PlayerSearch Blog

by Ted Kasten, Founder of PlayerSearch

One way to capture market share in search…

…bring your search to users. According to a study completed by ComScore, MSN, AOL and Yahoo had search market shares of 39.4%, 50.0% and 46.2%, respectively, in a certain market as compared to their overall market shares of 10.3%, 4.8% and 27.8%, respectively. What was that segment of users? It was the segment of users that purchased internet access from ISPs that had partnerships with each of these companies.

The moral of the story…if you make it easier for users to use your search engine than it is to open a new browser and go to http://www.google.com (assuming it isn’t already their home page, which it is for me), then you can gain significant search traffic. This is a big reason why Toolbars are critically important and why Microsoft just struck a deal with HP to get their browser/search box installed on every PC by default (Google has done this with Dell for many years).

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June 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Google News not as dominate as Google Search

While Google continues to increase is market share in search (68% and growing; second place Yahoo is at 20% and falling), ROI Research for Doubleclick reports that more people use CNN.com to search for news than Google.  users still use many other sources to search for news.

Here are the top ten sites, with the percentage of participants who use them for news search:

  1. CNN – 57%
  2. Google – 53%
  3. MSNBC – 41%
  4. Yahoo – 40%
  5. MSN.com – 31%
  6. Foxnews.com – 25%
  7. YouTube – 22%
  8. Google News – 18%
  9. Aol.com – 15%
  10. Google Video – 14%

The report has more statistics, but it is interesting to see how different the market is for news search than it is for general search.

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yahoo: Out of the pot, into the fire

Yahoo, combined with Microsoft, had a fighting chance to compete with Google (not a great chance, but a chance; Google is en route to a dominating monopoly with search advertising, the most lucrative on-line business, just as Microsoft has with Office, the most lucrative desktop business). Now Google owns even more of the on-line advertising market.

Which of these companies should Yahoo be more worried about as a competitor on-line?

Google will surpass Windows in revenue this year and with its rapid growth may surpass Office in revenue in the not-too-distant future.

Google is incredibly smart and just landed a huge win if this passes anti-trust obstacles. Yahoo on the other hand…well, my bet is that this error will soon dwarf the $5.6 billion they wasted on the now defunct Broadcast.com. They just waived the white flag and removed themselves from the most lucrative on-line market ever.

I know there has been a lot of talk about Yahoo partnering with Google to fend off Microsoft or to force Microsoft to pay a little more…I never thought they would actually do it.  It appears Michael Arrington agrees.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch states that we are all worse off with Yahoo giving up and strengthening Google. That statement is especially true if Microsoft cedes the market to Google and stops pouring billions into their search efforts to compete. I do think Michael underestimates Microsoft’s willingness to continue to fight…these guys are the ultimate competitors…they have been around a long time, fought many battles (operating systems, applications, browsers, games and global anti-trust battles) and unlike Jerry Yang and Yahoo they never give up.

I love Google, but as a search advertiser and founder of a vertical search engine for sports (www.playersearch.com), I will have to cheer for the underdogs to keep a competitive search advertising market with multiple options for advertisers and consumers. I guess I will finally have to sign up for an Ask.com advertising account!

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Google | , | Leave a comment

ESPN loses if Google wins

Derrick Eckardt of RotoNation recently came across sports scores included at the top of Google Mobile search results (sports scores searches are dramatically higher on mobile phones than from desktops on a relative basis, so it makes sense Google would experiment with these results on their Mobile version first).

This is great for the user as they save a click (and the time required to load a new page, which is significant on mobile phones) to get their answers.


ESPN clearly loses out as they have the top ranked result and would have garnered this traffic.

Google is clearly becoming more and more of a destination site…to the detriment of ESPN and other sites.

June 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sports is the worst vertical for Google

According to the latest Hitwise traffic figures for the top search engines, Google accounts for 8.81% of traffic to sports websites, the lowest total of any category for Google. To be fair to Google, they have done very little to improve their results for sports focused searches…yet. Most of the people I talk to rarely use Google to find sports news and information because the results provided aren’t what sports fans are looking for.

I don’t expect Google to stay out of sports forever (77 million on-line users is large enough to attract some attention from Google) and Derrick Ekhardt at RotoNation reported here and here that Google has already added sports scores to its Mobile search results (they obtain these scores from an unnamed third party that I know very well). I am sure there is more to come from Google. The real question is how far will Google go to change their search results to accomodate sports content and stats and how deep will their content be. PlayerSearch will never have the brand or mindshare that Google has (does any on-line brand?), but if we can keep our search results 10x better than theirs for sports focused searches and we can make it easy for users to search PlayerSearch from their favorite sports websites, then we have a fighting chance.

Good coverage from TechCrunch here.

June 10, 2008 Posted by | Google | | Leave a comment

Worst move for vertical search ever…

Kosmix has traditionally been a vertical search for health, autos and travel.  They have made great improvements to the UI of search results and built a solid audience (the companies claims of 15mm UVs has been highly refuted as compete shows 50-100,000 UVs; although that may not count about 1mm UVs for their auto verticals).  I generally liked what Kosmix was doing in vertical search (they have a similar approach to what we are doing for the sports vertical).  TechCrunch is reporting that they are now moving to a general search engine.  Why???  They are now competing head-to-head with Google with no clear advantage or differentiation.  Worse yet, they couldn’t possible provide better search results for general searches.

June 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yahoo Search allowing users to customize UI of results

Quick write-up available at ReadWriteWeb. Not going to change the search game, but an interesting effort to improve the UI of search results (not the ranking, just the UI). The real question is how many people are going to install these customizations…my guess is a tiny fraction of people unless a killer app comes along (adding the yelp logo to the results for local searches is not a killer app and not worth the effort in my mind). This is just a start and it is open, so I hope to see this grow. I know we could improve the search results for sports players with content from www.playersearch.com.

Good coverage at TechCrunch as well. Same analysis…a lot of potential, but not there yet.

June 5, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

More innovations in search…

Here is a good TechCrunch article on the latest updates to Wikia Search. Michael Arrington hammered Jimmy Wales on his first release of Wikia Search because it fell dramatically short of incredible hype that Jimmy Wales created for it. This new release still won’t threaten Google for general search, but some of the innovations around the UI and ability for users to add or edit the search results are very cool…well worth watching the video embeded in the post.

This search model is interesting as it really leverages the user base to maintain the quality of the search results (different from employed editors such as Mahalo and certainly different than Googles algorithms).  The user base turned Wikipedia into one of the largest sites on the web, so it will be interesting to see if this will work in search.  The challenge of managing the spam will be huge…

June 4, 2008 Posted by | Innovations in Search | , | Leave a comment

Updated Coverage of Supreme Court Decision

Don Walker of the Milwaukee JournalSentinel wrote this article that was on the front page of their business section today:

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=757530

He includes a quick quote from me. I never received a cease-and-desist letter from MLB like many of my larger business partners (the Draft Analyzer includes players names and stats from our content providers, but we are well below the radar of MLB). But there was always a worry that if they did own the rights to players names that I would eventually have to get a license and pay them 7% of my top line revenue (equates to 20-30% of net income for a typical business) or that they would not provide me with a license and put me out of business entirely. With the possibility of having to give the leagues a significant chunk of my profits or be forced out of the market, I would not be able to raise enough capital for my business (i would have to give up a larger chunk of the company for less cash) and I would certainly spend less on improving my products/sites and have less incentive to take the risk of creating innovative new applications such as playersearch.com that revolve around these athletes. I could not imagine the negative effects on my business if I had to pay the major sports leagues every time someone did a search on www.playersearch.com.

Here is a CNBC interview with Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB.com:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=759532846

Here is a Fox Business News interview with Charlie Wiegert, Founder of CDM and defender of the free fantasy sports world:

http://glickreport.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2008/06/03/a-fantasy-win/

Derrick Ekardt at RotoNation has some good links as well.

June 3, 2008 Posted by | Supreme Court | Leave a comment

Supreme Court denies hearing for MLB case

It appears that MLB has exhausted its chances to overrule two previous court rulings that stated player statistics and the player names associated with those statistics are in the public domain. It was pretty incredible watching this case from the very beginning all the way to the Supreme Court. CDM Sports has been a business partner of mine since 2005 and they have been great people to work with. As a board member of the FSTA, I was also involved in the decision to fund three briefs on behalf of CDM Sports and the fantasy sports industry in general…so I have watched this case closely from start to finish. (can’t believe MLB brought it all the way to the Supreme Court…but if you look at the economics of it it isn’t that surprising that they refused to give up…although their legal expenses are reportedly well over $2 million, the value of owning the rights to players names is worth ten times that; in fact ESPN reportedly opted out of a seven-year, $140 million deal with MLBAM after 3 years after MLBAM lost its appeal in late 2007).

I wrote about this case previously here.

Charlie Wiegert, a business partner of mine and colleague on the FSTA board, deserves full credit for taking on and beating MLB by himself. It cost him high six figures to defend his business and he had to do it alone (larger companies that could afford to cover legal fees such as ESPN, Yahoo, and SportsLine already had licenses from MLBAM and also had more important TV deals with MLB and the NFL; smaller companies like mine could only afford to pray for Charlie and offer him a beer at the next FSTA conference).

Rudy Telscher, lead counsel for CDM, also deserves a lot of credit. He spoke a couple of times (when legally practicle) at the FSTA conferences and it was clear he understood an incredible amount of detail and every little nuance of this case and related cases. This was nothing short of a David versus Goliath effort and accomplishment.

It will be very interesting to see what happens to the partnership between MLB and MLBAM after this. In 2005, MLBAM paid MLB $50 million to acquire the on-line rights to players, including for fantasy sports purposes. This isn’t exactly an arms length transaction as MLBAM is a subsidiary of MLB, but it is clear that a significant chunk of those on-line rights are now worth a lot less. MLB.com is still in great shape (13mm Unique Visitors in April; top 5 sports destination) and can continue to grow by adding games, video, content and other innovations that draw customers to its site.

I will post further information here as I get it. Charlie recently started his own blog which is here. It sounds like Charlie is getting ready for TV interviews at this point so he may not get a chance to blog about this until later.

More coverage by RotoNation here and here. I just spoke with Don Walker at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Don is writing an article that will be in the print edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tomorrow (my favorite hometown paper).

June 2, 2008 Posted by | Supreme Court | | Leave a comment