local search panel notes

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what is your vision for local search

Paul Levin yahoo– yahoo’s vision is FUSE: find, use, share, expand all knowledge (go john, Michelle and Nate!)
find is basic
use, share, expand is more… we’re in the business of serving users. adding reviews, integrating with mobile, concentrate on use. 360 is the share component… you want to know someone when you are getting a recommendation on a dentist. and expanding the amount of content. users are users but also participants.

shallesh roa, Google
creating delight, surprise. experiences that do both. no documented vision beyond Google’s… local as an extension of that mission. stay connected to users, don’t stay with a static model, stay nimble, maps, local, Google earth is part of that.

Daniel read– ask jeeves
looking beyond one set of data. local search is more than business listings. local weather, community listings, and more. how can you remix those types of data with an intuitive user interface. and monetization, but believe it will follow if you provide the best product you can.

brady forrest– MSN
“i agree with him” . Working local, virtual earth, map-hybrid, user can create an interniery on a scratchpad, save listings, add data (sounds very yahoo) immersive environment.

Q: what’s missing?

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Paul: the human element– so many constructs but it’s the tip of the iceberg.t eh valuable piece is under the surface of the water, which is people’s heads, what you use in their daily loves. User contributed content, and user personality.
shallesh– vertical is a proxy for the word deep.. how do you get depth across a variety of domains. Engaging users is one tactic. Find a way to be a catalyst to index to connect uses with the content. be fully aware it’s the early days, so be of a mind toward innovation, look for feedback, don’t be comfortable, and ask how do you connect globally?

Q: how do you differentiate when everyone can index the same stuff?
shallesh– blah blah. quickly innovate, laser focus, we dont’ in advance look for a way to do something no one can, just try to lead.
Daniel– data consistency across different data types is important. community is important– Craig’s list has broken new ground in community and in business model. use of local wikis, blog postings need to be knitted into the mix People still trust web search more than local, and that’s crazy.
brady– no one has mentioned mobile. we need to bring data to the user, when they are out there are need directions. avant go was a start, but phones are better, and there are areas that don’t have database.. it has to change.

Q” what chance does a small company have in local, what are the sweet spots to go for a small player, something you might want to aquire?

shallesh– depth. there is always room for people who have a different notion, know a different space, have a deep knowledge. local is about getting it right. the bar is higher.there is always someone with a very deep knowledge of areas, comapnies,
…like yellow pages…
yes, and also functional expertise.
Brady: also international, there is lots of room for other players. MSN will go international, but not right away
Paul: Lots of room, if only innovation comes fromthis table, I’ll be upset.
two areas 1. depth. you can think of local as a vertical, but also as a horizonatal hat goes across subverticals such as restaurants, etc. we want to work with comapnies that have a head start there.
2. advertiser side. we’re excited because of the huge amount of advertiser dollars in local… it’s hard for local businesses to understand how to use local search, so advertiser tools and services is a great area.
Daniel: destinations and agregators. to fight the big guys, you have to have something unique, something the big guys don’t have. on data aggregation side , it’s easier, all search engines are looking for sources of data (navtac model, sort of?)

Q: dodgeball’s relation?
shallesh– interesting intersection. recent aquisition, not sure.

Q: What about events? and local journalism?
brady: yup, we missed that. I’m sure you’ll see something. (what is this guy smoking?)
Daniel– yes, lots of opportunity with things like evites.. another subvertical. local search is everything to some degree– you always have a local modifier. on journalism, another set of emerging data to give users access to. micropubishing, it’s our responsibility to bring it forward.
Paul: we consider this interesting and vital. from a yahoo perspective, there is so much to do here, but you will be seeing more of this sort of content (hmm, another opportunity?)
look at northwest something for citizen journalism they are building a group newspaper.

Q: with adsense/overturn anyone make money, how can you get good local content supported with ads, local commerce?
Shallesh: from a Google perspective, it’s about delight that creates a virtuous cycle, you will figure out how to monetize. we think of it a couple ways, reaching out to local community as we do now or third party relationships. but also thinking of how do you think of an experience that allows folks to engage but not feel intimidated. if we can create a compelling experience to the end user money will appear. for smaller players, monetizing through adverting has proved to be viable.

Q: what are the ad models?
Paul: new model very much from an ad perspective. you have to build up over time, and one day the dry cleaner realizes 30%+ of his cusomters come form teh web, then it starts flowing, but that’s not now. small biz is familar with yellow page listings, so it’s comfortable to small biz. Pay per call is starting to emerge, but we are at the beginning of a long evolution. it will take a long time.

Q: d quality i.e. dead businesss, bad results..
Daniel– data quality is critical. and data quality an monetization is related. highest quality and consistency makes a difference.
Brady– as well as data traditional, blog and other user data will help improve things.

Q: user ratings? how do you get ppl involved?
Paul: critical and yahoo is an early leader. ratings are important but reviews are even more important. Knowing it’s a date or a business restaurant is real value. concentrating on richness. it can’t be just restaurants, has to be businesses, even landmarks. it’s not as big a challenge as you think– once they see it and it’s easy and comfortable, they do it. the more visible it is the more they do it. we were integrated into an episode of apprentice, to raise visibility, once people see it and start thinking about it?
Q: incentives?
Paul: we dont’ do that now. right now I’m pretty impressed with user’s willingness to participate.
shallesh: our approach is to help them find the right answer, by offering the broadest access provided across all the reviews on the web.
this is really throwing into sharp relief the difference of the Y & G perspectives

Q: Who’s truth? you are moving into the dangerous place that journalists fear to tread.
Shallesh: a great question. form Google perspective, we try not to be intrusive in the relationship of the user and the content they are accessing.
Q: how do you determine authority?
Paul: it’s a great question. we want the sf chron reviews, we want authoritative reviews. but also part of it is scanning through as a user, and determining. One tings we want to do is track authority over time. in connection with 360 we are doing this, you can see all the reviews that people have done. sense of legitimacy. but it’s still better to have 20 reviews mixed, than none.
Daniel: it’s important to have those, and then you can judge yourself who is trustworthy.
Q: can you transfer authority from bloggers to reviews? how can reputation transfer?
Paul: yahoo is doing a bunch of this. You can see how you are connected to other people, if shallesh wrote a review, I can see we have a mutual friend and that transfers authority. is this useful bubbles to the top.
Shallesh– as a point of difference, if you look for Indian restaurants, we’ll show the full gammit, and we won’t intervene across those review sets. helping users ascertain by giving them everything. good god

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