Google ads Amazon-style products to search results – in a big revenue grab

An interesting update by Google which seems directly targeted at Amazon. These new Product Ads from Google will compete with Amazon’s commission model, and may come down to who has the better search.

With billions of dollars in revenue the stakes…

 

In the early days of Google, users would type in a query, we’d return ten blue links, and they’d move on happy. Today people want more. When searching for great local restaurants, people want places to eat right there on the results page, not another click or two away. It’s the same with hotels, flight options, directions and shopping.

Today we’re announcing a new initiative to improve our shopping experience over time–so that shoppers (your customers) can easily research purchases, compare different products, their features and prices, and then connect directly with merchants to make their purchase.

First, we are starting to transition Google Product Search in the U.S. to a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads. This new product discovery experience will be called Google Shopping and the transition will be complete this fall.

Ranking in Google Shopping, when the full transition is complete this fall, will be based on a combination of relevance and bid price–just like Product Listing Ads today.

In addition, merchants who want to stand out from the crowd can choose to participate in our new Google Trusted Stores program. Google Trusted Stores is a badge for e-commerce sites which gives users background on merchants—whatever their size—including ratings for on-time shipping and customer service. Google stands behind merchants that have earned the Google Trusted Stores badge with a $1,000 lifetime purchase protection guarantee per shopper.

Second, starting today we’ve also begun to experiment with some new commercial formats on Google.com that will make it easier for users to find and compare different products. These include larger product images that give shoppers a better sense of what is available and also the ability to refine a search by brand or product type.

For example, below is  what stargazers could see on Google.com when searching for [telescopes], or for a specific product, such as [Celestron CPC 800].

 

Continue reading Google ads Amazon-style products to search results – in a big revenue grab

High school students create model boats that sail from California to Hawaii

Making a third try at sailing handmade sailboats on a course for Hawaii, students from Regional Occupational Program model-making classes at San Clemente High School launched three new vessels into the Pacific from Capistrano Beach on Tuesday afternoon.

Under the supervision of Malcolm Wilson, an instructor in the Capistrano-Laguna Beach ROP, about 75 students in three teams designed and built the one-fifth-scale model boats out of surfboard foam and fiberglass. Then they rigged them to sail on westerly and trade winds toward the Hawaiian Islands. Their progress will be monitored via onboard GPS devices.

After signing their names on the hulls and inserting their contact information into watertight containers in each of the boats, the students stood back and watched with friends and relatives as volunteer swimmers guided the boats over breaking waves on their way out to sea.

read moreThe Orange County Register

Continue reading High school students create model boats that sail from California to Hawaii

Israeli government bans ultra-thin models and photoshop in advertisements

On Monday, March 19, the Israeli parliament passed legislation ubiquitously known in the country as the Photoshop laws. The new regulations on the fashion and advertising industry ban underweight models as determined by Body Mass Index and regulate Photoshop usage in media and advertising. Abroad, the laws have opened new discussion on a government’s right to intervene in these two industries.

The legislation focuses on two elements of the fashion industry that have long drawn criticism for their effects on women and, especially, girls: ultra thin models and the use of Photoshop to make women appear impossibly thin in advertisements. The measure has been controversial within Israel for raising the question of where free speech bumps up against the fashion industry’s responsibility — and its possible harm — to its customers’ psychological wellbeing. It has also raised the question of whether other countries might consider similar measures to address what many activists consider a root cause of an epidemic of anorexia and other eating disorders.

***

An icon in the fashion world, Adi Barkan tried to deal with the issue from the inside: appealing for change within his beloved industry, to an overwhelmingly negative response of doubts, jabs, and apathy.

“I became immersed in this world very quickly. I gave up the agency and photography and…realized that only legislation can change the situation.”

 

keep readingWhat the U.S. Can—and Can’t—Learn From Israel’s Ban on Ultra-Thin Models

Continue reading Israeli government bans ultra-thin models and photoshop in advertisements

New Guinness Record for largest chocolate sculpture – 18,000 pound Mayan temple

A California dessert and pastry school, located in Irvine, has just broken the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Chocolate Sculpture:

To celebrate our 30th anniversary, Qzina Specialty Foods, has broken a Guinness World Record for building the largest chocolate sculpture. The sculpture models an ancient Mayan temple and weighs 18,239 pounds, far surpassing the previous record set in Italy in 2010 by more than 7,500 pounds.

 

 

Qzina chose the Mayan theme because of the crucial role the culture played in the origins of chocolate.  The Mayans were one of the first civilizations to cultivate Cacao trees and discover the true potential of the cocoa bean. Realizing the delicious possibilities of this powerful discovery, the Mayans worshipped the Cacao tree and praised its beans as the food of the Gods.

Qzina’s Corporate Pastry Chef, Francois Mellet, was the lead architect on this massive project and MOF Stephane Treand (Meilleur Ouvrier de France or Best Craftsman in France) lent his artistic touch to the sculpture’s intricate design elements. Mellet, together with his team, spent more than 400 hours constructing this magnificent structure of solid chocolate that was created using an assortment of Qzina’s leading chocolate brands.

 

 

Extensive planning and research set the groundwork to accurately capture the details and intricacies of an authentic Mayan temple down to the exact number of steps and panels representing numbers significant to the Mayan calendar. Built proportionally to the ancient temple’s true size, the solid chocolate pyramid is six feet tall and its base measures 10 feet by 10 feet – exactly one-thirtieth the size. The sculpture’s base alone weighs more than 3,000 pounds.

The chocolate pyramid will be displayed at the Qzina Institute of Chocolate & Pastry, located in Irvine, California, and will be available to view beginning June 4, 2012 when the institute and product showroom is officially open to the public (Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. –  5:00 p.m.). Qzina plans to destroy the chocolate sculpture on December 21, 2012 when the Mayan calendar comes to an end. The method for destruction is yet to be determined.

via Qzina News

 

More Photos:
Continue reading New Guinness Record for largest chocolate sculpture – 18,000 pound Mayan temple

I’m in Vanity Fair and my first surfing photo

I don’t often talk about myself on this blog, but I can’t pass this up. This week I modeled in a geek fashion show (wearing Marc Jacobs) and had my first surfing action-shot. I’m pretty excited about both because the above photo was on the Vanity Fair website and the below photo is from a fun new group of surfers starting a DIY revolution in the sport.

That’s me bodysurfing with a handplane – a great photo from Shawn Parkin.

Geeks on-stage modeling clothes – Geek 2 Chic comes to Los Angeles

Confession: Before Geek 2 Chic, I had never been to a runway fashion show. Shocker, right? I’m not totally fashion challenged. I can play dress-up when the occasion arises. But as someone who has ordered over a dozen of the same pair of olive green cargo pants off the internet for the past three years…I’m no fashionista. And yet, two years ago in DC, I fell in love with Geek 2 Chic, the charity-fundraiser conceived by Dr. Mark Drapeau (also known as @cheeky_geeky), Director of Innovative Engagement for Microsoft’s Office of Civic Innovation. “Geek” models, from diverse walks of life, strutting the runway in Wellies, and houndstooth, and distressed leather. Now Geek 2 Chic is making its way across the country, taking LA by storm on May 10th and raising funds for The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). via Pacific Punch

Tickets are still available for $25. The event starts at 6:30 PM on Thursday, May 10th, at Bloomingdales in Santa Monica, and runs until 9 PM for the after-party.   // Photo – Geek2Chic

Google Ventures – venture capital funding through data

A fascinating article in Fast Company profiles Google Ventures, the company’s venture capital division. Like everything the search giant does they are aiming big with delusions of changing the entire VC industry with data as the vehicle.

They start out with some interesting facts:

Despite the mythology that has built up around venture capital, it has become a slowly moldering investment vehicle. “The past 10 years haven’t been very productive,” Bill Maris points out. According to the research firm Cambridge Associates, during the decade ending last September, VCs as a class earned a 2.6% interest rate for their investors–less than you could have earned in an S&P 500 index fund. The numbers look slightly better over shorter periods; VCs have delivered a 4.9% return the past three years and 6.7% over the past five, still far from terrific.

 

 
Then they move on to insights gained through data-crunching:

Joe Kraus says that analysts have discovered research that overturns some of Silicon Valley’s most cherished bits of lore. Take that old idea that it pays to fail in the Valley: Wrong! Google Ventures’ analysts found that first-time entrepreneurs with VC backing have a 15% chance of creating a successful company, while second-timers who had an auspicious debut see a 29% chance of repeating their achievement. By contrast, second-time entrepreneurs who failed the first time? They have only a 16% chance of success, in effect returning them to square one. “Failure doesn’t teach you much,” Kraus says with a shrug.

Location, in fact, plays a larger role in determining an entrepreneur’s odds than failure, according to the Google Ventures data team. A guy who founded a successful company in Boston but is planning to start his next firm in San Francisco isn’t a sure bet. “He’ll revert back to that 15% rate,” Kraus says, “because he’s out of his personal network and that limits how quickly he can scale up.”

 

 

The article continues to describe the actions Google is taking to change the game. The most important of which seems to be bringing in ringers rather than partners, challenging the VC model at its core…

read the full articleGoogle’s Creative Destruction

The famous center of venture capital - Menlo Park, California.

 
// Thx to Guillaume SPillmann, Photo – Mark Coggins