MediaFile

Google, Halliburton and an ‘oops’ moment

It was a rare “oops” moment at Google on Wednesday when Senior Competition Counsel Dana Wagner explained why he feels good about working at Google, even after working at the Justice Department.

A few hours earlier, Google confirmed that it had received a formal notice from Justice seeking information on Google’s deal with book publishers, which would make millions of books available on line. That’s on top of two other matters involving Google that are being looked at by U.S. antitrust authorities.

Google convened the press to show that it opens its products to competition instead of protecting them. Google has been giving similar briefings since February to reporters and congressional staffers.

Wagner had nothing new to add about the Justice Department, but he did take a moment to tell reporters that he felt good about working at Google because it takes the high road on competition.

It was the way he put it that required a little massaging.

“There are a lot of companies in which I wouldn’t do this job, right?” he told a dozen or so reporters at a Google office in San Francisco. “I spent seven years in the government. I very much believe in the message and the mission of the Justice Department. I would not be doing this at Halliburton, right?”

Obama’s Googler draws fire

Forget about the Supreme Court nomination battle. President Barack Obama’s reported pick for the seemingly uncontroversial job of deputy chief technology officer is drawing fire.******A pair of consumer advocacy groups sent the White House a letter on Wednesday urging the administration not to appoint Google’s Andrew McLaughlin to the post, a move reported to be in works by several media outlets.******McLaughlin is Google’s director of global public policy. That means he has been “responsible for Google’s worldwide lobbying efforts,” said the letter from Consumer Watchdog and Center for Digital Democracy.******Obama has issued an executive order barring anyone who has worked as a lobbyist in the past two years from serving in a federal agency that they lobbied.******McLaughlin was last registered as a lobbyist in 2007, the groups said — that might soon avoid the two year ban on technical grounds, but it violates the intent of the ban. And the groups note that the statement of organization for Google’s political action committee from March 2009 lists McLaughlin as its assistant treasurer and its designated agent.******A Google spokesman said that McLaughlin was mistakenly listed as a lobbyist in 2007 and that Google filed an amended disclosure form in 2008 correcting the filing when the company realized that he did not meet the threshold for lobbyist, which includes spending 20 percent of an individual’s time in direct contact with members of Congress.******Google has proven to be a bit of a feeder to the Obama White House. Katie Stanton, the White House director of citizen participation, is a former Google project manager. Sonal Shah, the erstwhile head of global development at Google.org, now heads White House Office of Social Innovation.******And of course, Google CEO Eric Schmidt serves on Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.******Meanwhile, Google is the subject of various federal inquiries and investigations. The latest involves hiring practices among various Silicon Valley firms. ******There have been reports that some of the noise about Google’s ties to the White House bears the fingerprints of Google competitors, like Microsoft.******Consumer Watchdog and Center for Digital Democracy officials both said they have no affiliation or financing from Microsoft, or any other corporation.******CDD Executive Director Jeffrey Chester said he first learned of the potential McLaughlin appointment after receiving an unsolicited e-mail with a news article on the subject from a Microsoft “political person.” He said he would have seen the article anyway and has had no subsequent communication with the person.******The consumer groups say their beef with McLaughlin has nothing to do with the fact that he is a Googler.******”The problem is that he has been a lobbyist for the biggest digital marketing company in the world, and we believe no special-interest connected person should assume a position of vital important to the country’s future,” reads the letter.******”It would be just as inappropriate for a lobbyist from Microsoft, Yahoo or any other similar technology company to be appointed Deputy Chief Technology Officer.”******(Photo: Reuters)

First Bing ad airs tonight

Microsoft launches the first wave of the publicity campaign for its new search engine Bing tonight, with a prime time ad linking the recent financial chaos with small animals tapping on keyboards. At least that’s what it looks like:

The reasoning is questionable, but Microsoft won’t care as long as it gets people talking about its new product — which is fully available from today at www.bing.com — and ultimately gets them to utter the word ‘bing’ as a verb.

The first spot, made by ad agency JWT, is called ‘Manifesto’ and will hit in the middle of top shows such as CSI:NY tonight.

Bad-a-bing! Microsoft unveils new search engine

The worst-kept secret in tech was finally made public as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer lifted the wraps off the company’s new search engine: Bing.

The revamped engine, intended to take a bite out of Google’s dominance, is being rolled out over the next few days, with a full launch next Wednesday.

Here are a few screenshots to tide you over until then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

from Summit Notebook:

Yahoo cedes search game to Google, for now

(Updated with more quotes)

If you're losing the game, time to change the playing field. Yahoo is counting on exactly that.

Ari Balogh, Yahoo's chief technology officer and product development czar, would be among the first to admit that Google reigns supreme in the search space.

"Search the way we know it, with 10 blue links, Google has clearly won that game. Saying anything other than that is just not stating the fact," he told the Reuters Global Technology Summit.

Google disruption sets Web users atwitter

A minor panic spread across the Internet on Thursday after Google suffered what appeared to be a temporary service outage.

Reports cropped up throughout the Web that Google’s search engine, as well as popular services like Gmail and Google Analytics were running slowly or not at all in various parts of the world on Thursday morning.

And the incident caused ripples that slowed down other Web sites.

Because many online firms have woven javascript applications like Google Analytics – which provides analysis of a site’s traffic – into their Web sites, the Google outage impacted their own sites. Imad Mouline, the CTO of Web performance monitoring firm Gomez said his company noticed that certain sites took between two times and four times longer to load because of links to Google applications on Thursday morning.

Google makes a TV ad

Google built its business on the advertising shift from traditional media, like TV and newspapers, to the Internet.

But as Google strives to jump-start its fledgling Chrome Web browser, the company apparently still sees value in good old-fashioned mediums like broadcast television.

Google said it would begin advertising Chrome on various TV networks beginning this weekend.

Microsoft’s big man on campus

Steve Ballmer knows how to pack a house.

Stanford University’s Memorial Hall was filled to its almost 2,000 capacity on Wednesday, as the voluble Microsoft CEO took the stage.

For the MBAs and engineering students who showed up, the event was a chance to get inspiration from the chief of one of the world’s most powerful corporations (and from someone who dropped out of Stanford Business School to join Microsoft). The press in attendance was mainly interested in comments Ballmer might make about Yahoo.

Indeed, with Microsoft and Yahoo reportedly in talks about a search partnership, speculation has risen in the blogosphere that Ballmer and Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz would have a sit-down during his swing through the Bay Area.

Google’s Mayer on how to write online news

Just about everyone has thrown a thought or two by now into the great bubbling pot of stew that is the future of journalism. Latest in line is Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products and user experience.Mayer, one of Google’s earliest employees who gets reams of newsprint in Silicon Valley for her cupcake spreadsheets and love of Oscar de la Renta, spoke before a Senate subcommittee on a future of journalism hearing on Wednesday.Apart from defending Google, which has come under attack from the news industry — most notably the Associated Press — for profiting from content, Mayer gave some tips on how journalists should write their stories.Mayer talked about something she called the “atomic unit of consumption” — a news article rather than an entire newspaper, much like one song downloaded digitally instead of buying an entire album. Here’s an excerpt from her prepared testimony:

The atomic unit of consumption for existing media is almost always disrupted by emerging media. For example, digital music caused consumers to think about their purchases as individual songs rather than as full albums. Digital and on-demand video has caused people to view variable-length clips when it is convenient for them, rather than fixed-length programs on a fixed broadcast schedule.Similarly, the structure of the Web has caused the atomic unit of consumption for news to migrate from the full newspaper to the individual article. As with music and video, many people still consume physical newspapers in their original full-length format. But with online news, a reader is much more likely to arrive at a single article. While these individual articles could be accessed from a newspaper’s homepage, readers often click directly to a particular article via a search engine or another Website.

Mayer then went on to suggest that reporters and editors need to think differently about how they write for online:

Treating the article as the atomic unit of consumption online has several powerful consequences. When producing an article for online news, the publisher must assume that a reader may be viewing this article on its own, independent of the rest of the publication.To make an article effective in a standalone setting requires providing sufficient context for first-time readers, while clearly calling out the latest information for those following a story over time. It also requires a different approach to monetization: each individual article should be self-sustaining. These types of changes will require innovation and experimentation in how news is delivered online, and how advertising can support it.

So wait, now the big bad wolf is counseling Little Red Riding Hood before gobbling her up for dinner? Maybe Google and news publishers can be friends… or at least frenemies. Read Mayer’s full testimony here.Keep an eye on:

    Online video site Hulu signs its first international TV content deals. (Financial Times) Former CNBC host lands at MSNBC. (Associated Press) Hear it once and for all: Twitter is not for sale. (Reuters)

(Photo: Actress Brooke Shields portrays Little Red Riding Hood at a charity fundraiser/Reuters)

AOL’s Tim Armstrong’s more worried about Main St than Wall St

AOL’s recently appointed chief executive, Tim Armstrong, has only been in place for three weeks but Wall Street is waiting impatiently for his next move. He’s started to shake up the ad team. Investors are focused on when parent company Time Warner will spin off the Internet unit, which has lost favor with Wall Street, advertisers and users alike.

Armstrong, gave his first interview since starting on April 1 to Ad Age Editor Jonah Bloom at the 4A’s advertising conference in San Francisco. Though he has declined doing interviews since he joined, AOL’s communications people said Armstrong was keeping a commitment he’d made while he still at Google.

The three-part interview can be seen at Ad Age here. The fireside chat covered topics like AOL’s branding, AOL’s undervalued ad space, and how Armstrong had to leave Google by the tradesman’s entrance on his last day.