What is ‘Real-Time’ search? And why should I care?

google logo

So you’ve heard of real-time search yet? If you haven’t, you will in the next 30-60 days. Its the newest iteration of search and its actually quite different in that you can compare and contrast the 2  ‘search’ methods like a river and an ocean. RTS (real-time search) is like a blast of information that you first retrieve in real time and then this information gets crawled and categorized on the web for permanent storage and retrieval by you or I. Similar to a financial stock trade, RTS happens in realtime, without the information being stored, processed or archived or categorized. Then once the information gets handed off to traders who need it ASAP, it gets archived for retrieval later. So, the same set of data is retrieved in RT as can be found later archived on the web – river and the ocean ( a great metaphor – Thanks to Gerry Campbell, CEO of Collecta).


So Google amasses data, stores it, catagorizes the information for future retrival and serves it up upon your request. RTS happens before this – it happens the instant its published on the web. So retriving, storing and ranking data is not part of RTS. That’s traditional search as we know it. So the value to this new search algoythym is that there is no lag time for the latest information. Its just there and it DOES give us a great deal of value. Using the plane that went down in the Hudson River a bit ago as an example. The very 1st report and photo came froma twitter feed, not a website that spouts news, i.e. CNN, etc. The final few moments of the Lakers playoff games and score where captured in RT on twitter. The final score reported on the cover of Yahoo a mere 15 minutes after the games end. American Idol winner?   So this information is helpful (but not essential) to know ASAP. So, being able to search social media ‘chatter’ (I call it) becomes something very ‘now’ and ‘immediate’. It brings together the traditional web and a users social graph so to speak. Every month, something like 200 million users log-in and chat on Facebook, 46 million users tweet, and many more IM each other or text about something. This ‘something’ is now getting captured and offered up to us in RT. The combo of the two systems is really where it comes all together. RT search is not social search either. You don’t just get RT search because you ‘crawl’ facebook, friendfeed and twitter chatter.  RT search is NOT replacing traditional search – its an add on component that will allow us to further monetize the phenomenon known to all of us as the internet. The list below will only grow exponentially in the coming months. The race is on to master RTS.

http://collecta.com/ – the one to beat for right now – collects all feeds below and then some
http://www.oneriot.com/ – searches Twitter, Digg and other social sharing services
http://tweetmeme.com/ – searches twitter and re-tweets popular tweets on twitter
http://search.twitter.com/ – searches twitter directly
http://www.scoopler.com/  – searches Twitter, Flickr, Digg, Delicious
http://blogsearch.google.com/ – search the web and only blogs
http://friendfeed.com/ – filters search results by who my frineds are and what they are saying on twitter, friendfeed

What’s really behind Microsoft’s proposed takeover of Yahoo?

A long time ago, in another galaxy far, far away (1997), before there was a popular engine named ‘Google’ there was a search engine called GoTo.com. gotologo1.gif GoTo was one of the dot-com’s that idealab! idealab_logo.gif started in the early days of the internet, pre-March 2002 meltdown. GoTo occupied office space right next to the lab where I was working at the time, in young and fashionable downtown Pasadena. A lot of people scoffed at Bill Gross’ notion of using a bidding mechanism for advertisers within a web search engine when you entered a search term. The notion that you could ‘buy’ your ad placement to be displayed when users searched for something was totally out of line with the norm of the time. AltaVista, Lycos, and the other big search engines that dominated the landscape then did NOT use this new-fangled algorithm that GoTo adopted to allow what amounted to a virtual bidding war in a cloud for the top spot where your ad was seen when you searched for ANYTHING. GoTo basically did a ‘branding’ act for its first year. Didn’t really have too many advertisers and no one really looked at what they were doing seriously. Then, to increase its mass, it landed a deal with then search giant database Inktomi in June of 1998. Now when a user searched for something, many more listings would appear and many more paid listing could appear as well. In the summer of 1999, they offered an online set of tools for advertisers. These tools allowed advertisers access to keyword bidding and basically was a switch from a system that required reps to sell space to a self-serve model online (sounds a lot like Google huh?). In 1999, GoTo went public and later that year changed its name to ‘Overture’ overturelogo.gif . The rest you can probably guess. In 2003, Yahoo bought Overture for $2.2 billion. Then, Overture bought AltaVista, AllThe Web and FAST adding to its number of pages crawled or searched. Yahoo/Overture and Google now had the lions share of the search business. And that’s the way its been. Unless the Microsoft deal goes through. You can see that combining MSN Search with Yahoo/Overture (Yahoo Search Marketing) would vault MS to second place in the search biz and puts the combined entity a lot closer to Google’s share of the search market quicker than nif they tried to grow thier share over time online. Here are some stats from ComScore just last November:

November U.S. Core Search Rankings

In November, Google Sites share of core searches stood at 58.6 percent, virtually the same level as in October. Yahoo! Sites ranked second with 22.4 percent, followed by Microsoft Sites (9.8 percent), Ask Network (4.6 percent) and Time Warner Network (4.5 percent), which had the largest share point gain during the month (up 0.3 points).

comScore Core Search Report*
November 2007
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore qSearch 2.0


Core Search Entity

Share of Searches (%)




Point Change Novt-07 vs. Oct-07


Total Core Search





Google Sites





Yahoo! Sites





Microsoft Sites





Ask Network





Time Warner Network





* Based on the five major search engines including partner searches and cross-channel searches. Searches for mapping, local directory, and user-generated video sites that are not on the core domain of the five search engines are not included in the core search numbers.

That’s the golden fleece that MS wants from the Yahoo deal. Sure, part of it is the traffic, but the real crown jewel is paid search. Bill Gross got the last laugh. Congrats Bill!

(logo courtesy of AdAge)  mycrosoft-logo020108.jpg