Emarketer also claims that advertising on social networks will increase by 61%, with a major bloom in contextual advertising on these sites. There is also the prediction that social networking tools such as widgets and user profiles will become a standard feature on sites across the Internet.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Marketers plan to increase e-mail use in 2008, according to a new study by online marketing services firm Datran Media.
Overall, 72% of the marketers surveyed indicated that they plan to use e-mail marketing more in 2008.
The survey, which included 1,500 marketing professionals, focused on marketers' plans to use e-mail marketing in 2008. Firms included KPMG International, InfoUSA, QInteractive and Art.com.
It found that 70.5% reported plans to increase spending on e-mail acquisition and 63% to increase spending on retention campaigns.
In addition, 83% of respondents expect e-mail ROI to increase during the New Year. E-mail optimization techniques, including landing pages, subject line testing and triggered messaging, were unanimously ranked as "very important."
The survey also found that more than half of the respondents outsourced e-mail marketing.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I’ve heard a lot of people explain social media and most are doing it ineffectively.
As 2008 approaches many individuals are trying to involve social media in their plans for the coming year, in the exception of a few companies, this requires the buy-in from a person of power (and likely someone foreign to the movement) to approve. I know that many individuals within companies are running it up the flagpole, and many interactive firms, pr firms, and social media firms are gearing up for this upcoming year.
I hear a lot of pitches, and look at a lot of websites of vendors (in fact, I maintain massive lists tracking of the industry) and know what a good pitch is and what a bad one is. I also have had to lead social media within my previous company, the conservative Hitachi Data Systems. It was a good learning experience, then at PodTech (on the vendor side) I helped sales teams understand social media, and was on client calls and visits.
Know the differences between Technology, Features, Benefits, and Value
A balance is needed when introducing these concepts to new people, especially if they are foreign to them. The worse thing you could do is ramble off a bunch of technology buzz words, or on the flip side spill out marketing bull sh*t that has no structure or resemblance of sanity.
Find the right amount of balance to communicate what you’re trying to convey, without going exclusively to those edges by focusing on Benefits and Value. What are benefits? That’s the end result (nothing to do with technology) to the business or their customers. What is value? The net result to the business, subtracting the cost, incorporating opportunity cost a new program could bring to a business.
Weak: Focus on Technology
We need Web 2.0 tools like Ajaz, Blogs _____ (insert technology) to add to our website so we can socialize and aggregate. They are very popular right now.
Average: Focus on Features
We can connect to customers using using blogs, social networks, and RSS
Strong: Needs Assessments with Benefits
You mentioned the need to increase focus in the SMB market, I’ve data to show that they are using social media to connect to each other directly, often without our involvement. I suggest we look at ways to be part of that dialog by using the same tools they are, would you like to hear how social media can be part of this solution and make you more effective?
Stronger: Needs assessments with Value Statement
You mentioned the need to increase focus in the SMB market, I’ve data to show that they are using social media to connect to each other directly, often without our involvement. I’d like to get your opinion on a proposal to decrease our hard dollar marketing costs and increase our marketing reach/lead generation and customer retention by using social media tools to reach to new customers and embrace existing customers by creating a community.
So instead of focusing on terms like “Web 2.0″ or “Ajax” focus on terms like customers, trust, community, and connections.
Look at other forces
Still have an unconvinced stakeholder? Consider showing screenshots what the customers are doing in this space, (Blogs or social networks) as well as competition. Focus on how customers have self-assembled in forums, social networks and are communicating to each other. Bring up the trust information (you’ve seen this on my decks) as a way to stimulate conversation.
The strongest force? Their kids. I’ve started a dialog with a CEO of a Fortune 5000 company by asking him how his kids communicate. He observed his kids were on IM, MySpace, watching TV, while doing homework and he wasn’t sure how they got any of them done. I asked him to look closer so we could discuss that in our next meeting. A month passed and he realized what was happening and how this next generation was going to enter the workplace, soon he adopted a few of these tools for his communication uses. This was my CEO at HDS. (careful when pulling this card, it could backfire, make sure you’ve already got a relationship of understanding with this executive before doing this)
Watch for indicators: verbal and physical
Reactions from the person you’re explaining it is key, facial expressions are usually key to this. If the conversation shifts to a tool discussion and spirals down the infinite number of risk variables you’ve headed the wrong way, quickly elevate and talk about customers. If this person asks about costs or risks, that’s a good sign but also shift back to values.
Rehearse having these conversations with others, if you’re on the career path I’m on, you’ll have to explain this movement to people that are not in it, or don’t get it (or worse, resist it) I’ve trained myself to have conversation with colleagues, executives, family, and my ‘good ol boy’ friends that don’t get this world at all. I’ve learned how to have an introductory conversation with them without discussing one tool or mentioning the term ‘web 2.0′. Instead, I prefer to focus on people, how they connect and how that changes things…mainly the shift in trust.
You’ll know you’re ready as you’ll be able to have a conversation about the impact of ’social media’, without ever mentioning that term.
If you’ve gotten this far, great news, as now you’re ready to deploy and tie it back to your business (watch for an upcoming post)
Web Strategy Summary: To know
Google announced it’s intent to build a profile system, which will allow social networks to be built anywhere, and used by anyone. Coupled with OpenSocial, this could break down any silos that many are concerned about. The ’socialization’ of the web (all the web) continues to be a theme.
Identity Systems: Google to launch profile feature
The root of any social network contains two major features 1) an individuals profile 2) The connections they have to other profiles. Google is launching part one with their individual profiles that allow users to upload their identity and preferences. Expect them to make their entire web experience (from search to docs, to picassa) more of a social experience where people share with others, comment, and collect.
Insight: People not brands lead social networks
Doc gives an very interesting perspective in response to my debate on join vs build, be sure to read his post and ask yourself how this applies to your own life.
Platform: Wordpress could be a Social Networking Platform
Chris Messina suggest that Wordpress could be a Social Networking platform, while currently a publishing CMS tool. The first thing to do is look at the technographics of a community, and identify does everyone want to be a creator? Not likely.
Platforms: Social Network Platform Wars
Great graphic from Dave McClure showing a visual representation of what the platforms are starting to look like. With many platforms emerging and APIs don’t give up on opensocial (but recognize the challenges)
Watch: Cisco’s Entertainment Operating System (EOS)
Cisco recently acquired Tribe and Five Across and are now starting to consolidate these one off acquisitions into real products. EOS is supposadly supposed to provide media to social networks, as well as a potential platform. The challenge? Does Cisco know media? even social media? The upside for Cisco? More bandwidth for their infrastructure products.
Usage: Social Network adoption continues to rise
eMarketer has some useful stats that indicate that the growth of social networks will continue in terms of adoption and monetization. Interesting to see the saturation of the teen market already.
Acquisition: Penthouse buys lifestyle social networks
Penthouse expands it’s online reach by acquiring Various, which owns adultfriendfinder, Italianfriendfinder.com, gradfinder.com and bigchurch.com. Smart move for a media company. Projected price? $340 million.
Mobile: Sprint and MySpace serve web experience
Not uncommon to see, as iPhone serves up a very nice Facebook experienece, Sprint and MySpace are working to serve up a mobile experience. I can’t wait for the day when mobile devices all render the same experience from a single browser.
Friending: “Whales” are insecure
A whale is a person with more than 1000 contacts on a social network, this article suggests that some of them insecure. While this may be true for some, for me it’s a business networking tool, i’s my rolodex, a listening tool, and a way to reach thousands. Nearly limitless business opportunities. For those who are trying use this as a social tool (college, dating, etc) I can see why this may make sense.
Regardless, self-expression and peer-to-peer communications are changing the game in how businesses and customers interact. In fact, one of my near-term initiatives at my own new start-up company is defining and executing our so-called social-media plan. I prefer to call it our community strategy. So it was good timing that Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff sent me his new report: "Objectives: The Key To Creating A Social Strategy."
Here's a summary of his "POST" strategy:
1. People - Assess your customers' social activities.
2. Objectives - Decide what you want to accomplish.
3. Strategy - Plan for how relationships with customers will change.
4. Technology - Decide which social technologies to use.
(See his in-depth summary post here.)
While the POST framework boils down to straightforward strategic planning 101 (i.e., defining stakeholders, objectives, strategy and tactics), there are some valuable takeaways on strategic and execution risks. They can't be overemphasized:
1. Customer profile mismatches - This happens when you mismatch technology platforms with actual behaviors and sophistication levels of your customers.
2. Poorly defined objectives - This happens when you execute without a clear goal.
3. Strategic timidity (or lack of internal buy-in) - This happens when your effort only goes halfway, or gives up without truly embracing and acting on opportunities to employ social technologies to change relationships.
4. Flawed technology implementation - This happens when you choose the wrong technologies, or fail to adapt.
These learning and refinements are great, but really are only the beginning of what I think most marketers are seeking in designing their community strategy. I know, because I'm one of them! So here's a few more I've picked up over past years, as well as in my latest endeavor.
1. Poorly defined scope - This happens when marketers fail to forecast what resources are truly necessary to carry out the plan. Community building is hard work, and demands significant resources and budget.
2. Mismatched expectations - Face it: "social media" is an ill-defined term that carries great promise and excitement amidst all the Web 2.0 hype. You should be realistic about timelines and milestones while tying them to specific business goals. You don't want expectations run amuck to kill your community initiative and label you a failure.
3. Technology complexity - The fact is that social-media technologies range from open-source to utmost proprietary. They are offered standalone and free to bundled inside of expensive consulting services, often inseparable. Some of the best consultants won't work with anything other than their proprietary platforms. Some of the worst, most inflexible services are receiving the most hype. It's messy, so you first must invest time digging through the clutter to understand what's out there. I've yet to find a single comprehensive, authoritative and experienced information source that clarifies the landscape, and I've looked everywhere.
4. Technology immaturity - Josh's Forrester report starts to get at this, but I'll emphasize further: social technologies are in their infancy and you can count on tremendous change, as well as consolidation. The landscape is bloated and commoditizing. Therefore, front-load flexibility into everything you do. Invest in products and services backed by companies with solid footing and strategic vision.
5. Community context - This has always been one of the most difficult questions for me: Where in the overall user experience should the community exist? If you're a retailer or Web service, is it best to position community within your service offering? What if you're an offline service provider? How should community connect to your corporate Web site? My rule of thumb is that transparency, openness and high exposure should inspire the profile and context. A spirit of "helping the community accomplish its goal" should also inform.
These are some of my best practices in community strategy. What are yours?
Friday, December 21, 2007
The medium is the revolution
Online distribution of TV programming is fundamentally altering interpretations of what constitutes a hit show, reports Advertising Age.
In an interview with Omniture CEO Josh James, the executive says shows that never garnered a substantial TV audience might have had a better chance at survival online.
Networks must determine a show's potential audience to extract what platform they're most likely to view, then design a push to drive people there, he added.
Metrics firms like Omniture are currently working with networks to measure the size of online streaming audiences.
Giving advertisers clear profiles of online audiences will (obviously) help to accurately and fully monetize those streams, James emphasizes.
The CEO's faith in the influence of online television adds weight to the ongoing writers strike. Perceiving a shift in audience habits from television to the internet, writers are attempting to negotiate compensation for shows and films streamed online.
But networks have proven reluctant to give up the honey pot. At present, media streamed online is considered "promotional," and writers are not entitled to any part of it.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
What's the best way to market to a billion users?
Social media applications will attract over one billion broadband users within five years, according to Strategy Analytics' "The People's Revolution: Implications of Web 2.0 and Social Media Applications" report.
It is usually a great thing to be able to use the word "billion" in a forecast. Yet Strategy Analytics said that real pitfalls could ruin business prospects for some social networks.
"The long term financial viability of even the largest social media sites depends heavily on the ability to develop targeted advertising techniques that are as yet largely unproven, or may ultimately be thwarted by privacy regulations," said David Mercer, principal analyst at Strategy Analytics.
Social networks are attracting marketers' attention for a reason. eMarketer estimates that by the end of 2007, 38% of all US Internet users age 3 and older, or 72 million people, will have used social networking at least once a month.
By 2011, one-half of all Internet users, nearly 105 million people, will use social networking regularly, and that's just in the US.
eMarketer senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson said that marketers could also miss the mark by using a one-size-fits-all mentality with social networks.
"Though the temptation for some marketers may be to look at the large audience of a social networking site and launch a mass branding campaign, that strategy also fails to take advantage of the engagement possibilities," Ms. Williamson said.
This is a more immediate risk than outside regulation or business model uncertainties; a ham-fisted approach risks squandering opportunities for customer engagement.
"The opportunity is to find your brand fan or your most likely brand prospects and have some relevant communication with them," said Art Sindlinger, activation director for social media and gaming at Starcom Worldwide, in an interview with eMarketer.
"It's about engaging with people in your inner circle and trying to radiate out from there, rather than throwing a net out and fishing for folks," Mr. Sindlinger said.
Brand advertisers are turning to mini-applications with dynamic content that people can embed in their own Web pages and share with others.
These widget ads aren't commonplace yet, but they are cropping up more and more, further blurring the line between advertising and content. For some it will come as an improvement over flashing emoticons, dancing silhouettes, and expandable text boxes that cover up the item you want to read on a page.
Many people are already using desktop widgets, which are small applications that update dynamically and offer a limited function for things like calendar, clock, weather, and news or RSS feeds. Yahoo offers them, as do Microsoft and Google, who call them "gadgets."
Then there are the thousands of widgets on Facebook, things like Slide for photo slide shows and iLike for music recommendations, which have boosted the popularity of the social-networking site.
The interactivity and viral nature of widgets make them attractive to marketers looking for new ways to expand their audience. Brand advertisers are jumping on the widget ad bandwagon at a rapid clip.
This week, Ford will be launching a new online ad campaign using widgets that will run on AOL sites. The widgets advertise Sync, an in-car system that lets you speak commands to use a mobile phone and digital music device. Sync is powered by Microsoft.
The Sync widget ad lets you download a free song or view a number of short humorous videos, and offers more information about the product. You can also grab the widget and embed it into other sites.
"This is an effective way for marketers to share their brand with influencers out there," said Peter Kim, president of Interpolls, which is hosting the Sync widget ads, as well as tracking their performance even as they get passed on to blogs, RSS readers, social networks, and home pages across the Web. "It has to be compelling enough for someone to want to grab it and place it onto their page," he said.
If the Sync widget ad doesn't grab you, maybe the widget ad for the Warner Brothers film August Rush will. It's got photos, a trailer of the movie, and lets you find show times for theaters near you based on your zip code.
Then there's the Interpolls widget ad for dating site eHarmony that has rotating questions about dating. If your curiosity is piqued, you'll answer the question and a pop-up window will tell you the correct answer (45 marriages each day are "fostered" through eHarmony, according to the widget ad), while offering you a sign-up form for a free personality profile.
Other widget ads let you buy tickets and make other transactions and e-mail the ads around. "These widget ads can help qualify users for clients," Kim said.
Last week, PointRoll launched what it calls SnaggableAds, which are distributed over Clearspring Technologies' Widget Ad Network. These ads can be animated cartoons, videos, and games, such as one similar to Space Invaders.
Beyond the viral distribution aspect, marketers are attracted to the tracking and reporting that Interpolls and PointRoll can offer. Interpolls, for example, offers real-time data on how many times and in what way people have interacted with a particular widget ad. It also tracks how many times the ad has been grabbed and where it's been embedded--whether it was in a specific blog, Facebook or iGoogle. The ad companies also track all interactions within the widget ads that have been grabbed.
"We're tracking all the impressions of the ads that were served," said Kim. "Then we track every single response to the question or click to any of the features, as well as any interactions on subsequent panels."
Even Google has gotten in on the act, launching a beta of Google Gadget Ads three months ago. The ads are served on Google's content network, which reaches 800 million people, said Christian Oestlien, product manager of Google Gadget Ads.
Nissan has embedded Google Maps with live traffic feeds into its gadget ads, auction houses are pulling in live auction information for items relevant to particular Web sites, and a consumer packaged goods company has put a recipe search engine into one of its gadget ads.
And Honda Civic partnered with pop punk band Fall Out Boy and created gadget ads in which people could submit questions to the band and receive answers, Kim said.
The gadget ads allow marketers a "more emotional response than they are used to in their traditional campaigns," he said.
"In the future, this is probably going to be the model for all advertising across media, but we're still in the early stage of the evolution of these things," said Andrew Frank, a research director at Gartner. Down the road, we'll see mobile widgets, TV widgets, widget-enabled devices like Chumby, and widget ads in games and other interactive content, he predicted.
However, it's premature to say if the ads are all that much more effective than traditional banner ads, said Tim Hanlon, executive vice president at Denuo, the media futures arm of ad firm Publicis Group. "It is very early for this hyper-distribution scenario for content, let alone the advertising component of it," he said.
One thing is certain, there will be only more "widgetization" of content and ads, particularly when the distribution is so easy. "This lets advertisers bypass media properties and communicate directly with consumers," Hanlon said.
NEW YORK - Online advertising jumped 25 percent this year, raking in a cool $20 billion, but Internet executives say that figure could have been even higher if advertisers had reliable and consistent ways to measure online audiences.
Unlike traditional media, where each format has one main ratings provider — The Nielsen Co. for television, Arbitron Inc. for radio and so on — there are many sources of data on online audiences. And they frequently conflict.
Disagreement also continues over which criteria best gauge users' potential interest in a product or service. And the resulting data aren't easily comparable to ratings in other media anyway.
It's a "problem of plenty," as Manish Bhatia, president of global services for Nielsen Online, a unit of The Nielsen Co., told a recent conference on online audience measurement.
Web publishers are frustrated that the lack of cohesion is holding them back from capturing more of the $250-billion-a-year U.S. advertising pie, especially given the huge amount of time people spend online.
"This industry looks like it can't get out of its own way," said Steve Wadsworth, president of The Walt Disney Co.'s Internet group. "We need measurement of the audience and their use of the system that's clear, simple and actionable for a marketer. You need comparability with other media."
As Internet executives hash over clickstreams, page views and user panels, 2008 is sure to see even more evolution of the way online audiences are measured. Other media — including TV, radio and billboards — also are revamping the way they calculate ratings in response to pressure from advertisers trying to measure how effective their ad dollars are.
David Hallerman, senior analyst at research company eMarketer Inc., said many large advertisers remain shy of the Internet because of confusion over audience measures. Some also want to stick with video ads, which are still in their early stages on the Internet.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau, which represents more than 300 Web publishers, has called for Nielsen Online and comScore Media Metrix to undergo audits by the Media Rating Council, a process that is still under way. ComScore and Nielsen both still use panels, while Quantcast Corp., a relatively new agency, combines panel and Web-based data to produce ratings.
Resolving what to measure is as complex as deciding how to measure it. Some sites produce their own ratings based on internal server logs, on the theory that panel-based data understate traffic. But comScore says internal logs can overstate traffic when users delete identifying files called cookies from their browsers because servers think they're seeing a "unique visitor" each time that user arrives.
Counting unique visitors can also be challenging — and lose meaning — when an individual logs in to several different computers, or a family of six all use the same computer. "Page views," once a key indicator, haven't been since Ajax software let people view different elements on one page instead of going to a new page for each one.
From any vantage point, there's still no clear equivalent for reaching a potential audience of 18 million people around the country at the same time with a single ad on the TV show "Desperate Housewives."
"There aren't well-established, tried-and-true standards in the industry, which need to be worked through," said Jeff Marshall, senior vice president of digital marketing at Starcom USA, a major ad-buying agency. "The concerns are escalating as more and more of our clients are shifting significant amounts of money into the space."
Traditional measures may not even apply to the Web, some executives say, because the benefits the Web offers — most notably, the opportunity for users to click right through and buy the advertiser's product — aren't comparable to other media.
But Web publishers want to give advertisers some basis for comparison.
"Advertisers want to be able to understand that their online spend got this reach, and their offline spend got that reach," says Jim Spanfeller, president and CEO of Forbes.com.
Or, as Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, put it: "Marketers want to know, If I take $10 out of TV and put it into online, am I getting $10-plus back?"
Peter Daboll, a research guru at Yahoo Inc. who holds the title Chief of Insights, acknowledges that it's still a "challenge" to work through the various kinds of online data.
"We're not dealing with a perfect science here," said Daboll, formerly chief executive of comScore. "What we're trying to do with our advertisers is take some of the mystery out of this."
Indeed, advertisers are demanding just that.
Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, said corporate leaders have been ratcheting up the pressure on marketing departments to justify their ad budgets with hard proof they are generating business.
In response, TV broadcasters this fall started counting how many people watch commercials during a show. Radio ratings company Arbitron Inc. is rolling out a new electronic measurement system that uses a portable device to capture what stations people actually hear, instead of what they recall hearing. The system is running in Philadelphia and Houston, with nine more markets to be added in September.
And the outdoor advertising business will replace estimates of vehicle and pedestrian traffic in front of billboards with a measure that takes into account how visible a certain billboard is. The new measure will also include estimates of demographic data, something other media already provide.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Online communities are everywhere and more are popping up every day. Why? Simple fact: Communities help brands. Research shows that online community users spend 54 percent more than non-community users (eBay, 2006). Virtual forums also promote a much higher rate of customer satisfaction when compared to other forms of interaction. According to a recent Jupiter study, customers report good experiences in forums more than twice as often as they do via calls or mail.
Online communities are an incredibly valuable asset. It is your chance to speak directly with your customers or, if you prefer, just observe customers speaking with each other. There is a wealth of insight and opportunity to be gained, but you must first make sure you manage your online meeting place effectively and take the time to cultivate it properly. Most forums need to be tended like gardens, with moderation (weeding) and guidelines (feeding), to be productive.
In some cases you want to maintain a narrow, targeted interaction -- to keep the discussion focused and current. An example would be Fox's "American Idol" site, where discussions revolve around the most recent shows and who was kicked off that week.
You can see an example of an alternative approach on iVillage. People participating in iVillage's parenting forums, for example, frequently jump from parenting-specific topics to current events to life events such as work challenges or family illness. These forums are less focused, but quite often are characterized by stronger emotional ties.
It's up to you to set the guidelines. But, no matter what rules you put in place, online communities require constant monitoring and some level of moderation in order to succeed. Here are some important points to keep in mind for your online community:
The success of your community will rely on your ability to maintain the focus of the forums. Some suggestions include:
- Policies and guidelines should be as straightforward as possible to avoid questions and confusion. You should always have the ability to remove any content from your community area for any reason.
- Stay in touch with topical current events; mine content from daily news events, using news and topical websites to assist and guide interaction.
- Revive conversations that run out of momentum, or end them graciously.
- Keep users informed of company news.
- High levels of participation are not necessary; you just have to make sure that your community members feel comfortable within the community so they will participate when the time calls for it. Participation for the sake of participation can water down the community.
- Make sure your early adopters are appropriate community role models.
- As the community expands, begin to build niche communities of interest within the community.
Don't go it alone
To do the above for a successful, robust community can be a daunting task. In some cases, it makes sense to work with a third-party partner to help the moderation process in high traffic communities. A professional moderation team can help provide front-line support to users, as well as in-depth analysis to help you better understand the interests and needs of your customers. For instance, your moderation partner can assist in:
- Maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all community members.
- Seeding new discussions and pruning existing ones to ensure robust interactions.
- Helping new users get comfortable and answering questions from the entire community.
- Performing regular sweeps of community content to remove offensive messages as well as members who are intentionally/habitually disruptive or abusive.
- Compiling a weekly report that summarizes ongoing conversations and interactions of the communities and analyzes trends.
In addition, once your company's online community is up and running, it requires a number of important roles to make it a success. Some of these roles you should consider are:
- Maintains the community vision.
- Develops, implements and maintains the forums' taxonomy.
- Works with content producers and business development personnel to maximize user interaction between the forums and the main site (includes promotion and marketing).
- Develops and implements user guidelines.
- Acts on forum issues escalated by hosts.
- Writes reports on community performance.
- Helps hosts with initiation and facilitation where needed.
- Is on the lookout for new topics of relevance.
- Depending on the budget, may also perform host and monitor duties.
- Has a firm grasp of the average community user's experience as the community evolves.
- Welcomes new users, establishes authority, ground rules and tone.
- Begins topical discussions with the first few posts (called seeding).
- Answers questions and provides follow up (called facilitating).
- Escalates issues that can't be immediately resolved to the community manager.
- Writes reports on activity.
- Keeps discussions and chats focused, engaging, robust and informative.
- Issues warnings and disciplines users.
- Identifies and rewards leaders in the user population.
- Identifies community benchmarks, such as users scheduling face-to-face meetings or beginning to defend each other.
- Hosts may also perform monitoring duties.
- Reads every new post on an assigned schedule, i.e. every six hours.
- Makes sure each post is on topic and conforms to the user guidelines.
- Writes reports on community activity.
- Escalates issues to the host and/or community manager.
- Identifies under-utilized forums for increased promotion and host action.
Online communities, when properly tended, grow into lush, green gardens, free of weeds and producing the flowers of great customer relations and brand loyalty.
AD SPENDING ON ONLINE SOCIAL networks worldwide will nearly double, to $2.2 billion in 2008 from $1.2 billion this year, according to an eMarketer study being released today. Most spending will come from the U.S., where social network advertising is projected to grow to $1.6 billion next year, from $920 million in 2007. MySpace and Facebook dominate U.S. social network advertising, claiming 70% of ad dollars.
That's still a fraction of overall U.S. online advertising, which eMarketer estimates will hit $21.4 billion this year.
The ad growth is fueled by an expanding social networking population. Emarketer estimates that 37% of U.S. adult Internet users visited a social networking site at least once a month in 2007. By 2011, almost half of adult users and 84% of teens will be on social sites.
"The continued growth of social networking seems assured unless teens stop social networking as they become adults," said eMarketer senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson, in a prepared statement released Friday providing key findings. (The full eMarketer report, "The Promise of Social Network Advertising," will be released today.)
Converting large and growing audiences into significant ad revenue is the challenge for top social networking sites. To that end, Facebook and MySpace are diversifying ad opportunities beyond marketer profile pages to formats including search, display ads and widgets.
Michael Barrett, chief revenue officer at Fox Interactive Media, said at the recent UBS Media conference that MySpace now gets about 40% of its ad revenue from brand advertising, 30% from search, 20% from performance-based ads sold directly, and only 10% from inventory sold via third-party ad networks.
Both MySpace and Facebook have also recently unveiled behavioral ad platforms aimed at mining the voluminous personal data users provide through profile pages and other site activities for the benefit of advertisers. "If social network marketing delivers on its promise of peer recommendations, the flow of advertising dollars will turn into a flood," Williamson said.
But privacy issues raised by social advertising and "hyper-targeting," highlighted by Facebook's stumble with its Beacon program, suggest that capitalizing on social networking activity won't be so easy for marketers. And given the incremental growth of Internet advertising over the last decade, social advertising isn't likely to turn into a gusher anytime soon. In fact, it's not yet clear whether it will ever turn into a gusher.
Furthermore, the eMarketer study forecasts that global growth of social network ad spending will gradually slow to 16% by 2011, for a total of $4.1 billion.
Discord in any relationship often has unpleasant financial implications, but it is far costlier in human terms. When you are involved in a fractious relationship, physical and mental energy that could be directed toward positive achievements is dissipated needlessly, squandered upon stressful, unproductive activities. Unfortunately, whatever the cause of friction between individuals, it adversely affects each person involved. When you find yourself in a contentious relationship, there are few acceptable alternatives. You can work out your problems or leave the team. Only you know which is the best solution for you, but if you objectively evaluate your reasons for becoming involved and find that they are still valid, your best course of action may be to swallow your pride and find a solution that is acceptable to everyone involved. If you cannot do this, perhaps it’s time to get out of the partnership and find another course toward your objective
Monday, December 17, 2007
The LA Times reports on ongoing negotiations between writers and venture capitalists to create Hollywood startups. Apparently "dozens" of Hollywood writers are looking to launch companies that would allow them to produce video content that would be distributed directly to fans on the web. We've noted that there are already a number of companies pursuing this strategy, and with thousands of talented writers sitting idle, this is an ideal time to start more of them. In the long run, these kinds of startups will ensure writers get compensated fairly because it will give writers who feel they're under-compensated an exit option. On the other hand, the LA Times makes clear that writers jumping into alternative business models may find that the reality of Hollywood startups to be a culture shock. A lot of successful online content outfits tend to be shoestring operations, and it's likely to take a few more years before the bulk of viewers make the switch to Internet-based sources of information. Writers used to the relatively large budgets and large audiences of Hollywood studios may find it difficult to adjust to being at a web startup that no one has (yet) heard of. This may explain why in a town with ten thousand writers, only "dozens" are looking at the startup option. On the other hand, those writers with an appetite for risk or a thirst for creative control may thrive in an environment where they call the shots and reap a much larger share of the rewards if they succeed.
O'Reilly, famous for their "Hacks" series (books that reveal secrets about things like Google, Ebay and Windows XP) and their "Missing Manual" series (which goves step by steps for manual challenged products like iPhone, iMovie, etc.) has just released a first with their appropriately named: "Windows Vista Annoyances". I hope this will become a new series, like "Hacks" or "Missing". My suggestion for number two in the series? "Windows XP 64 bit Annoyances" subtitled: "How to take your potentially gifted child and put him on the short bus".
Home movies take a back seat to Hollywood.
Nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed who watch video on their computers, mobile devices or digital media players are watching professionally-produced TV programming, according to ChoiceStream's "2007 Survey of Viewer Trends in TV & Online Video," conducted by MarketTools.
Choicestream said that the percentage of pro content would increase over the next six months.
Although this could be interpreted as a sign that user-generated content is on the wane, the research company said that traditional TV watchers were simply learning to shift their viewing towards other devices.
Annual US revenues from Internet video services, including user-generated content, will exceed $7 billion by 2010, according to Parks Associates' "Internet Video: Direct-to-Consumer Services" report.
In 2007, approximately 85% of the revenues will derive from advertisements attached to user-generated content and TV and news streams. But by 2010, Parks estimates that fees for renting and downloading TV shows and movies will account for nearly 40% of total revenues.
In general, viewers of user-generated content have a low threshold for ad support, reasoning that if the videos are not professionally created they should not need to be supported by commercials.
This finding is reflected in a January 2007 Harris Poll survey of adult YouTube watchers, 73% of whom said they would visit the site less if a short commercial accompanied every video clip. Only 21% of respondents said their frequency of YouTube visits would be unaffected by the presence of advertising alongside the videos.
Considering these statistics, it is hardly surprising that YouTube has been cautious about introducing ads on all its content.
In the first in our series looking back at the best global branding and marketing of the year, Johnny Vulkan of Anomaly gives the view from the U.S.
"Advertising is a tax you pay for unremarkable thinking."
In the vast chamber, high ranking marketing executives, attending a conference organized by industry paper Advertising Age, shuffled nervously in their foldout chairs before a couple of stifled chuckles drifted over the room, mingling momentarily with the familiar buzz of twitching BlackBerrys. Breathe everyone, breathe.
The damning words came from Robert Stephens, the charismatic founder of Geek Squad and builder of one of the growing number of brands that have been built without the help of Madison Avenue. I think it would be safe to say he's done a pretty good job.
Remarkable Year for Marketing
A few weeks earlier I'd heard Scott Cook, founder of Intuit (INTU), speak. Intuit produces Quicken and QuickBooks financial software. "A brand is what a friend tells a friend it is. Not what a company tells them," he said firmly.
Shuffling executives, nervous chuckles, more twitching BlackBerrys. You get the picture. This year hasn't been a wonderful one for advertising professionals—unless your business is advertising conferences entitled "The Future of Marketing"—but 2007 will prove to have been a remarkable year for the marketing profession in general.
The best stories of well-marketed businesses and brands have come from companies that haven't spent their money on conventional media but have adopted new approaches. Take for example the plucky crew at Blendtec and their wonderful Will It Blend? viral video series that has been viewed more than 70 million times. They're actually making money from their marketing by selling advertising and taking commissions to blend things, all while enjoying exponential growth in sales of their iPhone-obliterating blenders.
Thinking Differently About Brands
Or look at the grassroots efforts of a sports journalist in Britain who created My Football Club, a Web-based initiative that galvanized more than 50,000 soccer fans to become owners and managers of fledgling football club Ebbsfleet United. These new owners get to vote for who is on the team and who gets bought and sold. All of this was done with a marketing budget of essentially zero—yet they've already attracted big-name sponsors such as EA Sports (ERTS) and Eurostar.
This may well be cause for concern if you're an advertising or media agency whose business model is predicated on clients spending lots of money on creative work, and then buying media. But it may end up being good news for the people who actually buy products and services—or those who care to think differently about what's really needed from brands these days.
The money hasn't disappeared; it's just that some of it is being invested in places other than "traditional" advertising—primarily in products and services themselves. The creativity that was once the preserve of advertising has surfaced in rapidly expanding research and development departments at a new generation of creative innovation businesses. And a fair chunk has found its way to ambitious Gen Y'ers who have their hearts set on following the example of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.
A Business Imperative
We've moved past the point where bragging rights belong to the creators of articulate analogies or metaphors for why one generic car drives better than another. Instead we're beginning to see a greater focus on something that is not even a new idea—that the products and services businesses create should be fundamentally good.
This is not some romantic notion of a utopia where only good or useful products exist—it is a business imperative. Where we used to advertise 'at' people, technology now creates more opportunities for people to answer back—not just to the advertisers themselves, but to everyone.
If your product is not as good as the competition, or if it fails to live up to your claims, the world will soon know about it and no amount of cleverness will save you—nor should it. Businesses ought to welcome the feedback and dialog. Harnessed correctly, it will make things better for everyone.
Learning From Facebook
Pick any industry and there are people experimenting with innovative new models—in many cases bypassing traditional channels on the way to marketing their thinking. Radiohead's "pay what you want" album release or the recent launch of rcrdlbl.com, a brand-supported model for free independent music, are just the latest rounds in the music industry's creative destruction. Both represent creative thinking that bears little resemblance to the models of old.
And then there's Facebook, unquestionably the media and marketing story of 2007—and the plot continues to thicken. A bold move earlier in the year moved the audience beyond the college heartland, and the opening up of application development has helped to expand a passionate, vibrant community populated as much by affluent young professionals as by students. But the community can also bite back.
A Remarkable Opportunity for the Industry
Days after announcing the innovative new Beacon advertising model, a hastily formed group on Facebook accused the network of abusing user privacy. Fifty thousand members later, the model has been changed and the faltering start may be enough to demand a more radical rethink. In this instance, Facebook put an advertising model—and pressure to show quicker returns—ahead of its community. To its credit, executives do appear to be listening. And listening may just be the most important skill for marketers and the media in 2008.
The year that saw São Paulo ban outdoor advertising for being a "blight" on the city has been a difficult and confusing time for the industry. But it really represents a remarkable opportunity. Technology has, intentionally or not, given us open channels to millions of people, and with them instant feedback on the products we make and the messages we deliver. Choose to ignore that and we will certainly fail. Choose to listen and we can deliver better products and services in a genuine way. That seems like a good idea.
For a look at Vulkan's pick of the year's top innovations and trends in advertising, see BusinessWeek's slide show.
This is the first in our series looking back at the best global branding and marketing of the year. Check back over the next week for reviews from Asia, Australia and Europe.
Friday, December 14, 2007
|by Gavin O'Malley, Wednesday, Dec 12, 2007 7:00 AM ET|
| ON-DEMAND SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM KICKAPPS has extended its partnership with AOL's Advertising.com to include its Lightningcast video ad-serving system. The new integrated platform combines KickApps' community-building services with Advertising.com's Lightningcast video ad-serving system in an effort to help publishers serve ads via editorial and user-generated video content on their KickApps-powered social media sites. |
"Publishers want to co-mingle their professionally produced content with the user-generated video, because it gives them more inventory to run advertising," said KickApps CEO Alex Baum, a former president of JumpTV, who previously spent eight years in a senior programming role at AOL. "What's changing and driving this trend is--user-generated stuff is driving a CPM that is comparable to premium content as long as it's properly targeted."
KickApps provides sites of all sizes with a range of building blocks that include user-generated content, social networking, video players, Webcam applications, widget-building, media/member management and reporting.
Corporate users and Web masters can mix and match building blocks from the widget library to crate a more customized or branded solution.
Advertising.com's Lightningcast platform was designed to help Web publishers insert, manage and track ads that are incorporated within their videos. The new integrated solution will now enable KickApps affiliates large and small to generate their fair share of advertising revenue from their sites.
The New York-based KickApps' tools have powered a successful Procter & Gamble Tag Body Spray community effort. Within six weeks of launch, it drove 772,400 page views and 260,000 unique visitors, according to KickApps.
My43.net used the tools to raise monthly site traffic by 30% with no on-air promotion. Other companies using it include AFL Network, Cycling.tv, and National Lampoon, Universal Music/Interscope and others.
KickApps is also serving targeted ads to relevant audience clusters, allowing for the monetization of sites.
KickApps is backed by Spark Capital and Prism VentureWorks. Its board members include former Liberty Digital and E! Entertainment CEO Jarl Mohn and former MTV and NFL President Sara Levinson.
MediaTrust,this is a great article written by our Scott Parent on Adotas. this is a very important read. it will explain the real value of SMO social media optimization
- Written on
- December 13th 200 by Scott Parent
My company, MediaTrust, just got finished delivering a pretty groundbreaking campaign to the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego. It was a well-balanced mix of host endorsements on popular radio and TV programs resulting in an audience reach of 2.1 million people.
Was it on NBC? CBS? FOX? Or, maybe it was on Howard Stern’s radio show. Nope. It was all online through the growing reach of podcasting. That’s right - over a 10-day period and a handful of shows on the PodShow network we delivered 2.1 million impressions. Even better, we got to target our media buy to exactly the audience we wanted. No broadcast TV shots in the dark here. We knew this campaign would appeal to those familiar with the Hard Rock’s iconic brand of rock n’ roll, Hollywood, and travel. As a result PodShow helped us handpick a group of shows that hit the demographics that were most appropriate - for a fraction of what that reach would cost in traditional media.
The other thing that set this campaign apart from traditional radio and television campaigns was that we weren’t serving prepackaged 30-second spots. Let’s face it, in the era of DVRs and shortened attention spans we all usually tune that stuff out anyway. Instead, we developed a process where the hosts put their own spin on the campaign and talked freely as a host endorsement. We gave each show a set of talking points and goals and asked them to put their own unique flavor on it in a way that their audience would engage and react to. The result is the advertisement became part of their content. Hosts talked about their own memories from a trip to the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas, or about how they loved San Diego and were now planning to stay at the Hard Rock there. It made it personal and real. Additionally, the audience was incentivized by the potential of winning a trip to the Hard Rock’s grand opening. Further, bands were encouraged to submit their music with the hopes of playing with the Black Eyed Peas on opening weekend.
In the days that followed the campaign, I’ve been asked about the return on investment. How did we track the success? Since we are in the business of online marketing we live in a world of CPC, CPA, and CPM - and those sorts of metrics certainly play a large role in our industry. But, I challenge you to think outside the box a bit. Given the chance, how many of your clients would like to advertise on the NBC show “Heroes?” If cost wasn’t an issue, I bet all of them would. However, think about this - the numbers that networks use to gauge audience size are estimates taken from a small sample and are widely acknowledged as flawed. Online we’re able to deliver the power of a traditional media campaign and know exactly how many people downloaded that program.
There’s no doubt that advertising on network TV is sexy, but does it have any teeth? A significant percentage of viewers now use DVRs to skip through commercial blocks. On top of that, I would bet half the audience of a show like Heroes just doesn’t care about the Hard Rock Hotel. The problem is that you’re still paying NBC for that whole audience, whether they actually skip through your commercial, or maybe they just have no intention of flying to the newest Hard Rock property. Whatever the case, with our podcast ad buy, we integrated the pitch into the content so it was nearly impossible to skip over it. We also targeted shows that we knew the audience would have some interest in a campaign like this.
As an extra bonus, these host endorsements will live in perpetuity in these episodes as “back catalog”. Many of these shows report as much as 15% of their monthly audience come in the way of users downloading old shows after discovering the program.
In short, I believe we’re sitting on a great hybrid of old and new media. We have the rich content of television and radio married with the interaction, engagement, and tracking that the web provides us. We’re able to spend ad dollars where we know it will have an impact on brand awareness and consumer interaction.
The next time your client asks you about a unique way to approach a campaign, I challenge you to think out of the box of email marketing or Google AdWords and look to the immersive world of new media.
How much can social networks net?
Social networking is an Internet success story.
This year, 37% of the US adult Internet population used online social networking at least once a month. That figure will rise to 49% in 2011.
”The continued growth of social networking seems assured,” says Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer Senior Analyst and author of the new report, Social Network Marketing: Ad Spending and Usage, “unless teens stop social networking as they become adults.”
Don’t bet on that.
Currently, 70% of all US teens visit social network sites on a monthly basis.
“By 2011, one-half of all online adults and 84% of online teens in the US will use social networking each month,” says Ms. Williamson. “There is little to suggest that this activity will go away.”
When it comes to translating eyeballs into advertising revenues, eMarketer projects that worldwide online social network ad spending will grow from $1.2 billion in 2007 to $2.2 billion in 2008, 82%.
Worldwide spending will top $4 billion in 2011.
In the US, spending is projected to rise to $1.6 million in 2008, from $920 million in 2007.
”MySpace and Facebook together receive more than 70% of all US social network ad spending,” says Ms. Williamson. “And they are hard at work to convince marketers to allot more of their budgets to social network advertising.”
The advertising offerings of the two social network giants are becoming more diversified, and now include not only profile pages but search, display ads, widgets and more.
“But if social network marketing delivers on its promise of peer recommendations the flow of advertising dollars will turn into a flood,” says Ms. Williamson.
By EMILY STEEL
December 14, 2007; Page B4
Amid the gloomy forecasts for next year's ad market, there is at least one bright spot: political advertising.
Candidates, political parties and issue groups are expected to spend a record $3 billion on ads this election season, thanks in part to the unusual number of tight local races, says Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks politics and public affairs advertising.
But as spending grows, one thing that hasn't changed much is how money is spent. Despite the hoopla about online advertising, the Web is expected to get only a very small slice of campaign spending in 2008, says Evan Tracey, founder and chief operating officer of Campaign Media Analysis, part of TNS Media Intelligence, a firm that tracks advertising. In fact, the best way to reach voters in the run-up to elections is still the old way -- via local broadcast television, he says. That's creating a scramble for TV ad time in unexpected places, like Paducah, Ky., and Charleston, W.Va.
Mr. Tracey, who tracked politically-related advertising for more than a decade, is particularly curious to see how Feb. 5 plays out. Voters in 20 states will vote in presidential primaries that day, presenting some interesting ad-spending decisions for campaigns. He talked with The Wall Street Journal about ad-buying trends this year, mistakes that candidates make with their ads, and even how a third-party run by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg could change the spending equation. Below are excerpts from the interview.
Wall Street Journal: Some 70% of the $3 spent on political ads is expected to be spent on local advertising, mostly local TV. Why?
Mr. Tracey: Even presidential elections turn into 18 or 20 state battlegrounds that are often waged right down to the county-by-county level. If any business -- let's say dog food -- had to run on a cycle where you could only get your customers once every other year, and you had one day when they had to pick between your brand and somebody else's brand and whichever brand had 51% of the market won, you would want to have a medium that is best situated to essentially drive up the volume and get voters to notice you and customers to notice you. That has always been television.
WSJ: How does the supply crunch with local advertising impact supply and demand for advertising on other media?
Mr. Tracey: In many cases you have multiple competitive elections in the same media market. That will certainly be the case this year in places like Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, California. Once you've bought all the television you can buy, then you start to look for other places to use your money and funds. Things like radio, and even in some places things like newspaper. Also, in some respects, with other nonpolitical advertisers trying to buy in these markets as well, they get priced out and start to look for other media.
WSJ: What role is new media playing ad-wise this election cycle?
Mr. Tracey: You will see record spending on Internet advertising in this cycle, but it will still amount to little more than a rounding error when put next to the money spent on television. Right now, the campaigns are using the free part of the Internet -- things like email, blogs, and YouTube and MySpace -- to fund-raise and take advantage of grass-roots organizing, but not doing much from a paid standpoint.
WSJ: Why aren't politicians devoting more funds to the Web?
Mr. Tracey: There was the case with Mitt Romney going through one of these ad wholesalers like Advertising.com, and spots ended up on Gay.com and sites like that. There have been other cases where the campaigns have had similar problems. So there is a trust factor, No. 1. But No. 2, an Internet ad is not a TV ad. It is not going to be something that you can put an unfiltered 30-second message, or an attack ad when you need to do those because with an Internet ad at this point, somebody has to want to see it.
WSJ: What are some of the most interesting forms of advertising you've seen so far this election?
Mr. Tracey: There is not a lot of innovation that goes on in the realm of political advertising. That is because we've been perfecting it for the last thirty or 40 years. One of the things that is going to be very interesting to watch is how campaigns deal with this Feb. 5 primary, where you have 20-plus states all on one day. There isn't a political playbook or a media-consultant guide to navigating a third of the country's primaries.
WSJ: What effect would a strong third-party candidate in the presidential race have on political spending?
Mr. Tracey: If that candidate has a last name of Bloomberg, it could easily add a third more [spending] to the mix.
WSJ: Some new ad firms like Spot Runner create templates for political ads. Do you think those ads are effective?
Mr. Tracey: Over the last 10 years, things like editing costs have gone down. Literally, campaigns are creating commercials on laptops. The barrier to entry to TV, which always was sort of that upfront production cost, is gone. The net effect on that has been more campaigns are finding their way to using TV. I don't think that there is anything wrong with that. (But) TV spots are only as good as the audience who sees them and the message that is in them and timing of the spot. In this marketplace, there is probably in many ways an overreliance on TV.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Working with integrated sales groups sounds easy in principle, but all sorts of issues rear their ugly heads when buyers work with sellers in a cross-media capacity.
It's staggering how much time, thought and money went into integrating sales groups since the first dot-com crash.
Integration brought a number of benefits to the table for both buyer and seller. The problem was that many advertisers, agencies and publishers had differing definitions of "integration."
On one end of the spectrum, advertisers looked at integrated buying as a way to exploit economies of scale, as well as the ambiguities of a new way of doing business and a way to negotiate favorable pricing. On the other end of the scale, there were advertisers who were fans of integrated thinking who wanted to see ideas come to life across multiple channels, and for whom cost was a secondary concern.
To me, it's that integrated thinking camp that's most interesting. Negotiating for more favorable rates simply by making commitments in a cross-channel fashion is a great way to save money, but in the end, if that's all that integration means to you, you're going to end up commoditizing creative thinking. But I digress…
Integrated buying and selling groups are far from reaching their true potential, and there are still plenty of advertisers who believe in a "best of class" approach with multiple agencies working on different media channels on behalf of a client. So, the days of planning and buying integrated media in a consolidated fashion are way off in the distance for some advertisers.
Still, that shouldn't stop us from capitalizing on integrated opportunities. Here are some tips for navigating that space that could save you time, money and effort down the line.
1. Attribute Dollar Values to Everything – Every element comprising an integrated campaign should be line-itemed and have a dollar value attached to it. Too often, I've seen advertisers and agencies sign off on an integrated package with only a bottom-line price tag. Here's where this leads to trouble. Let's say you sign off on an integrated package for $300,000. It consists of three four-color spreads in a magazine and a three-month online sponsorship. After the flight runs and the bill comes, you find out that two of the three magazine issues didn't make rate base. The client isn't open to post-flight makegood weight. How much money are they due back? You're probably in for a lengthy negotiation to see how much money your media partner will knock off the bill. However, if each print ad has a dollar value attached to it, you'd know exactly how much money your client was due.
2. Make Commitments Simultaneously – When two different agencies collaborate on an integrated campaign, I often see them inadvertently weaken their negotiating position. Here's how it happens. One agency signs off on elements of the program (the ones that fall under their area of expertise) before the other one is finished negotiating. The seller then figures that if one piece of the program is committed, it's highly unlikely the second agency will walk away from the deal when negotiating the second piece. Ideally, the two agencies want to commit at the same time.
3. Stick to Your Standards – Integrated contracts tend to be a little funny in that they're often drawn up by lawyers who tend to work either with offline or online, but rarely both. Thus, it's common for contracts to leave out elements that are considered standard on the online side of the business that the offline side might not be aware of. IAB/AAAA Terms and Conditions might not be present. There might be different language in contracts that deals with how to handle things like makegoods, or that might call for payment before the online agency is realistically capable of reconciling delivery. Whatever the case, always ensure that the standards that typically govern online portions of integrated packages are governing yours, or you could be in a world of hurt when it's time for a post-buy analysis.
One day, the industry will figure out a better way to execute on integrated campaigns. In the meantime, we might continue to have integrated groups at publishers selling into non-integrated agencies. Be mindful of the three things I outlined above and you'll save yourself a lot of heartache.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 file formats - Products - Microsoft Office Online
If you are using Office 2003, please install this compatibility pack so you may open Office 2007 files. (Pete and Mario, this means you. *grin*)
and Pubcon. If you are one of those who goes
to events like Web 2.0 or TechCrunch40,
Pubcon might be an eye-opener.
Topix' Chris Tolles who goes every year
summarized the event last year. He's right
about this being a pragmatic crew. We
couldn't find people who are out to change
the world or who are looking to get eye-balls
and will worry about monetization later.
Pubcon'ers seem consumed with increasing
conversion rates by 5% on some obscure
network of web properties that caters to
retiring baby boomers or people who traffic
in auto spoilers. These people will look at
you side-wise if you exert any energy that is
not about putting cash in your pocket. One
speaker derisively pointed out how much
Google juice Nike wastes because it refuses
the advise of its SEOs to use the keywords
'shoes' on their home page - Nike's marketing
department insists on callings its product
'footware.' This is a cardinal sin at Pubcon.
The high priest at Pubcon is Google algo-god
Matt Cutts who gave a keynote address one
morning. Cutts was good to stick around
during the event but he put a chill up the
spine of speakers in one seminar who were
speaking about link-buying.
As our readers may know, Google recently
tweaked its algo to put the hurt on companies
that traffic in paid links such as PayPerPost
and TextLinkAds. The biggest gripe at Pubcon
was that Google has amassed history's
largest, fastest treasure chest by selling
links but now it's is punishing others for
selling links. As in Pubcon blogger put it "I
just won an iPod Nano and now I'm going to
blog about it and link to the company that
gave me the Nano. I'm then going to link to
Matt Cutts blog and ask him if this is banned
Perhaps the lightest and most visionary
presentation was given by Demand Media's
Richard Rosenblatt. The former MySpace
frontman ran a short video taken by
Justine.tv's Justine, showing the pair
descending into Las Vegas on the Rosenblatt
private jet. There was really no point to the
video and that's exactly what Rosenblatt
wanted us to leave with. People want to watch
video on the net even if it's lame. So Demand
Media is making a major push to fill up its
legions of web sites with video. And if you
can get users to make and submit video for
free that's all the better.
The big picture that Rosenblatt wanted us to
understand is that the 3 word searches (the
long tail) more often than not do not return
the helpful results that searchers seek.
Rosenblatt is buying domains, working seo and
filling up long-tail sites with content that
he feels will be helpful. That way the
domains that he bought for tens of millions
of dollars will provide greater returns than
what the sellers thought they could achieve.
The exit is clearly an IPO that will enable
Rosenblatt to upgrade his jet.
Monday, December 10, 2007
How do you navigate a nearly infinite world of digital data to find the best content for your tastes and needs? Our collective answer to this question is in its infancy, but Oregon based recommendation service MyStrands has now raised a whopping $55 million to build on the existing science of recommendation.
In a world at risk of information overload, where the line between content producers and consumers is no longer clear and where the pace of everyday life is increasing rapidly - I'd say the recommendation engine business is a very smart one to be in. There is ample precedent and this startup is moving into a relatively established field. Richard MacManus lauded the company's previous multi-million dollar investment and our enthusiasm here for this project continues.
The company announced this morning that it has raised a $24 million B round to take its recommendation system far beyond music. The company says it intends to "lead the social recommendation industry." The round was lead by Spanish bank BBVA and with the participating of existing investors from their June round of $25m. That's an insane amount of money and some people are bewildered why MyStrands has been given it. I'm not one of those people.
The Initial Product and Sales
The company started with an iTunes plug-in that recommends songs similar to what you're listening to and quickly expanded its offerings to include a full multi-media juke-box platform that lets people personalize public playlists with their mobile phones and profiles from home. With offices in Oregon, New York and Barcellona, Spain - this is a web 2.0 company with brisk sales already. The company says it will bank $12 million in 2007. That's no mean feat.
Why This is Very Smart
Music, however, is just the first of many areas of engagement for MyStrands. A huge part of the Amazon.com story is its product recommendation process. Netflix has some of the world's top scientists racing each other to outdo its in-house recommendation engine for a million dollar prize. Last.fm's music recommendation community went to CBS for $280 million. StumbleUpon built web page recommendation into a tasty morsel for eBay to scoop up.
Now MyStrands has a war chest to hire top scientists and bring try and take recommendation to the next level for any type of data. If you can't see the value in that, then you're probably not paying attention.
MyStrands would be a great place to see attention data made real, be it in APML or some other open data standard. This is the kind of company that could create piles of that data or make great use of inbound Attention Data for superior recommendations. MyStrands' recent hire of Scott Kveton, Chair of the OpenID Foundation, to be the company's Director of Open Platforms makes me think that something like that is probably in the works. Kveton says the company is "looking closely at APML, as well as working on some other 'open formats' for describing user taste data. The gist is, the users own this data and we want to give them as much control over it as possible."
When I first saw MyStrands several years ago I thought it looked like a trivial and akward little iTunes plug-in. Like so many startups, though, this company had a much bigger vision all along. Now that vision has $55m in backing, is making big hires and is will record $12m in sales already this year. I'd say this is one company you've got to keep an eye on.
This is the Cal band playing a halftime show from earlier this month. It's their "video game show," and it's pretty much the coolest thing ever. They run through a number of classic game songs, all while forming scenes from the games out of the band itself. It's got everything from Pong and Tetris to Zelda and Mario, and it's amazing. It makes me want to play Nintendo and join a drum line all at the same time. Well, maybe just play Nintendo, but you get the idea.
|by Tameka Kee, Monday, Dec 10, 2007 7:30 AM ET|
| THE LUSTER OF FACEBOOK'S BEACON ad program has faded, and News Corp.'s MySpace members have long complained about marketer spam, but entrepreneurs continue go after major advertising dollars with social networks--and Capazoo is the latest entrant in this over-saturated market.|
While Montreal-based Capazoo officially launched a year ago, the social network got a revamp this October. The community features the necessary tools of profile creation, image and video sharing, and loads of dynamic content--but what makes Capazoo different is its goal to kick back 7% of net profits to its members through a micro-currency called Zoops.
With Zoops, members can "tip" each other for posting original images, video clips and other content--and ultimately, Capazoo enables them to cash out those Zoops via a branded ATM card. Of course, users need to purchase Zoops in the first place, so some in the industry have questioned just how the actual profit sharing is accomplished.
Although there is a subscription-based membership available, a significant portion of the company's revenue stems from advertising, with contextual, geo- and demographic targeted display inventory, as well as post- and mid-roll video available.
There are also the myriad partnerships with companies like Hertz for discounted car rentals, National Lampoon for content distribution and IMERGENZA for band and concert ticket promotions. But according to Matthew Ross, Capazoo's director of communications, the company's model is built to generate revenue without inundating members with ads.
"Capazoo is what we call a member-driven economy," Ross said. "They dictate what are the most popular videos and other content, and they tip each other for it. We have a policy of no advertising on personal profiles, blogs or user uploaded video." Members can also earn Zoops by referring new friends to the network.
But some in the industry have called Capazoo's operating structure "bloated," noting that for a property with only 13,000 visits in November (as per Compete), 100+ head count and additional offices in Toronto, Atlanta and Miami, the model doesn't seem scalable.
By: Tim Leberecht
I gave this presentation last week in Stuttgart, Germany. Forgive me for the “conversation 2.0″ moniker but it’s a catchy way to pinpoint what’s happening right now in the world of marketing. Marketers and brands have always had conversations, but at a much slower pace and mediated by professional parties. That’s no longer the case. Conversation 2.0, that is, the web 2.0- enabled conversation, shifts places and times; it is ubiquitous and doesn’t pause — it is, in all senses of the meaning, a “never-ending conversation.”
Thus, “social marketing,” derived from the more common “social media marketing,” is all marketing that utilizes the social graph of both marketer and audience (in fact, the interesting thing is that they can be one and the same) to facilitate and cultivate a conversation. Social marketing is whenever more than two individuals collaborate online or offline for content generation and distribution. Social marketers harness the viral power of social networks in order to grow both the frequency and the reach of conversations exponentially. They know how to feed the social orbit with content that catalyzes conversations. And they understand that an “architecture of participation,” that lets employees be marketers, has become paramount for turning brands into live brands.
The media of the new era of social marketing are characterized by the following attributes:
- Hybrid: The boundaries between institutions and players are blurring. This results in the mash-up of producer and consumer (prosumer), fan and consumer (fansumer), professional and amateur (proteur), and the convergence of media, platforms, and communication modes.
- Adaptive: Change happens in real-time and is organically built into the social media mechanisms. The never-ending conversation is in fact a never-ending loop: Feedback is creation, creation is feedback.
- Transparent: Everything is visible to everyone. Self-expression and revelation go hand in hand. Privacy has become a public asset, and the more you share, the more (information) you will receive in return.
- Open: Open is the new closed. Everybody can join. Systems are inter-operable (see Google’s Open Social initiative). The best way to build loyalty and retain visitors is to let them go whenever and wherever they want to go. The best way to lock customers into your business model is if you open it up for everyone. Seth Goldstein just had a great post about this, in which he argued that open systems need to be closed, to a certain extent, in order to function.
- Micro: The online social universe is fragmented into an increasing number of micro-universes that develop their own micro-crowds and micro-formats. Micro is the new macro: Not only is “small the new big,” and “selling less of more” may be “the future of business” (The Long Tail) — communicating more of less is the future of media and communications. More and more businesses identify and carve out untapped niches for their business models with ever more targeted, personalized, and localized offerings.
- Social graph: It’s not just who you know; it’s what you know about what who you know knows. We are “a crowd of one” (Clippinger), an interdependent cohort of individual personas. We experience a widgetization of content, of social behavior, of value(s).
- Instant: “Now is gone” (Geoff Livingston). Everything that happens is happening immediately or not at all. Live-Chat, live-streaming or 24/7 life-casting (Justin.tv) — we want it all and we want it now. The time between action and reflection has shrunk to zero. Beta is eclipsing meta.