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Yahoo Upgrades Yahoo Finance Search
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Yahoo has made some improvements to its Finance Search interface. Yahoo Finance Search is now including results from the web, and can uncover details on companies and executives, find info on private companies, and help determine what companies are associated with topics, Yahoo says.

Every page of Yahoo Finance has a link that says "Finance Search". Users can simply click this to search or browse a list of the day’s popular finance searches.

P&G To Launch Ecommerce Site

Procter & Gamble said today it would begin piloting an online store this month in an effort to improve brand loyalty and sales.

P&G has tapped ecommerce firm PFSweb to manage the online shopping site called the "eStore." P&G said PFSweb will own and operate the eStore and exclusively feature P&G products to consumers in the U.S. The eStore is set to launch this spring, following a pilot of the site with 5,000 consumers that will begin in the coming weeks.

Yahoo Adds Ernst & Young Veteran To Board

Yahoo’s board of directors has gained another member.  Sue James, who’s spent most of the past 35 years working for and with Ernst & Young, joined it earlier this week, and became Chair of the Board’s Audit Committee at the same time.

Google Tailors Mobile Search Suggestions to Location
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Google has launched search suggestions based on geographical location for iPhone and Android devices. This is currently only available in the United States.

"Typing a query into the search box on a phone can often be slow and difficult," says Google’s Mobile Engineering Team. "For this reason, relevant search suggestions that match your intended query can meaningfully reduce the time and effort it takes to submit a search."

Microsoft IE Hole Used in Google China Attacks
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Update 3: Now the State Department is quoted as saying it will issue a formal "demarche" to the Chinese government. From the Register:

White House Sides With Google In China Standoff
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Due to a new development, you may be able to either thank Google for getting China to censor less information, or blame the company for starting World War III.  The reason: the White House has sided with Google in the free speech and hacking conflict that cropped up this week.

Windows 7 Drives Holiday Software Sales

U.S. software retail sales fell slightly by just over 1 percent for the 2009 holiday season, according to The NPD Group.

Sales for the 5-week holiday period totaled $278 million dollars, up from the 13 percent decline during the 2008 holiday season.

Google’s Place Pages Just Got More Useful
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Google has introduced some new features for its recently launched Place Pages for local businesses. Most notably, businesses can now instantly (close anyway) post data to their Place Pages from Google’s Local Business Center dashboard. If you log in, you can post updates, coupons, announcements, etc. that will go live in minutes.

Hitwise Puts Google Nearer To 75 Percent Market Share
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Yesterday, Nielsen reported that Google performed well in December, and today, Hitwise seconded the assessment.  In fact, the two firms also agreed that both Yahoo and Bing lost market share, which has made Google’s lead all the more impressive.

Hitwise determined that Google controlled 71.57 percent of the search market in November.  Its report concerning December pegs the search giant’s market share at 72.25 percent, and if you didn’t notice, that’s starting to put it pretty close to the 75 percent-mark.

AOL Top Ad Network In December
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comScore has released the top 15 ad networks based on their reach among U.S. Internet users in December 2009.

The ranking found AOL Advertising remains the top ad network, reaching 187 million U.S. Internet users, or 91 percent of the total audience, followed by the Yahoo Network (180.9 million) and the Google Ad Network (178.1 million).

The fastest growing ad network by audience reach among the top 15 was Microsoft Media Network, which grew 31 percent compared to a year ago, followed by Collective Network (up 22%) and Audience Science (up 16%).

Yahoo Sponsored Search Getting New Features
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Next week Yahoo will update its Sponsored Search product with two new features, which the company says will provide advertisers with more transparency into and control over their accounts. Yahoo’s Network Distribution feature will let advertisers run ads on Yahoo search pages, partners’ sites, or both. Those who run ads on Yahoo’s entire network, can also set different bids for Yahoo or its partners.

Barclays Analyst Predicts YouTube Profitability

In a financial sense, Google’s acquisition of YouTube has never made a lot of sense; the site, which sold for $1.65 billion, hasn’t even turned a profit on a quarter-to-quarter basis yet.  But according to a prominent analyst, that’s about to change.

The World’s Smallest USB Drive and Portable Hard Drive
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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas wrapped up this past weekend, but the experience will be felt throughout the year as the companies that demonstrated upcoming products release those products to the world. One of the companies presenting at the event was Verbatim, and they have some new portable data devices on the way.

WebProNews got a look at some of the company’s upcoming offerings, which can be viewed in the following clip:

Respond to Facebook Comments From Your Email
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Today Facebook launched a feature that some would consider long overdue. They now let you reply to comments via email. In other words, when you get an email notification alerting you that someone has left a comment on one of your status updates, you can simply type your reply in the email and hit send, rather than having to leave your inbox, go to Facebook and respond there.

Online Shoppers Want More Interactivity From Retailers
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Consumers want online retailers to be more interactive and offer more personalization features according to a new a survey from IBM.

The changing economy has led to a smarter consumer who uses technology to make more informed buying decisions, exchange information with others, make purchases on-the-go and shop multiple channels.

Would Conan Work on the Web?
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Unless you live under a rock, you are probably at least somewhat familiar with the current controversy regarding NBC’s shifting of late night television talk show programming that appears to be leading to an uncertain future for current Tonight Show host Conan O’Brien. I’m not going to get into that whole story here.

American Idol Hits With “Pants On The Ground”

American Idol may be only two episodes into its ninth season, but the show already has a big online hit on its hands.  63-year-old Larry Platt performed a self-written song called "Pants on the Ground" last night, and hundreds of thousands of people are talking about his energetic routine today.

Once Upon a Time There Was a Business That Needed a Marketing Campaign
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The most powerful marketing campaigns are often the ones that we as consumers can identify with or connect to in some way. One way that businesses invoke such a feeling from potential customers is by telling a story with their marketing. This is called (appropriately) storyteller marketing.

Yahoo, Adobe Identified As Victims Of China Hack
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When Google made its big announcement about an attack originating from China, the company also mentioned that "at least twenty other large companies" had been affected.  Now, it’s become almost certain that one of them was Adobe, and there are signs that Yahoo was another target.

U.S. PC Shipments Up 24%

The global PC market saw double-digit growth in the fourth quarter, led by strong U.S. holiday sales of low-cost netbooks, according to the latest report by IDC.

Google Launches Relief Site To Help Haiti
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Survivors of the earthquake in Haiti are going to receive help from Google in a big way.  On a new Support Disaster Relief site, Google’s released satellite imagery of the destruction to spread awareness, created a list of relevant charities to encourage donations, and promised to contribute $1 million of its own money, as well.

China Responds to Google Situation

Update:  Chinese government officials have responded to Google’s proposed actions. As reported by Bloomberg:

Baidu’s Stock Soars Following Google China News
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Reactions to Google’s announcement about a possible withdrawal from China have been mixed so far; there have been objections from individuals who think its absence will deprive the Chinese people of information, while others approve of what they consider a moral stand.  But Baidu’s investors probably aren’t too conflicted, as the company’s stock imitated a bottle rocket today.

Vevo Attracts 35 Million Visitors In December
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Online music video service, Vevo, was the most visited U.S. website in the entertainment-music category in December with more than 35 million unique visitors, according to comScore.

Partners in Vevo include Universal Music Group, Sony Entertainment and investor Abu Dhabi Media Company. The site is powered by YouTube.

Vevo says its top ranking is an achievement because it did not launch until December 8 and it was not live for the full month of December, which comScore bases its results.