board of directors April 10, 2007Posted by jeremyliew in Consumer internet, kosmix, Search, web 2.0.
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Jon is one of the most visionary thinkers about the internet that I know. I was his chief of staff while he was CEO of AOL and was privilidged enough to have a front row seat as he took AOL from a shrinking dial-up-ISP centric business into an online media business driving 40-50% advertising growth year on year. I came with him from USA Networks/IAC when he took the CEO job at AOL in 2002. He is a great big picture thinker who can see several years and several steps ahead as the industry evolves.
My partner Ravi Mhatre led our investment in Kosmix in the first institutional round (Jeff Bezos joined us as an investor in that round, and Accel joined us as an investor in a subsequent round). We introduced Kosmix to AOL‘s Search team in mid 2006, and when the deal wound its way up the AOL chain, Jon eventually met the company at the Web 2.0 conference last year. He immediately understood the huge opportunity in what Kosmix was capable of doing; using a search interface to automatically aggregate relevant web content and presents it in a familiar portal like page format. When faced with “research” type searches and topics where the user may not be familiar enough with a topic to refine search queries without some help (such as in healthcare), this is a truly better experience.
After Jon left AOL earlier this year, we were able to convince him to continue talking to Kosmix as an independant agent, and eventually brought him on to the Board. Its great to be able to work with him again.