Google Coupons the Start of Something Bigger

Back in July, I looked at a patent from Google that described issuing coupons from stores in Google’s Holy Grail of Shopping? It appears that Google has taken the first of what could be a number of steps towards making the processes described in that patent come true, with news that they are enabling advertisers to add coupons to their listings in Google Maps.

Danny Sullivan captures a lot of the details about this new service in Google Maps Gets Coupons

The patent, Generating and/or serving dynamic promotional offers such as coupons and advertisements, does a great job of laying out some possible next steps and detailing how these types of discount offerings could be expanded to make Google Local a great avenue for small businesses to attract customers. Check out my previous post on the patent for some of those possibilities.

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Some Pictures from Sonoma, San Francisco, and San Jose

Now that I’ve had a chance to catch a little shut-eye after a restless late night flight from the San Francisco Airport to Baltimore Friday night, I’ve been able to sort through the pictures I took on the trip. I bought a new camera the day I began my journey, and I’m still getting used to it, so sadly many of my pictures were a litle too blurry to share. But some of them turned out ok, and a sampling of those appear below.

I had a great time in California, many chances to share some time with old friends and to make new ones, and the opportunity to exchange some ideas with a lot of sharp folks. Thanks to everyone who made this trip and conference such an enjoyable visit to the west coast. Here are some images from my visit:

Barry Swain and I relaxing at a winery
Before traveling to the Search Engine Strategies Conference, I had the chance to spend a few days touring around San Francisco, including a trip to some wineries in Sonoma Valley. Here’s a picture of me and one of my hosts, Barry Swain, relaxing in front of a wine tasting room.

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IBM Granted Patent for Pagerank

At the Eleventh International World Wide Web Conference, a poster from John Tomlin, Andrew Tomkins, Jasmine Novak, and Arvind Arasu was presented titled PageRank Computation and the Structure of the Web: Experiments and Algorithms (pdf). The first three authors wrote the paper as IBM employees, and co-author Arvind Arasu is listed on the document as a member of the Computer Science Department at Stanford University.

Three of those four authors are listed as the inventors of a newly granted patent which describes a way to rapidly compute pagerank, which was filed with the US Patent Office around the same time as the presentation of the paper. John Tomlin and Andrew Tomkins are now at Yahoo, and Arvind Arasu is a researcher at Microsoft.

System and method for rapid computation of PageRank
Invented by John Anthony Tomlin, Andrew S. Tomkins, and Arvind Arasu
Assigned to IBM
US Patent 7,089,252
Granted August 8, 2006
Filed April 25, 2002

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Google Indentifies Navigation Bars for Small Screens, Snippets, and Indexing

More and more people are using smaller devices to look at web pages, and even the search engines are looking at ways to serve pages that can be easily seen by someone using a handheld device.

A patent granted to Google this past week takes a look at navigation bars, and tries to understand how to rewrite some navigation bars without any significant loss in understanding by a visitor to a site.

While this is something that Google can use on their own pages, why might Google be concerned about navigation bars appearing on sites that they have no direct control over?

For one thing, we are told early on in the patent that being able to identify a navigation bar may be helpful when they try to decide which text to index and to display in a “snippet search result.” Another is that through an interface like the one that Google uses for its WAP Proxy (more below), you can visit sites on a handheld that aren’t designed for smaller screens.

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Goodbye SES San Jose

I’m packing my bags, to prepare for a flight tonight back to the east coast, after an enjoyable and educational week in San Jose at the Search Engine Strategies Conference.

The crew at Search Engine Roundtable, Barry, Ben, Lee, and Chris, have done a great job of providing information about the many sessions held over the four days of the conference, including a write up of the session I participated within.

I had a chance to talk with a good number of people during the conference, and really had a great time meeting folks, talking about some future plans of working together in one way or another in some instances, and sharing ideas about search and search engines, marketing, and the industry as a whole.

The sessions I attended were informative and inspirational, and I’m having difficulties deciding which I enjoyed the most. I did get a chance to go to some of the parties held in San Jose, including the Google Dance and Webmaster Radio’s SearchBlast.

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Google as a Recommendation System

I’ll be presenting later today at the Search Engine Strategies at San Jose, and the session I’m talking at involves Search Algorithms and the patents and whitepapers that describe them.

My presentation will focus upon Google as a recommendation system. With some fortunate timing, Google had a new patent granted today, which describes how Google could be used as a recommendation system when it comes to ecommerce.

Interface and system for providing persistent contextual relevance for commerce activities in a networked environment

Invented by Donald R. Turnbull and Hinrich Schuetze
Assigned to Google
United States Patent 7,089,237
Granted August 8, 2006
Filed: January 26, 2001

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Attending Wordcamp 2006 and SES San Jose 2006

One of the things that I don’t get to do on the east coast of the United States is to go to some of the more spontaneous events happening in the world of the Internet and web development.

But, after a red-eye flight to the west coast ending yesterday at the San Francisco Airport around noon, I find myself with the luxury of signing up for WordCamp 2006. This is a day long conference for users and developers of wordpress software, which happens tomorrow, Saturday – August 5th, 2006, from 9 AM – 6 PM, with a 8:30 PM after-party. The location is the Swedish American Hall, San Francisco CA. The conference is free, and it could be fun to have the ability to provide some input into the future growth of wordpress. There’s a big list of suggested sessions, and it should be fun to discuss many of those topics with people who are passionate on the subect.

I’ll be in San Jose next week at the Search Engine Strategies Conference, speaking on Tuesday afternoon alongside Rand Fishkin of Seomoz and Jon Glick of become.com, in a presentation on Search Algorithm Research.

My part of the presentation will be focusing upon how the analysis of queries from users is playing a stronger role in what the search engines serve, how they collect information from users, and how they could expand their personalization efforts by looking at information outside of the interaction they have with their users.

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AOL Open Research Information Retrieval Wiki

I received an email on Sunday night from Dr. Abdur Chowdhury of AOL, who asked me if I would take a look at a new site that the folks at AOL have put together. I haven’t had much of a chance to look at the site, but what I’ve seen so far, I like very much.

I’m hoping that I can get some comments here, about these new wiki pages from AOL, if you have some time. The site is still in alpha, but they are welcoming comments there, too.

‘http://research.aol.com/pmwiki/” (Note: this research was removed after controversy over the release of data contained there.)

There’s some great information there, like 500K user queries, collected over a three month span. There’s also a nice set of publications, including more than a couple co-authored by Dr. Chowdhury.

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