Tag Archives: Italy
The Court of Milan has rejected an appeal of a January 21/25 order requiring Google to suppress automatic search query completion suggestions associating two defamatory keywords, truffa (scam, swindle ) and truffatore (con man, crook) with a person operating in the financial services sector. While Google performs some preventive censorship based on local social and legal norms, this is at least the second time a European court has ordered the removal of phrases related to con artists & swindlers.
Figure 1: Based on a search for the plaintiff’s presumed full name & name + “t” (the last name is mentioned in the judgment), Google appears to have complied with the ruling. The plaintiff argued that Google should have applied filters proactively to avoid injuring a person’s constitutionally guarantied rights (which rights isn’t clear – honor isn’t listed in the Italian constitution) and, once notified of the problem, still took no action. Google argued that suggested queries are automatically generated based on prior user queries and thus Google is not responsible for their content. Google also argued that censoring suggestions would open it up to damage claims from those accusing it of suppressing information available on the web.
Three weeks after its initial debut, Google Instant is now available in 19 of Google’s 182 domains. Interesting tidbit: Google included Italy in its first roll-out group, but Google Instant is not yet available for the tiny city state of San Marino, which also uses Italian.
Not everyone sees Google Instant
Google Instant is only available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE 8 browsers – users with Internet Explorer 6 and 7 browsers won’t see instant. Users must be logged in to a Google service, such as Google Analytics, Gmail or Google Docs, to use Google Instant. The one exception is for searches performed on Google.com – there everyone gets access to Google Instant. Also keep in mind that users searching via a browser toolbar won’t see Google Instant until they refine their search in a returned results page.
So now that most of the uninformed hype surrounding Google Instant has been written, let’s take a hard look at what Google Instant really means for most companies and organizations.
Google Instant is an interface change
First of all, it is important to understand what Google Instant is and what it is not. Google Instant is a user interface change, it changes the way Google presents search results to Google users.
How Google Instant works
As the user types a query, Google refreshes the displayed search results which, according to Google, best respond to the query typed so far or what Google predicts the query will be based on past queries.
Yahoo! has closed some of their European directories sometime this year – their Italian and German directory URLs, e.g. http://it.dir.yahoo.com/, are now redirecting to their search page. Others may be impacted but I haven’t checked. At least the Italian directory is still in Google and Yahoo search results but not those of Bing. Yahoo Site Explorer also shows cached pages from the Italian directory with the copyright 2010; unfortunately Yahoo! doesn’t display a cache date. Other Yahoo! directories, such as the US and UK versions, are still open for business.
Figure 1: Yahoo! Directory in Italy, once upon a time
Yahoo Directory closures not really a surprise
As I’ve previously noted (see question 3), Yahoo stopped updating their German directory in 2006 and the same is probably true for Italy although they never admitted that it was closed to new entries. With Yahoo’s de-emphasis of search, and the long decline in human edited directories overall, these directory closures can’t really be much of a surprise. Yet as one who remembers using the Yahoo! directory before DEC’s Altavista, this is quite a search milestone. I might not miss you Yahoo! directory, but your passing has been noticed.
This past week the Italian antitrust authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato) conducted a search of Google’s Italian office and announced it was beginning an investigation into Google’s possible abuse of its dominant position in the Italian search engine market. The case was triggered by a complaint from the Italian Federation of News Publishers, FIEG (Federazione Italiana Editori Giornali). FIEG represents publishers of newspapers and magazines, together with press agencies.
So what’s the problem?
The news industry has struggled since the mid 1990s to figure out a profitable internet strategy. “Free” content needs to be supported by advertising revenue, yet poorly targeted banners and the like don’t pay much. Google’s indisputable success as an advertising powerhouse1 has captured the press’ attention.
The traditional August break in Italy is a wonderful time to work on projects which linger on the back burner during the rest of the year. Last August led to the release of a free keyword selection guide (in Italian); this year’s focus is a Course on using the AdWords PPC paid search marketing program.
While capturing some updated screen shots for the PPC Course, I came across an interesting example of a search marketing phenomena known as PPC or AdSense arbitrage.
Search for Milan – Rome Flights
Travel is one of the most highly competitive business sectors on the web. It shouldn’t then be a great surprise that we have 3 sponsored results (with the beige background) above the organic results in addition to the standard sponsored results on the right. The results at the top appear when there is a high chance of the ad being very profitable for Google – the maximum bid is high, as is the historic click-through rate.