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February 08, 2008

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Ex-Sensis

>>> What still amazes me is how long it takes between identifying the problem and finally getting to fix it.

It shouldn't. That assumes that they actually know how to fix the problem. The same issues that caused the problem in the first place are also the same issues that prevent it from being fixed.

There is also the assumption that it's even seen as a problem. One of the comments on the MashUp really nailed it: they're in the business of selling to advertisers, they don't make any money by giving us good search results. IIRC, billing takes into account how many times your ad is shown so there's actually an incentive for them to return as many search results as they can, regardless of relevance. Accepting payment for "priority" in search results and/or placement obviously distorts things even more.

Earl Mardle

Congratulations Ex, that is a frightening level of cynicism, I thought I was a champ at that.

I understand the desire to put adverts in front of eyeballs, I've done my stretch in commercial radio so I know where that comes from.

What I don't get is the mindset that assumes that crap services are the way to attract those eyeballs.

On the other hand, if they are totally locked into the mindset that they own the marketplace, its probably just moral hazard playing out.

Ex-Sensis

>>> Congratulations Ex, that is a frightening level of cynicism, I thought I was a champ at that.

Yes, I have been accused of being a touch cynical once or twice before :rolleyes:

>>>I understand the desire to put adverts in front of eyeballs

Ah, I may have been a little unclear. When I said "advertisers", I meant businesses and people who are placing listings in the directory, not companies placing banner ads and the like. These are the guys Sensis makes their money from and once one realizes that, what Sensis does starts to make some sense. There's no real benefit to them working to improve their search engine; where's the revenue?

>>>On the other hand, if they are totally locked into the mindset that they own the marketplace

That's exactly right. One thing that struck me when I was there was the incredible arrogance of a lot of the people there. "Best practices" and "process" coming out the wazoo, CMM certification, all validated by the fact that they make buckets of money which is obviously proof that they must be good at what they do. Pointing out that that's what tends to happen when you are effectively a monopoly and have no competitors, regardless of how good or bad you are, simply elicited a "bring 'em on, we'll kick their asses."

There was some new project starting for localized search when I was there and they genuinely believed that they were going to replace Google in that area. Dunning-Kruger effect anyone? :rotflmol:

Earl Mardle

Speaking of localised search, Terry Heaton points to Google's new localised news play

The great thing about it is that it only accesses unbundled data. You can try to OWN the local news and not be spidered by Google, or get the hits but lose the control.

On the other hand, if NYTimes can finally figure out that firewalls with pay at the door models just kill the traffic, maybe they will all get there one day.

Although I did see that Murdoch had reversed a decision to make the Wall Street Journal open, but that is more about the recession than web strategy.

Ex-Sensis

Yes, I mentioned in a comment to one of your other posts that Sensis was burdened by huge amount of "process", which is all about control. So it's hardly surprising that they are very protective of their data and would never do anything like open up an API.

Getting really OT now but an interesting discussion on alternative business models here.

Danielle Horan

Hi there Earl, you are right. We are very happy to announce the new whitepages.com.au site is up and running! Over the past few months the White Pages team has been working tirelessly on the latest improvements to enhance search results and the experience people have using the site.

If people experienced any problems with their search results during this period we apologise and welcome them to try the new search and let us know what they think.

We thank everyone who provided us with valuable feedback, as we continue to work hard as Australia’s number one most search directory. Without input from people using the site this wouldn’t be possible.

Should anyone have any further feedback, please feel free to email us at [email protected] and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.

Try it out and let us know what you think!

www.whitepages.com.au

Danielle @ Sensis

Earl Mardle

OK Danielle, this is tasty* and I sniff astroturf, but I'll leave it up because it is on the right lines.

However, what exactly am i right about? Or was that a "disarming" way to allow you to drop a "blogger release"** on the page.

Now if you really cared I'd have expected a reply to the substance and some discussion of HOW you have changed the search, not what you hope to get out of it; after all, nobody sets out to have a crap search engine.

And as for the "let us know" bit, perhaps you'd have put in some kind of link to a feedback tool, or your email address which is not, as a reader might be inclined to think [email protected]??, but [email protected]

*Tasy as in mild, medium, tasty, roquefort, 10 year old edam and gorgonzola.

** Like a press release except that, instead of cluttering the in-box with blurb, you search for all blogs talking about your company and drop the content into a comment, regardless of the actual topic under discussion and without responding to it.

Come on Danielle, this is still shouting not conversing, you CAN do better.

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