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  Searching for Amazon Prime Stuff

If you join Amazon Prime, you start to get tired of searching through Amazon only to discover that seemingly 99% of everything besides books and DVDs is NOT ELIGIBLE for Amazon Prime free shipping!

This is because Amazon Prime only works for stuff that Amazon sells directly.

So here's a really simple mash-up - it just shows you products that Amazon sells. In other words, stuff that should be eligible for Amazon Prime.

Try it out - bookmark it, even! It's at:

There's no direct way to ask the Amazon API for things that are Amazon Prime eligible, so this makes a couple of assumptions. I think it's about 98% accurate.

Much of the code (and the ingenius JSON / XSLT combination ) is recycling of a great set of stuff from Kokogiak. Thanks Kokogiak!

Update: OK - I fixed the code so it works better on IE. Also, if you haven't tried amazon prime - go get a free trial here: Amazon Prime free for 2 months. Just in time to sucker you in for early X-mas shopping...

  Talk about Failing Fast

ESPN Mobile is shutting down. Wow - think of the wasted ad spend (at least $30M). If you watch any ESPN, you've seen wall-to-wall ads for this service for the past 4 months. The main problem was that it was too expensive.

My intuition is also that the phones aren't good enough - reception and video quality still suck. At least that's what the perception is.

The speed at which this got de-commissioned is impressive. Search Views writes:

The failure of ESPN Mobile brings up new hesitations for other companies developing mobile media products.

Probably due to the incessant ads that flooded the ESPN Zone, some bloggers are deriving snarky hathos from corporate failure of this kind.

I wonder how long it will be til something decentralized and free succeeds in its place? Think YouTube for phones. I'm guessing 1 year...

  Is it just Yahoo's Weakness?

Terry Semel lowered guidance at Yahoo last week, citing the fact that automotive and financial advertisers are spending less.

Henry Blodget is left to wonder if Yahoo is the canary in the coalmine that serves as a warning to all online ad-supported businesses that a slowdown is coming.

Here a couple things to think about:

I come down on the side that Yahoo is suffering earlier than it should be; however, when an ad slowdown comes - and it will - Google will suffer too. Yahoo should have adapted faster to the very predictable decrease in spend by advertisers in interest-rate sensitive markets.

Yahoo should have revamped their search ad system by now - it is easily over 1 year late - because it would have helped diversify their revenue.

By the time Panama launches next year, the overall ad market will be slowing even more, so Yahoo will be sailing into a headwind as it tries to build share. I think uptake will be slower than most people believe.

The simple reason Google will suffer despite the shift of more ad budget to online from major advertisers is that big advertisers will slow down spending faster than Google and Yahoo predict.

Currently, Yahoo's display business is more dependent on big advertisers and specific sectors. However, Google has been growing its salesforce and winning more and more big advertisers, so they won't be immune.

  How is ShoeMoney getting keyword lists?

ShoeMoney recently asked "What if you could get a list of every [key]word your competitor has been bidding on?"

Shoemoney (who's blog I like) demonstrated this in his comments, showing lists of keywords that send traffic to a wide variety of sites. A poster on the SEM2 mailing list wondered how this could be done.

I can think of 4 scenarios:

I seriously doubt that anyone has hacked into AdWords yet, but it is a lucrative target. And it will happen someday. But it's not a business model, nor the type of thing someone would promote.

Scraping Google probably isn't that sustainable on a large scale, but it would work reasonably well for a narrow set of sites (i.e. a small number of competitors). GoogSpy apparently works by scraping.

Toolbars - like the Yahoo toolbar, the Google toolbar, and hundreds of others sit in your browser and send data to a server based on every page you visit. They can provide a huge amount of valuable data about browsing habits - and in aggregate that data could be used to do very sophisticated targeting. Getting keywords that people typed in, or keywords used to get from an ad to a site would be a simple task with access to enough toolbar clients.

Finally, ISP proxy logs - which I think are the most likely source of Shoemoney's data can be used to capture clickstream. Hitwise uses ISP logs (along with some toolbar / panel data). Hitwise's logs represent the browsing activity of 10 Million users. Hitwise charges about $25k / year to get access to their tools.

So it's most likely that ShoeMoney has struck a deal with an ISP. Or at least he's getting web proxy logs somehow.

How could the data come from ISPs?

ISPs use proxies to reduce bandwidth costs. They can cache a large percentage of web page data, and serve the data from the proxy. In any case, they get to record quite a bit of clickstream data from the people accessing the web through their servers.

One of the things they record for each http request is referrer - which is a string that often has the query string from a search engine click...

By parsing their logs, and correlating clicks on ads / SERPs to destination pages, you can get a good idea of the keywords that advertisers are buying to drive traffic to their site, and the search strings people are typing to reach websites.

In a similar vein, the AOL dataset that caused a privacy kerfuffle when AOL research released it, could be used to derive this type of mapping of keywords / sites.

Of course, it is pretty hard to ensure that the results from processing millions of log lines are accurate. There are a huge number of variations and limitations in log processing, so it's to be expected that you can't find all the keywords with high accuracy. Furthermore, some keywords that an advertiser buys will never be clicked on at all by users in the clickstream one is processing. So those words won't show up in the final results, obviously.

Google, Yahoo and the other big sites have a TON of data like this. And they could do it incredibly accurately - not just for their customers, but for customers from other search engines. In other words, they "see" a huge number of referers.

I think it'd be interesting and good if google / yahoo somehow provided this data more transparently.

  Amazon EC2 - More important than you think

I don't think most people really grasp the meaning of Amazon's EC2 service.

Basically Amazon is now the cheapest high-quality dedicated hosting provider in the world. And they offer provisioning functionality no one else can match.

Amazon EC2 - "Elastic Cloud" allows you to run as many Linux boxes as you like. They charge you $0.10 per CPU hour. It gives new meaning to the expression: It's your dime

This equates to $72/month for a server. In comparison, up til now, I've considered $99/month a pretty good deal for a dedicated server.

I'm using the EC2 beta, and created my first machine. I notice using dmesg on my instance that Amazon is running EC2 on top of Xen virtualization:

BIOS-provided physical RAM map:
 Xen: 0000000000000000 - 000000006a400000 (usable)
980MB HIGHMEM available.
727MB LOWMEM available.

What makes this unique:

Who suffers the most from this little revolution? I think it could be VCs. Software and services entrepreneurs simply won't need as much money to create the next Digg, Flickr, or even Google.

  Microsoft's Live Search is just depressing...

I looked at Microsoft's revamped search page - and design-wise, I find it depressing. The muted bluish-slate color scheme, grayish background (#eff7ff ?!), smallish Verdana fonts, all add up to a sad-feeling web page to me.

If this was a downloadable UI theme, I'd call it: "Neptune Morose".

The search results are still full of spam. Try [hoostabank ringtone] on Live Search, and you'll see spam pages everywhere. Even more amateurish, one of the URLs runs over to the right, and overlaps the ads.

As an adCenter advertiser, I wish Microsoft would improve the ads, but now, they've gone and inserted "Related Searches" for some queries, above the ads. This can't be good, from a CTR perspective.

Overall grade: BLAH.

  Google will buy Second Life

They'd be CRAZY not to. Watch this video of Second Life's Philip Rosedale demoing his company's (Linden Labs) creation to a band of Google engineers.

Awfully nice of him to come in and give away all the details to Google like that.

I'm sure Google is working on something like Second Life, but WHY? Why not just buy Linden Labs? It's a massive advertising learning opportunity (no pun intended on "massive").

Second Life is a virtual economy that's a simulacra of the internet itself. If Google bought it, they would figure out how to apply their advertising, search, transaction management to the Second Life world - and then systematize it for other MMORPGs and Avatar worlds.

The other thing that strikes me is how impressed Rosedale is with the size of transactions going on in Second Life. Back in March, the biggest earner in Second Life was a "lady in Germany" developing virtual real estate. She was pulling down $175k / year.

Rosedale says that over the previous month 180k distinct objects were bought and sold with a total transaction value of $5M dollars.

Maybe it's just me, but those numbers don't blow me away - there are many AdWords arbitrageurs making $175k per week in the virtual game that is Pay-per-click advertising.

So it strikes me that if Google can't buy the top RPG - World of Warcraft, since Blizzard is on pace to do a billion in revenue, perhaps Second Life is the best acquistion for them in the space.

Update: Second Life experienced a personal data compromise - maybe Google can get a discount if they act fast.

  What the Best Bloggers Have in Common

What do the following bloggers have in common?

Yes they all can write, they use humor, they post consistently, they focus on a main topic but they mix it up every so often.

I think the most important thing about these great bloggers is that they GIVE of themselves. Their blogs are personal. They share their experiences, and exhibit a ton of honesty, or they just don't care what others think.

  Texsy Ads

I've spent the summer building an ad system. It's called Texsy Ads, and it automatically highlights product mentions on a website.

It's kinda like a cross between IntelliTXT and Chitika.

Here's an example: Some things I want for Christmas:

Mouse over the links above to see the ads.

Texsy automatically underlines those "product-y" phrases, and creates a mouseover ad with related products & prices. The ad clicks are connected to the Amazon, Ebay and affiliate programs.

Any website can use it. The revenue split is 80% for the publisher, 20% for Texsy. You get paid via your affiliate account (i.e. Amazon, Ebay & send you checks).

I think Texsy Ads will be good for sites that mention products like:

Check it out at: It's in Beta, so I'm looking for feedback as well.


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Recent Posts

Searching for Amazon Prime Stuff
Talk about Failing Fast
Is it just Yahoo's Weakness?
How is ShoeMoney getting keyword lists?
Amazon EC2 - More important than you think
Microsoft's Live Search is just depressing...
Google will buy Second Life
What the Best Bloggers Have in Common
Texsy Ads


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Searching for Amazon Prime Stuff
Talk about Failing Fast
Is it just Yahoo's Weakness?
How is ShoeMoney getting keyword lists?
Amazon EC2 - More important than you think
Microsoft's Live Search is just depressing...
Google will buy Second Life
What the Best Bloggers Have in Common
Texsy Ads