News or Speculation: Google and a Big Euro Fine?

June 7, 2017

I read “Google in Trouble? Company May Face $9 billion EU Fine over Its Shopping Service.” The headline surprised me. I had forgotten that Google failed with Froogle and never got its talons in the back of Amazon. But there you go. Google and shopping.

The write up grabs the weasel word “may” and goes to town. I learned from the write up:

In April 2015, the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager accused the company of cheating consumers and competitors by distorting internet search results to favor its own shopping service. The latest development comes after a seven-year investigation into Google following complaints raised by both US and European rivals.

The magic $9 billion comes from a news report from the always on the beam real news outfit Thomson Reuters. Here’s the passage I highlighted in True Blue:

If found guilty of breaching EU antitrust rules, fines for companies can reach up to 10% of their global turnover. And, in case of Google, the fine could be about $9bn (£6.99bn) of its 2016 turnover, a Reuters report said. In addition to the fine, the Commission could also tell Google to stop its anti-competitive practices.

Bad Google.

Now about that shopping service. The service is number one with a bullet when I searched Google for “Google Shopping.” In case you have never looked at this service, you can navigate to the site by clicking on the image below:

image

What’s available to me in rural Kentucky? I ran a query for PCI eSATA RAID cards and here are the results:

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That first result is not a card; it is a rack mounted one mu uninterruptable power supply. Not exactly a PCI card.

The other results were not too useful. None of the items was a PCI RAID card. (I know these exist because there is one in my server named Fred.)

image

From a practical point of view, Google Shopping does not seem to meet my needs. With the alleged $9 billion fine hanging over the GOOG, I wonder if any of the lawyers involved in this have checked out the service.

Google Shopping is, in my opinion, not going to lure me from sites which deliver on point results for the type of stuff I buy. Maybe Google makes oodles from one mu rack mounted UPS devices, but offering that product just drives me to Pricewatch.com.

Your mileage may vary. It certainly does for the folks in Europe it seems. What about Amazon? Guess that service is less of an offender. Surprising.

Stephen E Arnold, June 7, 2017

Google Shoots for Star Status in the Cloud Space

February 21, 2017

Competition continues in the realm of cloud technology. Amigo Bulls released an article, Can Google Cloud Really Catch Up With The Cloud Leaders?, that highlights how Google Cloud is behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. However, some recent wins for Google are also mentioned. One way Google is gaining steam is through new clients; they signed Spotify and even some of Apple’s iCloud services are moving to Google Cloud. The article summarizes the current state,

Alphabet Inc’s-C (NSDQ:GOOG) Google cloud has for a long time lived in relative obscurity. Google Cloud results do not even feature on the company’s quarterly earnings report the way AWS does for Amazon (NSDQ:AMZN) and Azure for Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT). This appears somewhat ironic considering that Google owns one of the largest computer and server networks on the planet to handle tasks such as Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail. Further, the Google Cloud Platform is actually cheaper than offerings by the two market leaders.

Enterprise accounts with legacy systems will likely go for Microsoft as a no-brainer given the familiarity factor and connectivity. Considering the enterprise sector will make up a large portion of cloud customers, Amazon is probably Google’s toughest competition. Spotify apparently moved to Google from Amazon because of the quality tools, including machine-learning, and excellence in customer service. We will continue following whether Google Cloud makes it as high in the sky as its peers.

Megan Feil, February 21, 2017

Creating a Product Taxonomy Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

February 16, 2017

The article on PRWeb titled WAND, Inc. Announces the Launch of the WAND eCommerce Taxonomy Portal discusses the breakthrough in classification technology from WAND. WAND Inc. is a Denver-based company that has been around since 1938 and holds a tight grip on industry vertical taxonomies, business taxonomies, and specialty domain taxonomies.

Users of the WAND eCommerce Taxonomy Portal can select from a content library of more than 44,000 hierarchical categories, 70,000 attributes, and over 260,000 attribute values to jump-start a taxonomy. Tools to customize the category hierarchy and attribute templates are simple to use and the pre-defined content can be augmented with new categories and attributes to efficiently build a custom taxonomy. The resulting custom product taxonomy can be exported into any common data format for import into product information management software or ecommerce platforms.

Perfect for retail, ecommerce, procurement, MDM, and manufacturing companies, the eCommerce Taxonomy Portal provides a foundation to build on, and averts the painstaking process of building classifications up from scratch. Mark Leher, WAND’s COO, is quoted in the article defining the web-based applications place in the master data management arena. He explains that it can be used to speed up taxonomy projects by empowering users to simply edit, rather than start from the very beginning.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 16, 2017

Improve Your B2B Search with Klevu

January 6, 2017

Ecommerce sites rely on a strong search tool to bring potential customers to their online stores and to find specific products without a hassle.  B2B based companies have the same goal, but they need an entire different approach although they still rely on search.  If you run a B2B company, you might want to take a gander at Klevu and their solutions: “Search Requirements For A B2B Retailer.”

In the blog post, Klevu explains that B2B companies have multiple customer groups that allow different pricing, products, discounts, etc.  The customers see prices based on allocation from the store, but they cannot use a single price for every item.  Search is also affected by this outcome.  Klevu came out with the Klevu Magneto plugin to:

With the help of our partners and our in-house expertise, we came up with a solution that allows such group prices to automatically work with Klevu. The Klevu Magneto plugin fetches the group prices and, at the time of showing the search results, Klevu’s JavaScript determines the relevant price for rendering. We’ve also ensure that this works in Ajax / quick search as well, as this was an important requirement.

The Klevu Magneto plugin also has an SKU search option, maintaining the same landing page within search results, and instant faceted search.  Klevu researched the issues that its B2B customers had the most problems with and created solutions.  They are actively pursuing ways to resolve bothersome issues that pop up and this is just the start for them.

Whitney Grace, January 6, 2017

EasyAsk Guarantees Revenue Boost with Its eCommerce Search System

November 26, 2016

I read “How EasyAsk Will Help You Drive 23 to 121% Higher eCommerce Revenues: Guaranteed.” The headline is quite different from most search vendors’ announcements. Search vendors, in my experience, do not guarantee anything: Uptime, fees, performance. EasyAsk, a natural language search technology vendor, is guaranteeing more eCommerce revenues. Like most information available online, I assume that the facts are correct.

I highlighted this statement:

Within 90 days of the EasyAsk implementation, 95% of internal searches were returning the right results – nearly eliminating the dreaded no-results pages. The results have been outstanding;

  • Search conversion has increased by 54%
  • Revenue from search has seen a boost of over 71%
  • Transactions are up 81%

Unlike SOLR, EasyAsk offers powerful merchandising tools that are intuitive, easy-to-use and maintained by business users instead of programmers.

Now the “guarantee” part:

We [EasyAsk] will contractually guarantee that EasyAsk will drive at least 20% more revenue from search.

Here’s how:

  • We will take a baseline benchmark measuring revenue, conversion rate and average transactions on your existing search engine.
  • We will work with you to deploy and implement EasyAsk’s eCommerce suite to provide you with advanced Natural Language semantic search and merchandising.
  • Within 90 days of implementation, we will perform a new benchmark that measures revenue, conversion rate and average transactions and compare them with the original baseline. EasyAsk will contractually guarantee to drive at least 20% more revenue.

The write up explains that there is no risk to the eCommerce vendor who embraces EasyAsk.

There you go. A New Year’s gift which is six weeks early.

Stephen E Arnold, November 26, 2016

Dark Web Marketplaces Are Getting Customer Savvy

November 17, 2016

Offering on Dark Web marketplaces are getting weirder by the day. Apart from guns, ammo, porn, fake identities, products like forged train tickets are now available for sale.

The Guardian in an investigative article titled Dark Web Departure: Fake Train Tickets Go on Sale Alongside AK-47s reveals that:

At least that’s the impression left by an investigation into the sale of forged train tickets on hidden parts of the internet. BBC South East bought several sophisticated fakes, including a first-class Hastings fare, for as little as a third of their face value. The tickets cannot fool machines but barrier staff accepted them on 12 occasions.

According to the group selling these tickets, the counterfeiting was done to inflict financial losses on the operators who are providing deficient services. Of course, it is also possible that the fake tickets are used by people (without criminalistics inclinations) who do not want to pay for the full fares.

One school of thought also says that like online marketplaces on Open Web, Dark Web marketplaces are also getting customer-savvy and are providing products and services that the customers need or want. This becomes apparent in this portion of the article:

The academics say the sites, once accessed by invitation or via dark-web search engines (there’ll be no hyperlinks here) resemble typical marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay, and that customer service is improving. “Agora was invitation-only but many of these marketplaces are easily accessible if you know how to search,” Dr Lee adds. “I think any secondary school student who knows how to use Google could get access – and that’s the danger of it.

One of the most active consumer group on Dark Web happens to be students, who are purchasing anything from fake certificates to hacker services to improve their grades and attendance records. Educational institutions, as well as law enforcement officials, are worried about this trend. And as more people get savvy with Dark Web, this trend is going to strengthen creating a parallel e-commerce, albeit a dark one.

Vishal Ingole, November  17, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Black-Hat SEO Tactics Google Hates

November 16, 2016

The article on Search Engine Watch titled Guide to Black Hat SEO: Which Practices Will Earn You a Manual Penalty? follows up on a prior article that listed some of the sob stories of companies caught by Google using black-hat practices. Google does not take kindly to such activities, strangely enough. This article goes through some of those practices, which are meant to “falsely manipulate a website’s search position.”

Any kind of scheme where links are bought and sold is frowned upon, however money doesn’t necessarily have to change hands… Be aware of anyone asking to swap links, particularly if both sites operate in completely different niches. Also stay away from any automated software that creates links to your site. If you have guest bloggers on your site, it’s good idea to automatically Nofollow any links in their blog signature, as this can be seen as a ‘link trade’.

Other practices that earned a place on the list include automatically generated content, cloaking and irrelevant redirects, and hidden text and links. Doorway pages are multiple pages for a key phrase that lead visitors to the same end destination. If you think these activities don’t sound so terrible, you are in great company. Mozilla, BMW, and the BBC have all been caught and punished by Google for such tactics. Good or bad? You decide.

Chelsea Kerwin, November 16, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Oh No! The Ads Are Becoming Smarter

November 15, 2016

I love Christmas and subsequent holiday season, although I am tired of it starting in October.  Thankfully the holiday music does not start playing until Thanksgiving week, as do the ads, although they have been sneaking into the year earlier and earlier.   I like the fact that commercials and Internet ads are inanimate objects, so I can turn them off.  IT Pro Portal tells me, however, that I might be in for a Christmas nightmare; “IBM’s Watson Now Used In Native Advertising” or the ads are becoming smarter!

While credit card expenditures, browsing history, and other factors are already used for individualized, targeted ads, they still remain a static tool dependent on external factors.  Watson is going to try be tried in the advertising game to improve targeting in native advertising.   Watson will add an aesthetic quality too:

The difference is – it’s not just looking at keywords as the practice was so far – it’s actually looking at the ad, determining what it’s about and then places it where it believes is a good fit. According to the press release, Watson “looks at where, why and how the existing editorial content on each site is ‘talking about’ subjects”, and then makes sure best ads are placed to deliver content in proper context.

Another way Watson’s implementation in advertising is “semantic targeting AI for native advertising.”  It will work in real-time and deliver more individualized targeted ads, over your recent Amazon, eBay, and other Web site shopping.  It is an interesting factor how Watson can disseminate all this information for one person, but if you imagine that the same technology is being used in the medical and law fields, it does inspire hope.

Whitney Grace, November 15, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Online Drugs Trade Needs Surgical Strikes

October 25, 2016

Despite shutdown of Silk Road by the FBI in 2013, online drug trade through Dark Net is thriving. Only military-precision like surgical strikes on vendors and marketplaces using technological methods can solve this problem.

RAND Corporation in its research papaer titled Taking Stock of the Online Drugs Trade says that –

Illegal drug transactions on cryptomarkets have tripled since 2013, with revenues doubling. But at $12-21 (€10.5-18.5) million a month, this is clearly a niche market compared to the traditional offline market, estimated at $2.3 (€2) billion a month in Europe alone.

The primary goal of the research paper was to determine first, the size and scope of cryptomarkets and second, to device avenues for law enforcement agencies to intervene these illegal practices. Though the report covered the entire Europe, the role of Netherlands, in particular, was studied in this report. This was owing to the fact that Netherlands has the highest rate of consumption of drugs acquired using cryptomarkets.

Some interesting findings of the report include –

  • Though revenues have doubled, drug cryptomarkets are still niche and generate revenues of $21 million/month as compared to $2.1 billion in offline trade.
  • Cannabis still is the most in demand followed by stimulants like cocaine and ecstasy-type drugs
  • Vendors from US, Australia, Canada and Western Europe dominate the online marketplace

Apart from following the conventional methods of disrupting the drug trade (dismantling logistics, undercover operations, and taking down marketplaces), the only new method suggested includes the use of Big Data techniques.

Cryptomarkets are going to thrive, and the only way to tackle this threat is by following the money (in this case, the cryptocurrencies). But who is going to bell the cat?

Vishal Ingole, October 25, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

eBay and Corrigon: Heading in the Right Direction?

October 14, 2016

I find eBay fascinating. Many things for sale; for example, $3,000 Teddy bears. I wonder what those are.

I read “eBay to Acquire Corrigon Ltd.” Interesting. I learned about Corrigon, an Israel-based image search and analysis outfit, about seven years ago. The company’s technology can “look” at a digital image and recognize objects in the image. Coirrigon’s pitch, as I recall it, introduced me to the concept of “dynamic browsing.” I thought most browsing was, by definition, was dynamic, but why ask questions which marketers cannot or will not answer. The buzzwords are the intellectual food which gives me Delhi belly.

One application of Corrigon’s technology is to identify objects in a photo can create a link to a shopping site where one can purchase that object. For instance, I am looking at this image:

image

The Corrigon system will, in theory, point me to this type of entry on another Web site:

image

What if I really want the model’s shirt? Well, that may be an issue.

Corrigon has some law enforcement and intelligence applications as well. My hunch is that eBay wants to allow a person to see something, buy something.

The method adds layers and performs image parsing. The method is fine but the approach can add compute cycles. Latency when shopping is a bit of brown bread.

The write up informed me that:

Corrigon’s technology and expertise will contribute to eBay’s efforts with image recognition, classification and image enhancements as part of its structured data initiative. There are three parts to eBay’s structured data initiative: first, collect the data; second, process and enrich the data; and third, create product experiences.Corrigon will support the second and third parts – processing and enriching the data and creating product experiences.

Let’s think about how an eBay user accesses information in the digital flea market now. A person navigates to the site and plugs in keywords. The system then generates a bewildering array of options and some listings. A user then scans and clicks the laundry list of listing. Then the user reads individual listings. Then the user presumably buys the best listing. Heaven help the user who needs to hunt for the link to ask the seller a question. Etc. etc. etc.

eBay’s purchase of Corrigon is going to make eBay into a zippier shopping experience. Well, that’s the theory.

eBay’s challenge is my fave Craigslist and obviously the Bezos beastie. I asked myself, “Perhaps eBay should do some interface work and poke around its core search functionality?”

Stephen E Arnold, October 14, 2016

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