NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Spring 2011

Instructor Details

Sosulski, Kristen



Wednesday, 4-5pm and by appointment.

50 Cooper Square, Suite 300

 For an appointment contact Mary Ann Mazzella at 212-998-9114 or mam5@nyu.edu.


Course Meetings

MW, 2:00pm to 3:15pm

KMC 4-60


The first class will be held in KMC 4-60. Thereafter, classes will be held in the IOMS Department Conference Room, 8-191.

The course will consist of two 75 minute meetings per week.  Classes will include presentations from both Stern faculty and search engine researchers. If possible a site visit to Google will be arranged. 


Course Description and Learning Goals

The World Wide Web has become a repository for much of the digital information in the world. Search engines and related technologies have made that information accessible and usable. Search engine companies have expanded their business models “beyond search” in a variety of ways. These technologies have given rise to new business models, opportunities, technical challenges, and complex legal and societal issues.

Search engine companies, in particular Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, and now social networking likes Facebook are constantly changing the landscape in which most organizations operate, by providing them with new tools, new business opportunities, new ways to advertise, contact customers and price their goods. As search and related technologies make it much easier to find information, markets are inevitably enlarged with the ability of “niche” products to survive.

The latest influx of “user generated” content, from blogs, social networking sites, wiki’s, twitter, YouTube and other venues has further complicated the marketing of products. No matter what your job is, you need to know terms like rss, QR code, blog, wiki, digg, link counts, Facebook, LinkedIn, foursquare, myspace, technorati, tumblr, twitter, del.icio.us, friended, feed burner, page rank and many many more.

This course is a survey of the current and future search and related internet technologies, including how they work, current business models and the implications of future developments. Topics include digital marketing, search infrastructure, on-line advertising, enterprise search, on-line auctions, privacy concerns, internationalization, anti-spam efforts, local search, peer-to-peer search, crowd sourcing, the semantic web, the “dark” web, and search of blogs and online communities.

Why is this important? How is this relevant to me?

How do you find information these days? Think back to the first time you Google-d yourself.  Or when you downloaded your favorite album for free?  Do you use paper maps to navigate or search from your current location? How do you find the nearest Japanese restaurant from Stern?

















Many us just search for it.  In many cases, this type of search is all about just in time information - I'm looking for this kind of information for this specific reason (Battelle, 2005).

In this course, we'll go beyond consumer search and consider the ways businesses are leveraging the capacity of search engines. The advances in search engine technologies have transformed the ways organizations operate, by providing them with new tools, new business opportunities, new ways to advertise, contact customers and price their goods. As new social technologies are introduced, from Facebook to Twitter, search engine companies are using them in their ranking algorithms, expanding the breadth and depth of information available.

We'll learn about how search engines work, social search, social media, search engine optimization, clickstreams, and search engine advertising. This course should be particularly relevant to anyone who plans to work in media, advertising, publishing, investment banking or technology, or who plans any type of start-up.



By the end of the course students will be able to



There are several ways you can contact me if you have questions:
Office Hours

I will be available for onsite office hours every Wednesday from 4:00pm to 5:00pm and online by appointment.  Please call Mary Ann Mazzella at (212) 998-9114 in advance.

By phone or in-person appointment

I am available for phone and in-person appointments. Please call Mary Ann Mazzella at (212) 998-9114 to schedule an appointment.

I am available by email and will respond within 24 to 48 hours. For urgent matters, I would suggest following up by phone.

Question and Answer Discussion Forum

Always check the Question and Answer discussion forum to ask a question of the class and see if a response has been posted to your question.


Course Outline

The course outline is subject to change. Be sure to check Blackboard regularly. All readings (aside from the Battelle book) will be posted on the course Blackboard site under Class Meetings. There will be additional readings for each class, that are not posted to the course outline.





Readings and Homework



Mon. 01/24

Introduction to the course, classmates, and requirements


Wed. 01/26

History of search. Introduction to search engine technologies.



Mon.  01/31

Basic components of searching engines: Crawling, indexing and querying
Who are the players? Short Industry overview.


Wed. 02/02



Mon. 02/07

How do search engines rank pages? Alternative approaches, Precision vs. recall.


Guest Speaker: Professor Norm White



Wed. 02/09

How do search engines handle so much data?  How do they scale?

Guest Speaker: Professor Norm White

  • Battelle: Chapters 4 and 5


Mon. 02/14

Web Analytics




Wed. 02/16

Guest Speaker: Katie Siegel on web analytics

  • Assignment 3 due – 2/16


Mon. 02/21

No class. President’s day


Wed. 02/23

Overview of the Google file system and Google Clusters


Overview and demo of Hadoop, open source version of the google tools.


Guest Speaker: Professor Norm White



Mon. 02/28

Introduction to social media

Social networking, blogging, microblogging, location-based services, mobile search.


Wed. 03/02

Social media and search.

Listening and impression tools: Radian 6, SocialMention, Google Alerts, Twitter search



Mon. 03/07 (#4)

Guest Speaker: Dina Gold, Facebook


  • Battelle Chapters 5-6
  • Assignment 4 due – 3/7



Wed. 03/09

Presentation of project ideas



Mon. 03/14

Wed. 03/16

No classes. Spring break



Mon. 03/21

Search advertising models, banner ads, context ads, search term ads

The advertising value chain


Wed. 03/23

Midterm Review

  • Assignment 5 Due  - 3/23


Mon. 03/28

Midterm Exam


Wed. 03/30

Search engine impacts on traditional advertising. Copy reading vs. copy writing.  What terms to choose, value of a click through.  Potential problems – Click fraud, how to recognize and prevent.


Guest Speaker: Anindya Ghose

  • New Google Search Tool Scares Advertisers
  • Marketing and AdvertisingUsing Google


Mon. 04/04

Search and Society, Privacy, regulatory and ethical issues?

Who knows what about you?

The Database of Intentions? How much is it worth to know what people intend to do?

What are the legal and societal issues?

How much data on individuals should one company have? Are current privacy regulations adequate protection?



Wed. 04/06

The “Long Tail”

What are the implications of niche products being able to survive and even prosper? What is the role of search engines?


What new businesses are enabled by search engine technologies.




Mon. 04/11


Wed. 04/13

Wisdom of crowds, prediction markets.

How can we harness the collective knowledge of a large group?


Guest Speaker: Professor Norm White




Mon. 04/18

Recommender systems

Guest Speaker: Alex Tuzhilin

  • Toward the Next Generation of Recommender: Systems: A Survey of the State-of-the-Art and Possible Extensions by Gediminas Adomavicius and Alexander Tuzhilin

Wed. 04/20

Digital Rights Management

Guest Speaker: Arun Sundararajan


  • Assignment 6 due  - 4/20


Mon. 04/25

Future of search engines – Mining social network sites, Video search, searching the dark web, the perfect search

Video/audio search – techniques, applications. How does Google monetize YouTube, gmail, blogspot, google earth, google wave etc.?


The invisible web – How to look “inside” databases on the web

The perfect search? Discussion of the semantic web, natural language search.


Wed. 04/27

Guest Speaker: Panos Ipeirotis



Mon. 05/02

Course wrap-up and final project presentations

  • Final projects / papers presentation due
  • Final projects / paper submissions due 5/9



Required Course Materials

Required Book

Battelle, J. (2005). The search: How Google and its rivals rewrote the rules of business and transformed our culture. New York: Penguin Group.

ISBN 978-1-59184-141-8

Available on Amazon for $10.88 or the NYU Bookstore.

Students are encouraged to read the first 3 chapters of this book before the first lecture. 

Required Articles

There will be articles assigned weekly. Check the course outline and Blackboard > Class Meetings.

Optional Readings

Anderson, C. (2006). The Long tail: Why the future of business is selling less of more. Hyperion: New York.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-0966-4

Available on Amazon for $10.85 or the NYU Bookstore.

Chakrabarti, S (2003).  Mining the web: Discovering knowledge from hypertext data. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

ISBN: 978-1-55860-754-5

Available on Amazon for $27.14 or the NYU Bookstore.



Assessment Components

 Class Attendance and Participation: 10%

Class attendance is essential to your success in this course and is part of your grade.

An excused absence can only be granted in cases of serious illness, grave family emergencies, or religious observance and must be documented. Job interviews and incompatible travel plans are considered unexcused absences. Where possible, please notify me in advance of an excused absence. Attending class is defined as being present and on time for class, actively contributing to class discussions, and fully participating in class activities. This requires that students read the assigned readings due for each class. Students are encouraged to share their experiences relevant to the class topic.

In-class contribution is a significant part of your grade and an important part of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall performance.

You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:

Assignments: 30%

There are six assignments, each 5% of your grade. Assignments requirements are distributed one week before they are due. Students should be prepared to present their assignments to the class.

Assignment        Due Date

1                         1/31

2                         2/7

3                         2/16

4                         3/7

5                         3/23

6                         4/20

Some assignments will require you to purchase Google ad words and Facebook ads. Please be sure to allocate at between $50 and $100 for these purchases.

Midterm Exam: 25%

The midterm exam will be given in class on Monday 3/28.

You’ll be provided with an overview of the concepts that will be covered on the exam.
The exam will consist of definitions. Object questions (multiple choice, fill in the blanks, T/F etc.,) and essay type. There will be some choice in the essay questions.

Final Paper or Project: 35%. 

There will be a final paper/project (12 pages) in which students will pick a search engine topic of their choice, and either write a paper, conduct a market analysis, or develop a business plan for a new business based on search technologies.

Due 5/9

Note: Late assignments will either not be accepted or will incur a grade penalty unless due to documented serious illness or family emergency. Exceptions to this policy for reasons of religious observance or civic obligation will only be made available when the assignment cannot reasonably be completed prior to the due date and you make arrangements for late submission in advance.




At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges  as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well  you actually perform in this course.



The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you believe an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have the grade re-evaluated may be submitted. You must submit such requests in writing to me within 7 days of receiving the grade, including a brief written statement of why you believe that an error in grading has been made.


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 

Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 

Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


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