Friday, December 14, 2007

Facebook Advertising

I know class is over, but I thought that I would share my Zappos/Facebook experience. I just ordered a pair of shoes on Zappos.com, and on the order confirmation page, this popped up:

What would you like to notify your friends on Facebook about?

I guess this is how they are trying to get people to opt in!

Read more...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The dark side of file-sharing (LimeWire)

Many of the hundreds of millions of people around the world who swap music, movies and other digital content on their personal computers over the Internet have inadvertently put themselves at risk of identity theft.
Users of popular file-sharing services such as LimeWire have found themselves victims of identity theft when their personal information was inadvertently shared on a so-called peer-to-peer network. And recent high-profile breaches via these networks have put thousands of people's financial information at risk. The problem typically arises when users set up file-sharing software and create a folder for their downloads in the same location as their personal files.
Precise data on the incidence are hard to come by, in part because personal information can be accessed many different ways, and victims may not think to blame their file-sharing activities. But identity-theft experts say the problem is real and growing.
The risk from file-sharing "will get worse before it gets better," says Don McGillen, executive director of Carnegie Mellon CyLab, an initiative of the university in Pittsburgh that develops computer-security technology.
In the latest incident, a Seattle man this week pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft for using LimeWire to steal tax forms, credit reports and student-loan applications from the computers of more than 50 people. He used the information to set up phony credit accounts to buy merchandise online.
Citigroup in September confirmed that it was looking into a data breach where the names and Social Security numbers from 5,200 customer accounts were inadvertently leaked by an employee using LimeWire. And in June, Pfizer said the names and Social Security numbers of 17,000 current and former employees were leaked after the spouse of an employee downloaded file-sharing software onto a company laptop. Both companies say they aren't aware of any identity theft linked to the breaches, but they have offered the affected employees or customers free credit monitoring.
In another case involving charges of identity theft, computer crime and racketeering against a group in the Denver area, the final defendant pleaded guilty last week to racketeering. The group had used LimeWire to access several financial records and used the money from their practices to buy methamphetamine, according to the indictment.
"Once the meth addicts have discovered it, it is in widespread use" for identity theft, says Tom Sydnor,director of the Center for the Study of Digital Property with the Progress and Freedom Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Regulators, identity-theft experts and the file-sharing services themselves acknowledge the growing risk and are taking steps to address it. Last month, the House Oversight and Government Reform committee sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging it to expand its focus on file-sharing to protect users from identity theft. At least one company, Tiversa Inc., Cranberry Township, Pa., is offering products to monitor the sharing of files online. And LimeWire and other file-sharing services say they are seeking to limit how files are shared. Many identity-theft experts, however, say the steps are inadequate or confusing.
File-sharing allows users to swap personal files on their hard drives -- from music files and videos to documents and PDFs -- via a peer-to-peer network (often called a P2P). Users download software from one of a number of services that operate on these networks, with names like BearShare, Kazaa, Morpheus and LimeWire. The software then lets users access one of several P2P networks. Once users are connected to the network, they can search for and download copies of files that other users have shared from their hard drives -- even users of other software that use the same network.
P2P networks are often disparaged by critics for enabling users to illegally download copyright material. P2Ps first came to national attention in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the original version of Napster battled litigation from the music industry. The possibility of identity theft wasn't really on the radar then. But now, the newer applications such as LimeWire -- which unlike Napster don't house a database of files on their own servers, in an attempt to avoid copyright litigation -- have led to a surge in popularity. At any given time, as many as 12 million people world-wide are logged on to P2P networks, according to Tiversa, and 450 million copies of P2P software have been downloaded.
...
...

Here's how inadvertent file-sharing often starts: When a user sets up the software for the P2P service, one of the first steps is to create a folder for the files the user will be downloading. Often, the user will place that folder within the computer's "My Documents" folder -- where people also typically put their personal files, including tax returns or other financial documents. Depending on how the user set up the program, all the files in the "my documents" folder or whatever convenient host folder was chosen -- and all of the subfolders -- are then available to others in the network.
Someone who searches a network for, say, "tax return" may be able to download a copy of those personal files off other users' computers. If a user has a company laptop, or has access to company files on their home computer, these files can get leaked, too -- even from the corporate server, Tiversa says.
Even tech-savvy users often don't have a clear understanding of how this works and how to protect select files on their computers, say identity-theft experts. The P2P services' software can be confusing, these experts say, and sometimes users think they have limited the sharing of their files, when in fact, they haven't.
Each service requires different steps. Consumers can try to consult with their software provider, but some are located overseas, identity-theft experts say. And even some experts disagree on the correct steps to use. A recent report from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reviewed several online sources that offered instructions on how not to share files on P2P networks, and said most of the instructions were dated and inaccurate.
But for people who do want to use P2Ps, some experts advise reserving a separate computer just for file-sharing.
LimeWire -- one of the most popular P2Ps with an estimated 50 million users -- says confusion is mainly a problem for neophyte users. Mark Gorton, chairman of LimeWire, says the company doesn't track how much inadvertent sharing goes on, but he says the company has been tweaking the software to make it easier for people to avoid inadvertent sharing. For instance, he says that in the latest version of LimeWire, users are no longer able to share their entire C drive. The company has also added a warning icon that tells users how many files they are sharing and will show them a list if they click on it.
Another popular P2P service, BearShare, has had trouble in the past with users inadvertently sharing files. In 2006, BearShare was bought by a unit of iMesh Inc. as part of a larger settlement between the Recording Industry Association of America and BearShare creator Free Peers Inc. Talmon Marco, president of iMesh, says that the current iteration of BearShare helps to curb inadvertent sharing: Users can swap only media files, such as those for music or movies. Other files, such as PDFs, Word documents or text documents can no longer be shared.
Marty Lafferty, chief executive for the Distributed Computing Industry Association, questions the significance of file-sharing in the total cases of identity theft. Still, he says, the organization is developing best practices for the industry with regards to inadvertent file-sharing. For example, the DCIA is advising its members to rework their programs' warnings to make it clearer when users are sharing files that they might not intend to, says Mr. Lafferty.
Tiversa offers a consumer product that monitors customers' file-sharing, for an annual charge of $24.95. If a group of files that might contain sensitive information has been designated to be shared, the company will alert the customer and explain how to stop the sharing. Tiversa can also tell the user whether a shared file has been downloaded by another user.

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Facebook

Facebook backs off (at least a bit) on violation of users privacy. Interestinlgy enough, the CEO chose to comment on this development in a Facebook BLOG. Below is an exercpt fm a WSJ of Dec 6th, which also discusses the possible ramifications on the valuation of the company (recently estimated at 15 billion when MS acquired a 1.6% stake) and on the satisfaction of target-advertisers:

"In a Facebook blog, Mr. Zuckerberg yesterday wrote, "We've made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we've made even more with how we've handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it." He added that Facebook users can now adjust their privacy settings to opt out of the Beacon program entirely.
Before the change announced yesterday, it would take as many as four clicks on settings to stop Facebook from sharing information. Beacon critics said it should be easier to opt out.
Beacon's success is crucial for Facebook, of Palo Alto, Calif. Third-party sites, working in conjunction with Facebook, use Beacon at no cost. Facebook benefits because, when a Facebook user shares information with his friends, Facebook can use that information to learn about the individual and send him targeted ads.
Advertisers typically pay a premium for targeted ads that reach users who are likely to be most interested in their product or service. That is key to Facebook's effort to increase its revenue, which will be slightly more than $150 million this year, according to people familiar with the matter.
Facebook is trying to raise as much as $200 million in the next few months, on top of the $300 million it has raised in a round of funding that values it at $15 billion. Potential investors will likely look closely at Beacon's prospects in determining Facebook's value. Last week, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing closed a deal to acquire a 0.4% stake in the site for $60 million.
Overstock.com Inc., a Facebook partner, stopped using Beacon late last month because it wasn't satisfied with the way Facebook handled the program's start. The online retailer, based in Salt Lake City, says it doesn't plan to start using Beacon again until it knows Facebook users are happy with it.
"It's off, and it will stay off until we're satisfied that Facebook has better explained to its users what's going on," says Jonathan Johnson, Overstock's senior vice president for corporate affairs and legal.
Criticism over Beacon surged late last month, when MoveOn.org Civic Action formed its group to protest. The group represents a little more than 0.1% of Facebook's 57 million active users but has been highly vocal and has attracted considerable blog and media coverage. The number of people in MoveOn.org's group is also significant compared with the number of users who have encountered Beacon, which is in the "low six figures," according to Facebook.
Adam Green, a spokesman for MoveOn.org Civic Action, said his organization is satisfied with Facebook's changes. "Facebook's policy change is a big step in the right direction, and we hope it begins an industrywide trend that puts the basic rights of Internet users ahead of the wish lists of corporate advertisers," he said.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

A New Product In The Video Search Space

A new video search site is launching and for those intereted in seeing what it does read the blog entry below or visit the website for ClipBlast. The blog also gives a handy list of the leading video search engine sites as a point of comparison.

URL: http://www.videonuze.com/blogs/details.php?id=277

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So I take it we didn't earn enough money on ads to have a pizza party...

Everyone click on ads in the blog!! MUHAHA!!

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WiFi on Airplanes...Finally!

Many of us have been waiting for the day when we could finally feed our Blackberry addiction on flights, when there is nothing else to do and you've already seen the movie they're showing. That day is here - albeit with strings attached. Starting December 11, JetBlue will offer Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger, and Crackberry users can also check their mail/messenger. The service is free and there is some affinity between Yahoo! users and JetBlue fans, so it's a step in the right direction. The service is still limited though. If JetBlue could offer unlimited free Web access, this could help build their brand loyalty just like DIRECTV made them hip and different.

American Airlines and Virgin will both start offering Web access n Spring 2008, but of course there is a catch - $10 a flight for access. The business travelers will take the bait since they can expense it. The leisure (i.e. grad student) travelers like me aren't as likely to bite - it feels like yet another way the airlines are nickel-and-diming us - but then again, I'm already spending $5 on a magazine. So maybe the airlines just need to market and frame it the right way...

URL:
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/07/how-do-you-build-an-airline-offer-free-wi-fi/#comments

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The Internet to Benefit From the Writer's Strike?

With the writers on strike, some believe that advertisers will turn to the Internet...

Who Would Benefit From Writers Strike? The Portals?

By Rafat Ali - Fri 07 Dec 2007 05:00 PM PST

So thinks Doug Anmuth, the Internet analyst from Lehman Brothers, in his weekly Friday note. Among his points:
-- Given that remaining TV inventory available in the “scatter” market is limited and reports suggest scatter ad rates which are 30%-40% above upfront rates, we believe advertisers may turn to where they know audience levels are growing and mass reach is still somewhat cost effective--the Internet.
-- We estimate a shift of 1% of total 2008 broadcast advertising revenue to the online channel could result in $491 million of incremental spending, potentially bringing our U.S. online advertising growth forecast from our current ‘08 estimate of 24% up to 26%.
-- We believe the primary online beneficiaries would be display-based sites such as Yahoo!, (NSDQ: YHOO) AOL, (NYSE: TWX) and MSN, along with advertising networks able to replicate broad reach.
-- While viewers are typically not alerted when a particular week’s episode is in fact a re-run, given the notable press coverage of this year’s writers strike we believe viewers are more keenly aware of the lack of new episodes and are therefore more likely to change viewing patterns.


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The Mid-tail?

As I was catching up on reading email newsletters from the past couple of weeks I came across this interesting advertising analysis that further segments the Pareto curve beyond the Head and the Long Tail. Based on comScore data, the market of over 100 million web properties breaks down into four distinct sets, each with its own unique features and benefits: the 4 Portals, Top 50 Properties, 1000 Mid-tail properties, and the 100mil+ Long-tail sites.

Definitely informative for anyone in the online advertising space. Seems like the Mid-tail sites offer a great compromise between cost, reach and creative execution.

URL: http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=71749&Nid=36807&p=430092

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Classmates first social network to go public

Everyone is trying to cash in on social networking these days. The latest attempt comes from Classmates Media, which just filed to go public at a valuation of $600 to $700 million. That is a smidgeon of Facebook’s still-private $15 billion valuation, but Classmates is no Facebook.Its site, Classmates.com, is more a competitor of Reunion.com (which raised $25 million last April). While Facebook’s U.S. visitors grew 129 percent in September to 31 million (according to comScore), Classmate.com’s shrank 12 percent to 13 million. (Even Reunion.com managed an 18 percent gain).
Before buying this IPO, investors should look at who is selling. That would be United Online, which is spinning off 20 percent of its Classmates subsidiary and taking $50 million of the expected proceeds as payment for a loan (apparently, United Online didn’t want to simply invest in the business). United Online will keep the other 80 percent, and United Online CEO Mark Goldstone will also be the CEO of Classmates Media, and he is personally getting 2.8 million options at the IPO price. United Online’s current market cap is $1.2 billion. If it can price the IPO where it expects, at $10 to $12 a share, that would imply that half its value is attributable to Classmates.
Here’s what we learn from a quick perusal of Classmates’ S1:
—Revenues the first nine months of 2007 weer $140 million. (Full-year 2006 revenues weer $139 million; 2005 revenues were $85 million).—Net income the first nine months was $1.6 million. ($1.9 million loss in 2006; $8.2 million loss in 2005).—50 million registered users as of September, 2007. Only 12.8 million of which are active and 3 million of which pay on average $3.33 a month to email and connect with old friends directly.—Monthly churn of 4.6 percent
Classmates makes money primarily from those people willing to pay a subscription. It also operates MyPoints, a loyalty awards marketing service, and owns a French social network, Trombi, and Sweden’s Stayfriends.
Here was the doozy from the Risk Factors section:
If our social networking members do not interact with our Web sites, our business and financial results will suffer.
Our success is dependent upon our social networking members interacting with our Web sites. Currently, the network effect on our social networking Web sites is limited, and the vast majority of our member activity is within our high school communities. Our members do not visit our Web sites frequently and spend a limited amount of time on our Web sites when they visit. In addition, only a limited number of our social networking members post photographs and information about themselves, engage in message board discussions, view other members’ profiles or participate in the other features on our Web sites. If we are unable to encourage our members to interact more frequently with our social networking Web sites and to increase the amount of user generated content they provide, our ability to attract new users to our Web sites, convert free members to paying subscribers and attract advertisers to our Web sites will be adversely affected. As a result, our business and financial results will suffer, and we will not be able to grow our business as planned.
Oh, and the FTC is investigating its membership subscription auto-renewal policy, where it just keeps charging your credit card until you tell it to stop. (Imagine what its churn rate would be if it didn’t resort to that sleazy tactic?). Maybe the FTC should try to find out why anyone would pay to be part of a social network when there are so many others out there that let you keep up with your high school or college friends for free.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Long Tail - Making the World a Better Place

The “Long Tail” - I’ll begin at the end; the “Long Tail” concept is a true embodiment of democracy; a consumer democracy, in which we the consumers have the greatest possible selection to choose from, while not being limited by the offerings that companies want to “feed” us. The Long Tail concept talks about the elimination of hits from being our main consumption source, as more niche products get a stage with the elimination of the wall that the retailers put between consumers and freedom of choice.

As the internet becomes more and more prominent in society, consumers can purchase almost any product if not digitally, via digital retail outlets, which are not limited by shelf space and rental fees. In some cases a product can be produced on the spot, for example custom printing of books. The digitation of products, i.e. Amazon Kindle, which enables us to download books onto digital format, eliminates the need for brick and mortar marketing and distribution. Of course, retailers are losing their competitive advantage as the market relies heavily on digital technologies due to elimination of the fixed costs, which used to be the driver of barrier to entry in many industries, especially in consumer goods industries.

Companies like Google can benefit from the Long Tail concept, as they become brokers in the sale of almost any possible product. Any retailer that pays Google in the CPA pricing model actually pays Google a commission for every purchase the consumer makes. When thinking of music, Napster does not hold shelf space and as it does not actually develop talent and doesn’t pay for recording studios, the company can enjoy the revenue generation, while holding no inventory and not paying rent. Amazon’s Kindle could revolutionize the book industry, as it provides consumers a convenient and inexpensive way to purchase any book immediately, while eliminating the need for shelf space.

When thinking of the artists and authors that are the drivers behind the media industry, there is much more room for unexpected stars to shine, as their voices may be heard. If traditionally, only records, books or movies with blockbuster success, or at least minimum expected sales volume, were actually published, in the digital age, the voices of these creators can be heard cheaply online, with the ability to test the products for free online. Word of mouth marketing plays an important role here, as one satisfied consumer can promote the book of an obscure writer who otherwise would have never been published. The snowball effect can take place and lead to the birth of an online bestseller. This way the consumers, not the publishers, determine the next bestsellers.

Netflix, which is about to drive Blockbuster out of business, using the internet as its marketing extension, is now holding online inventory, which can be downloaded instead of ordered on hard format. What Netflix failed to consider was that as Blockbuster’s competitive advantage was eliminated but the incorporation on video rental services online, the same is happening to it. As the video renal business is not one with high customer captivity, many other player are entering this online market and cutting Netflix’s margins perpetually. If Netflix finds a way to push away competitors like iTunes and other subscription based services, it may exist in this market. I view this scenario unlikely to happen.

In summary, the Long Tail concept thins the fat corporate cats, that have lost their competitive advantage and leaves much more room for alternative products that are now cheaper to market than ever before. The Long Tail is about the consumers gaining the power that capitalism intended them to have from its inception.


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New technology to track website visits

An article on the first page of the Marketplace section of today's WSJ reports that CenturyTel Inc., a phone company providing internet access, is using a technology developed by NebuAd that can keep track of every website its users visit.  This is an improvement (of sorts) over current trackers monitor only certain sites.  It does however allow users to opt out.  And it reports that it protects privacy by not tracking visits to sites related to sex, health, and politics.  Still, they could discover your obsession with Barry Mannilow, so be warned.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Facebook now lets users opt out

Facebook said it would now let members completely opt out of Beacon, its controversial advertising product that shares information about its users' purchases with their friends.

http://www.adweek.com/aw/national/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003681440

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Worried about Beacon?

Don't be. There's a firefox plug in that blocks data transmission between Facebook and external sites. Get it here, and if you're worried your Christmas will just be ruined, better tell your friends too.

Oh, and here's how to do it.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Why consumers open E-mails

I found this article interesting because I have seen many articles writing how we make consumers open E-mails, but not why consumers open E-mails.

http://www.wilsonweb.com/email/wilson-why-open.htm

Discussions so far has been a kind of "product out" thinking rather than "customer in" way of thinking. This analysis is just an first step to understand why consumers open e-mails, but this type of further analysis would lead to know consumers much better.

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LA Times adds Mixx

Since we were talking about newspapers online I thought it would be interesting to note how they are connecting to social bookmarking sites to drive more traffic. LA Times just announced that it will incorporate Mixx (similar to Digg) into its website. Wall Street Journal has already started using Digg buttons on its website. I think it is interesting how these newspapers are trying to incorporate the social trend. I personally think there is too much social networking surrounding us, I would not mind a break when I read my news.



http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/04/la-times-invests-in-mixx-integrates-social-news-site

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Facebook Privacy

I found an interesting article on the privacy issues of facebooks new Beacon Program. Thought it might be of interest to people.

'The more details that emerge about Facebook's Beacon platform, theworse an idea it seems.It's glaringly obvious that the new program -- which alerts people'sfriends of their online purchases -- violates users' privacy. And,while Facebook argues that the program poses no threat because userscan always opt out of it, it's now come to light that the opt-outmechanism itself is seriously flawed.The Associated Press reported last week that Facebooks users who makepurchases at sites participating in the program have just 20 secondsin which to opt out of having that information published. That'sbecause the opt-out mechanism consisted of a small pop-up thatvanishes 20 seconds after it appeared. After the window disappears, sodoes the user's chance to opt out.At launch, 44 companies are participating in the Beacon program,including movie ticketer Fandango, travel company Travelocity andonline shoe retailer Zappos.Consider, this roster of participants means that people's Facebookfriends can now know details of their lives ranging from what moviesthey watch to how much they spent on a new pair of boots -- unlesspeople can act quickly enough to keep that information frompublishing.But one reason people like online shopping at places like Zappos isbecause they offer speed and convenience -- including the convenienceof not needing to scrutinize the terms and conditions with vigilance.At many of these sites, people enter their credit card information andbilling address once and don't worry about it again. Unless they'vebeen following the business pages, they certainly have no reason tothink that their purchases are about to become common knowledge.Given that, it's clear that the Beacon program has the potential toblindside users; it's not even slightly surprising that a protestgroup started by MoveOn has drawn 20,000 members in less than a week.Companies don't choose default settings by accident. Facebookexecutives had to have known requiring opt-outs would result in farmore participation than requiring users to affirmatively opt in to theprogram. Still, if the company cares about protecting users' privacy,it should immediately revamp this poorly thought out program.'

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For You Holiday Cyber Shoppers Out There

http://www.pricespider.com/

http://www.priceprotector.com/

these two websites will allow you to track those holiday sales prices

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Wikipedia Contributors to be Paid?

Well, not just yet. However MIT professor and online community pioneer Philip Greenspun has given the Wikipedia Foundation $20,000 to start paying "artists who create 'key illustrations' for the site". While $20k might not be a big start financially, it might be a turning point in how contributors are recognized. To facilitate this distribution, Wikipedia will layout an infrastructure that could in the future allow all contributors to be paid for their contributions.

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Apple drops NBC's Heroes and The Office, among others...

Apple, having yet to renew its content distribution agreement with NBC Universal, began pulling all television programming produced by the network from its iTunes digital download service this past weekend.

The ongoing dispute between Apple and NBCU stems from the pricing of the content within iTunes.

Apple claims that NBCU wanted to more than double the price per episode from $1.99 to $4.99. Meanwhile, NBCU maintains that it was only trying to keep the door open to more flexible pricing methods and was hoping to price Heroes at $2.99 on a trial basis.

Given how the music industry power structure has shifted to Apple, this zinger of a quote from NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker is hardly surprising:

"
We know that Apple has destroyed the music business -- in terms of pricing -- and if we don’t take control, they’ll do the same thing on the video side."

For more, click here: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/07/12/03/apple_drops_nbc_television_shows_from_itunes.html

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Monday, December 03, 2007

facebook: - Privacy Troubles

facebook is toeing a dangerous line.

Apparently, some of its major advertising partners are getting cold feet, including Coca Cola, Overstock & Travelocity, over privacy issues! Thank goodness someone cares...

This is just more backlash against facebook's Beacon program that tracks user purchases and displays them on a user's network newsfeed. This backlash is happening even after facebook changed its Beacon program from an Opt-Out program to an Opt-In.

You'd think facebook would be a little less aggressive in attacking its users with this new ad-based revenue model. If the backlash continues, and facebook doesn't let up, there are leaving room for a competitive attack, in my opinion.

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Online Dating meets YouTube??

Yes, the two have sparked an interesting, fledgling relationship! Say hello to "Say Hey Hey!"

"Say Hey Hey!" is currently in Beta phase, but aims to become the YouTube of online dating services. Although videos on online dating sites is not unique, WooMe and SpeedDate use video media to create matches between users, "Say Hey Hey!" is approaching it in a pretty creative way by enabling users to post wacky, "not appropriate for work" videos meant to woo other singles into contacting them and, hopefully, sparking a romantic match.

Single? Click here --> Say Hey Hey

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Vidoop

"A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when those words are passwords you can’t remember."

This is the tag line for a new web business trying to solve a problem that many of us are faced with day to day. A dilemma exists for people who find themselves signing on to more and more password protected sites and services everyday - signing on to social networking sites, bank account and credit card statements and everything in between. The dilemma is whether or not to stick to one password for every site, thereby putting not one but all of your accounts at risk of being compromised in an identity theft situation, or to create multiple, unique passwords for all of ones online accounts at the risk of spending 15 minutes typing in 100 different username/password combinations every time you want to check in on your bank balance.

Vidoop offers a password "keychain" for all of the accounts you log into online! Vidoop then protects your passwords by creating an image based authentication system (obviously not another username & password combo!). In other words, Vidoop provides "a visual grid of images that fall into particular categories. When you first create a myVidoop account, you pick 3-5 types of images (e.g. birds, skyscrapers, flowers, cars). Then whenever you need to authenticate with myVidoop, you simply type the letters of the images in a randomly generated grid that fall into your chosen categories."

And of course, this approach is way more secure than your traditional online password process as it is impossible for a computer to distinguish between the encrypted pictures.

www.vidoop.com

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New spam-blocking technology?

There's an article in today's NYT about a new technology developed by Steven Kirsch (who founded Infoseek) to block spam.  According to Kirsch the technology will be much more effective than current spam blockers, though its effectiveness depends on the number of people who use it.  Below I've pasted how the article says it works.

 I don't get it.  Can anyone explain to me what the reputations of recipients are?  Or how this works?  I understand that it doesn't simply scan emails for signs of spam.  But that's about it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Has AOL Figured Out Video Advertising?

AOL recently announced plans to introduce a new ad format to integrate into online videos. Advertisers know that users hate pre-roll ads but these are much more valuable than post-roll ads since viewers can't skip them. Nevertheless, the ad industry is eager to find the best way to include advertising in video without alienating consumers.

AOL's new ad format is a way to address the issue and it may be a real leap forward. Basically AOL will be offering "video ticker ads," a graphic banner ad that is integrated directly into streaming video content. The ads will appear for a short time and disappear if the user doesn't click on it. If the user does click on it, the video will pause while the a full ad (e.g. - video or Flash) is launched.

The real beauty of this new format is that it could also be adapted in the future for interactive television advertising. We are already accustomed to tickers (aka - "lower thirds") that contain information or network promos. The next step could be advertisements that could be triggered by pushing a button on your cable remote that would pause your program and launch an interactive ad.

Sounds promising. Here's a link to the full announcement from a couple of weeks ago:
http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=71229&Nid=36507&p=216556

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Black 20

Prof. Kagan highlighted Heavy.com as a content site, sponsored by AXE.

I recently came across this site, Black20.com, that creates it own content and posts new material every day. The founders were formerly of NBC Digital Studios but left to form their own broadband content company. See this article from the New York Times for more: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/01/arts/television/01heff.html.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Google Maps Adds Locator

Google Maps Adds Locator, But Not For iPhone

Google has updated its Google Maps application adding a new feature called My Location.

Google has updated its Google Maps application adding a new feature called "My Location." While the new feature is available for many phones, Apple's iPhone is not among them.

My Location approximates your location by using the surrounding cellular towers instead of GPS data, which is often associated with such features.

"It's not GPS, but it comes pretty close (approximately 1000m close, on average)," said Google. "We're still in beta, but we're excited to launch this feature and are constantly working to improve our coverage and accuracy."

To find your location, you simply press the "0" button while in Google Maps. Your approximate location is shown with a blue dot on the map.

Google said the My Location feature is available for most web-enabled mobile phones, including Java, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Nokia/Symbian devices.

User interest in the discussion area for an iPhone version seems high, but the feature is not compatible with the iPhone

>> Comments from Sanne: I installed the update on my Blackberry and am surprised by the accuracy. At most, it locates you in the next street. I estimate that the accuracy is in the range of 100m


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More Privacy from Google Street View

Google Street Views Hides Your Face. What Took So Long?
November 30, 2007
— 05:35 PM PST — by Kristen Nicole

Finally, Google’s thinking about making its Street Views map completely anonymous, to protect the privacy of people that show up in the photographs. For its Europe Street Views version, Google will be modifying all photos to ensure that faces and license plates are not visible. It may do the same with the US version, which launched months before Street Views in Europe.

    google-street-views.png

So what took so long? Privacy advocates were all over Street Views when it first came about. And while Google made a few concessions to appease those with privacy concerns by offering to alter images upon request, it looks like Google may finally be doing the right thing when it comes to these Street Views maps.

This could be in part because of the increased amount of pressure being placed on Google as it expands globally. Other countries are far more strict about privacy standards than the US. Thankfully, Google’s announced that it will be thinking about making changes accordingly to the US version as it takes these steps for meeting privacy standards across the world. This will be something that other services, like EveryScape, will have to keep in mind for their own expansion as well.

A possible downfall of modified street views images–getting slightly less funny pictures to poke fun at. What do you think: good for Google, or waste of time?


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Friday, November 30, 2007

Hyper-connected generation rises

Hyper-what?

that's right. we're part of a new generation, well those kids just younger than us at least. People are becoming hyper connected. That means every part of your daily activity can now be shared with your friends. From when you wake up to what you're eating, where you're going out, what TV station you're watching when, and when you are asleep.

This may seem a bit bizarre from the view point of do you really want people to know so much about you. But human psychology tells us that we do have a need for other people to feel connected to us, and whether this is at a superficial level or not. Jaiku is one such "microblogging" service that allows friends to inform each other of their activities across a range of devices. Comments can be sent and received via a cell phone or the web.

See for more details: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6637865.stm






http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6637865.stm

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Young warned over social websites

Well, there you have it. A watch dog group in the UK has warned that young adults could damage their careers with details about themselves on social networking websites.

This is a real spoiler. If we all become conscious of what we're putting up because we think a nosy employer, school or parent will check us up, the beauty of online freedom is eroded. Social networking sites let you be you, and broadcast that image to your friends around the world. But when faced with a situation like this, people may button up and social networking websites lose their cache.

Personally, even though there is some concern in terms of posting those drunken club pictures, I think as society evolves, we will learn to separate professional and personal lifes. It will become less taboo. But until that times comes, better watch those postings while job hunting - you've been warned!

See the BBC article for more details:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7108627.stm

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Facebook Backtracks on Beacon

The launch of Facebook's Beacon system a few weeks ago triggered an outcry among users and privacy advocates, who found the automated posting of purchases and other activities on third party websites to users' Facebook news feeds intrusive. Facebook was even likened to the Grinch, for ruining users' holiday surprises by posting the gifts they had purchased online for all to see. In response, Facebook has made important changes to the Beacon functionality. The policy for posting Beacon activity to a user's news feed has changed from opt-out to opt-in, and the opportunity to control one's privacy settings have been made more prominent in the site's interface. Score one for user privacy rights?

More on the development here: Breaking: Facebook Updates Beacon

Facebook's official Beacon FAQ

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Yahoo and Adobe team up to put online ads in PDFs

http://news.yahoo.com/s/infoworld/20071129/tc_infoworld/93723_1

The way it works: "Publishers will upload to an Adobe/Yahoo portal the PDF files on which they want to display dynamic ads. The vendors will send the files back after reconditioning them to display dynamically generated Yahoo text ads whenever a Web site visitor calls them up."

Benefit for PDF publishers - Publishers will offer ad space to advertisers on their PDFs.
Benefit for advertisers: A new advertising channel for them.
Benefit for consumers: Publishers that were charging for their PDFs before may decide to offer their PDFs for free or at reduced prices.

One example that comes to mind is the Vault Career Guide books that consumers can buy and download in PDF form. These could be offered at reduced prices while showing ads for job-sites such as Monster.com, etc.

One major drawback I see (although it doesn't get much play in the article): "Situations in which the ads will not be displayed include if the user is offline when opening the document ... "

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Netflix & the Value of Consumer Information

This is a little bit old but it's still going on and really shows the value of consumer data. Netflix has agreed to give $1 million to anyone who can improve their DVD recommendation system. They have a particular algorithm to evaluate how good the improvements are and have a target score that gets someone the million dollar prize. It's pretty clear that Netflix must believe that even incremental improvements to its recommendations will continue to drive customers to its service.

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Facebook - Platform Applications Terms of Use

So a buddy of mine asked to add a separate application on facebook this week. I was going to add it, but i decided to read the terms of use firts. After reading the terms of use, i decided there was no way i was going to add the application.

http://developers.facebook.com/user_terms.php

Facebook clearly tells you in these terms what they are providing to the developer (it's different for every application) -- in summary, for this particular application, they provide your picture, name, b-day, hometown, political views, activities, interests, dating interests, relationship interests, and much more etc -- the full text is below. Facebook also releases itself from any liability from including this info --

I never used to pay attention to the "fine lines" of wording, but i will now think twice before adding any applications.




The Facebook Site Information may include, without limitation, the following information, to the extent visible on the Facebook Site: your name, your profile picture, your gender, your birthday, your hometown location (city/state/country), your current location (city/state/country), your political view, your activities, your interests, your musical preferences, television shows in which you are interested, movies in which you are interested, books in which you are interested, your favorite quotes, the text of your "About Me" section, your relationship status, your dating interests, your relationship interests, your summer plans, your Facebook user network affiliations, your education history, your work history, your course information, copies of photos in your Facebook Site photo albums, metadata associated with your Facebook Site photo albums (e.g., time of upload, album name, comments on your photos, etc.), the total number of messages sent and/or received by you, the total number of unread messages in your Facebook in-box, the total number of "pokes" you have sent and/or received, the total number of wall posts on your Wall™, a list of user IDs mapped to your Facebook friends, your social timeline, and events associated with your Facebook profile.

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Have fun with extra phone numbers

I was reading another blog and found a reference to this awesome online service.

Basically, you can get a free phone number to give people that you can then retire at any time (even within an hour). You can see who's called it and they can leave messages and everything.

Applications for this sound great - you could link it to your business and retire the number and change it regularly to avoid spam callers. You could use it for managing interviews.

Ladies - you could even set up a number before hitting Jakes Dilemma so that you have a plausible one to hand out to leeching banker sharks...

http://www.numbr.com/

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iTV? Not so fast my friend.

Perhaps you have wondered how to go about navigating the entirety of your home entertainment experience from the comfort of your living room sofa through your HDTV. Where can you go to get your very own iTV?

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of big players in the entertainment space with a lot to lose when the iTV begins to takeover households all over the world. Not surprisingly, most of the technology that is needed for the iTV already exists. Surprisingly, the iTV still doesn’t exist.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_47/b4059401.htm?campaign_id=rss_daily

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Yahoo to put adverts in PDF files

Yahoo has reached a deal to start running advertisements in PDF documents - a further example of advertising developing on the net.

The service will allow publishers to make money by including adverts linked to the content of a PDF document in a panel at the side of the page.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7118363.stm


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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What Is Web 2.0

There is a huge amount of disagreement about what Web 2.0 means amongst the geeks out there. And for the jocks that don't even though what that means, well, this is an interesting article to read.

http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html

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Doodle

I just used this website to find a common meeting time for 7 people and it worked quite effectively.

The way it works is:
  1. Create a poll.
  2. Forward the link to the poll to the participants.
  3. Follow online what the participants vote for.

http://www.doodle.ch/main.html


Not going to be the next biggest thing, but still is a handy tool!

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Can Facebook Make Me Rich??

I have long wondered this and thought of many ideas that could generate revenue from this mega social website. However it seems the very next time I log in, there's already a "Ilike" or "xmas tree" or "amazon books" application. But this is a good article on "howstuffworks.com" on how to make money on facebook.

http://money.howstuffworks.com/facebook-rich.htm

If you're a software developer with a little ambition and a good idea, then Facebook may be the company that makes you a very wealthy person. The social networking site that began in 2004 as a way for college students to keep in touch has expanded to allow everyone to create their own Facebook page. Since then, Facebook has carved a niche for itself in the tech world as a company that is willing to break through the traditional barriers of business.

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Facebook Feeling the Heat

Looks like the execs at Facebook are finally getting the message from its users that they feel uneasy about their new Beacon system. Changes to the system could be announced as early as tomorrow. You figure they're going to try and doing everything possible to maintain that $15 billion valuation.

http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/nov2007/tc20071128_366355.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index_businessweek+exclusives


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Search Marketing Tools for The Long Tail Advertisers

If you weren't paying attention then you would have missed the fact that 2007 was the year that online advertising started getting serious with major players (ie. -- Google, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, etc.) acquiring the large companies responsible for aggregating banner ad inventory and/or delivering that advertising to publishers.

Well, while the heavy hitters of the ad network industry were finally realizing their "exit strategies" a new company has sprung up to help deliver big agency campaign management to the thousands of firms in the long-tail of the search advertising marketplace. Over the last several weeks, executive announcements have been made regarding this new firm, Clickable, a company that will help micro advertisers and mid-size marketers optimize their search campaigns across the major search engines and advertising networks with minimal complexity.

According to Max Kalehoff, who was vice president of marketing at Nielsen BuzzMetrics and is assuming the same role at Clickable, "the top 1,000 search advertisers [the Google 1000], ....comprise about half the online search advertising marketplace. The balance, is the so-called long-tail, ranging from micro advertisers to mid-size marketers, who comprise the other half of the search advertising marketplace. The problem is when small and mid-size businesses start to scale up, they very quickly start to run into complexity in terms of managing different spreadsheets, dashboards and payment systems."

This new agency's campaign management engine will help these small advertisers compete with the Google 1000 companies that have dedicated agencies managing their campaigns. The Clickable "engine" will launch in 2008 and should help the search marketing field become even more robus by leveling the playing field further for the myriad of small advertisers.

Some recent articles on Clickable include:
BuzzMetrics' Kalehoff Joins Search Start-Up, Wants To Bring Optimization To The Masses
http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=70987&Nid=36372&p=430092

Former AOL Chair Backs New Search Tech Startup 'Clickable'
http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=71293&Nid=36546&p=430092


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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Talk about the end of privacy...

If you thought what Facebook is doing with selling our profiles to advertisers so they can target us better, how about Google's new investment in healthcare: 23andMe? It's a self-administered genetic test you can get online for $999 and mail in your spit so that you can learn about your genes and your families' genes (and so pharma companies can advertise to you better).

See the full article in the IHT: DNA testing comes for the masses

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Cyber Monday - Survey data with some interesting notes

Spurred by study saying that up to 3/4 of web shoppers were unsatisfied with the experience, Future Now designed a survey to see who was leading in online retail. They then sent out an army of mystery shoppers to rate the sites. There were some very interesting results.

To analyze the extent to which websites focus on the customer experience, Future Now sent mystery shoppers and Conversion Analysts to over 300 retail websites to gather information for our 2007 Retail Customer Experience Study.

What the Customer Focus Study Reviewed

The study consisted of visiting a retailer’s website and answering a series of Yes/No questions about the availability of 69 different factors that reflect a focus on customer experience. These factors were weighted based on our 10 years of optimizing retail website experiences and totaled to arrive at an eventual score for each site. The features we asked our shoppers and analysts to address include:

• Quality and detail of images (e.g., “Could the shopper zoom in?,” “Did the retailer provide product images from multiple angles?”)
• Product copy description answering the shopper’s implicit questions
• Whether the retailer offers customer reviews
• How the retailer met the shopper’s gift buying needs (e.g., “Did the retailer offer gift wrapping, messaging or gift certificates?”)
• Ease and simplicity of checkout (e.g., “How many pages did it take to check out?” “Did the retailer provide a progress indicator?”)
• Retailer’s ability to address the shopper’s concerns (e.g., return policies, guarantees, third-party seals and security assurances)
• Ease and clarity of retailer return policies
• Providing of shipping and tax totals early in the checkout process
• Offering multiple payment options (e.g., pay-by-check, PayPal, etc.)
• Offering estimated delivery times and showing in-stock availability for items
• Offering in-store pick-up where physical stores exist

We specifically asked the mystery shoppers to ignore:

• price points (inclusive of tax, shipping and handling);
• the ease in locating the products;
• the efficacy of the brand in conveying confidence;
• the impact of overall design on credibility and sales;
• the entire customer experience from search to purchase fulfillment.

Rather than evaluating the entire customer experience, this study provides a benchmark for retail sites based on more objective criteria. Therefore, our 2007 Retail Customer Experience Study provides a thumbnail view of how businesses speak to the needs of their customers.

There’s much work still to be done and plenty of opportunity for improvement. The top-rated site in this study scored only 67 out of a possible 100. Even the top-rated company has plenty of room to grow before it has thoroughly delighted its customers and improved its bottom line.

More data can be found here:
http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/11/26/cyber-monday-future-nows-2007-retail-customer-experience-study/

Interestingly, a whopping 35% had a checkout process with more than 4 steps.... As we all go online to buy presents, helping us speed through the process should be a priority...

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Be careful what you post on Facebook

A security company has contacted Facebook to improve its settings to keep network members from seeing so much information about other people in the same network, even though those members may not be that user's friend. For example, if I join the "New York City" network and put my full birthdate on the site, another "New York City" network member who is NOT my friend could view all the info on my profile, and potentially use my birthdate to commit identity theft. Yet another example of being aware and savvy of how your information on the net can be used against you. More details: http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=QZMSPJCMDFJL4QSNDLRSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=202200395

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ABC News teams with Facebook

ABC News is helping power Facebook’s politics section with video, polling, surveys, and discussions. This is Facebook's first formal partnership with a news organization. ABC News’ political reporters are also on Facebook.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/26/technology/26abc.html?_r=2&ei=5088&en=0195c7c10f17aeb5&ex=1353733200&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1196049876-uRv/KEmSU+LQhl/ya8Lp0g&oref=slogin

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Will it Blend? WSJ on youtube marketing:

The Journal has an article on youtube viral marketing and features my favorite viral marketer, the Blendtec guy. This nut is in my parents neighborhood, I don't know if they should be concerned. Certainly they shouldn't leave stuff lying around. Here are a few good ones for the unfamiliar:

Guitar Hero III
Chuck Norris
iPhone
Glowstick

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

How facebook stole christmas...

So, with facebook's beacon advertising program, online retailers can track the purchasing habits of facebook subscribers then broadcast recent purchases to all their friends in the hopes to leverage the Joneses theory

The result?
My friends can now figure out exactly what I got them for Christmas...

Thanks alot facebook.

linky

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As discussed in class...

Young warned over social websites, BBC News article on potential hazards due to what you put up social websites such as facebook
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7108627.stm

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Interesting articles on Social Networking future

Social networking faces uncertain future
http://www.news.com/Analyst-Social-networking-faces-uncertain-future/2100-1025_3-6214355.html

Few people would pay to use social networking sites
http://industry.tekrati.com/research/9545/



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Retail Store Fronts - Just an appetizer to the online store?

Nau (pronounced "now), a new outdoor apparel and sports wear company, is breaking new ground with its "web front" store concept, promoting a design philosophy based on performance, sustainability, and beauty.

The idea is that the physical retail store will push consumers onto their online site to buy the gear. How do they do it? They offer you discounts to buy online and then entice you to become part of their online world with a website with more depth than your average retailer...
-Invitations to blog about social sustainability (http://blog.nau.com/)
-$1500 prize money "what moves you" competition
-Each apparel description includes something on performance and sustainability and the picture of the garment should take care of the beauty angle.

Why do they do it? They would argue it is about sustainability - less use of natural resources and online is "now". Of course there is always the economic argument that an online retail site can be a darn site cheaper to run than a chain of retail stores with a load of stock out the back. With this concept they only have enough stock on hand for walk-ins to try them on for fit.

Would you go to their retail store? online store? or both?

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Shopping via cellphone - when will the US catch up??

I heart Google. Sounds like we will be able to purchase things via cellphone sooner than later.

I'm always disappointed at how far behind the US is on this as I think it could be a very convenient and useful application.

"Payments by cell phone? Its 2007, we should have had that by now! (as well as flying cars) Not to worry, Google is on it. Apparently the team in Mountain View California does have a patent describing how to make payments via cell phone by texting the sum to a processing server. Person to person transactions can also be made using cash by the integration of Google Checkout into the mix. As it sits now, Google Checkout is not currently accepted in as many places as its rival PayPal is, so unless Google does a little teaming up or offer some hardcore incentives, Gpay could be in trouble. However, at least there is a plan in effect to get those ridiculous wallets out of our pockets to make room for the highly anticipated Gphone."

Now if only this alleged "Gphone" people could work with the "iPhone" people so that we could have all the best from Google and Apple on one device.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Google Search vs. MSFT Live Search

I heard from a former MSFT employee that his colleagues use the best product out there regardless of brand. In the past month, many MSFT employees have supposedly been switching from the Google search engine to MSFT's Live Search (www.live.com). Even if MSFT's Live Search is better, are the majority of today's users too entrenched with Google to consider switching?

I went to Live Search and tried it out. IMO, I don't think it's any better than Google's or Yahoo.

On another note...if you guys haven't purchased www.YourName.com, you should before someone else does! :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

'Why don't you shut up?'

A clip of the King of Spain saying "Why don't you shut up" to Hugo Chavez has become a ringtone hit in Spain and Venezuela, reports say.

An estimated 500 000 people have now downloaded the insult, generating a reported £1-million (about R14-million). King Juan Carlos asked the Venezuelan president to "shut up" at a summit in Chile after the president said Spain's ex-PM Jose Maria Aznar was a "fascist".

In Venezuela, a group of students who oppose Chavez's government have been downloading the ringtone. "It's a form of protest," a 21-year-old student in Caracas told the Miami Herald. "It's something that a lot of people would like to tell the president."

For downloads:
http://alt1040.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/pq-no-te-callas-remix.mp3

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Microsoft has once again approached Yahoo!

Microsoft has once again approached Yahoo!, asking the Sunnyvale based search portal and content destination to come to the table and negotiate a friendly takeover by Microsoft.

The same report values Yahoo! at $50 billion; the interest by Microsoft is said to be serious to the point that world renowned bankers Goldman Sachs are advising Microsoft on the deal.

If the deal comes to fruition, the takeover would be one of the largest corporate takeovers in American corporate history, and likely the largest ever in the Tech sector.

It’s also interesting to observe the continued attempts by the any one but Google crowds’ attempts to win marketshare, from Ask’s bizarre viral marketing efforts (The Algorithm advertises above urinals), country specific deals such as Testra’s tie up with Microsoft’s NineMSN destination in Australia, to even this story now. It certainly is a strange time when Microsoft accuses Google of anti-competitive behavior one day, then actively seeks to acquire a leading competitor for the sole purpose of trying to compete with the Mountain View based uber company the next.

The market is taking the NY Post report seriously with Yahoo! stock up 18% at the time of writing and increasing on volume of 90m after only 20 minutes of trading compared to the 3 month daily trading average of 23m. The continued rise in Yahoo’s share price can naturally be tracked at Yahoo!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Inspiration to blog

Sometimes blogging takes a little inspiration...

http://www.bbspot.com/comics/PC-Weenies/2007/11/3128.php

Note: This is not the type of post you should aspire to... I just couldn't resist.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Online Snooping Gets Creepy...

Here's a Time.com article that made me remember our conversation last class...

When Nazira Sacasa sent me a press release for a new clothing boutique late last month, she didn't know that I would launch a full-scale web search to learn everything I could about her. But I needed a victim to test out the new breed of people-search services on the web, and a paid publicity seeker seemed like fair game. And so, after just a few minutes of clicking around, I had found Sacasa's MySpace page, her age, home address and what appears to be quite a lot of information about her family in Florida — all without using Google or any other popular search site.

As recently as six months ago, online snooping was mostly done surreptitiously or under the polite guise of "social networking." Now all subtlety has been cast aside. An estimated 30% of all Web searches are aimed at finding people, according to industry statistics, and upstarts like PeekYou, Pipl, Spock, and Wink are vying for a piece of this potentially huge market. These free sites work by scouring the Web for any virtual footprints you might have on MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Yahoo!, Flickr and elsewhere, and then creating a fresh profile that organizes all that information on one page. Even Whitepages.com recently expanded its phone listings to include business addresses and other contact information culled from all sorts of mail-order marketing lists and business directories.

What makes these sites controversial is that they gather all this information without your permission. The resulting profiles can be embarrassing or simply wrong. And getting those profiles removed or changed can be impossible. While some sites say they will honor your request to have your profile deleted, they steer you toward "claiming" your profile and making corrections to it instead. Even then, you have limited control over the content and the way it is presented. (TIME.com got Sacasa's permission to mention the results of our search on her before posting this story.)

One of the most popular people search sites today is ZoomInfo, which in June got 824,000 unique visitors in the U.S., according to comScore Media Metrix. Focused on business profiles, it currently has 37 million of them posted online, which it culls using its own natural language search technology. Inaccuracies abound, as I learned firsthand when I checked my own profile and saw that everything from my telephone number to my full name were flat out wrong. "We're the first to admit that they are not 100% accurate," says ZoomInfo COO Bryan Burdick, who estimates that only 500,0000 — just 1% — of the profiles have been verified by the person they claim to identify. (To remove your profile, email your request and a link to your profile to remove@zoominfo.com.)

The newest people search site to launch is Spock, which received $7 million in venture capital financing last December, and came out with its invitation-only beta version on Aug. 8. Aside from trolling the big social networks to populate its database, it also searches blogs, Yahoo! profiles, Wikipedia, and company sites to identify both you and other "related" people. (It lists Al Pacino, for example, as being related to Matt Damon and George Clooney.) To improve accuracy, the site lets users vote on all the information it has teased out in tags, such as "male", "Italian-American", "actor" and so on. If it turns out that you are Irish-American, and not Italian-American, for example, your friends (and even strangers) can weigh in and have the offending tag removed. And while anyone can "claim" their existing profile and make corrections, the Spock community gets the final vote on whether the information and links you provide are accurate.

Want to opt out? If politely asking to have your listing removed doesn't work, don't expect a lawsuit to help much either. According to Daniel Solove, a George Washington University law professor and author of the book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy On the Internet, it's difficult to argue that these sites are either defamatory or a breach of privacy since the information is publicly available on the Internet. "It's very problematic, but it's also very difficult to solve," he says. "On the one hand you have freedom of speech, and on the other you have privacy. Both involve people's freedom."

Solove does question the sites' viability, however. "If these things are highly inaccurate, what's the business model?" says Solove. While advertising revenue for online search as a whole reached $17 billion in 2006, almost none of it comes from searching for ordinary people. (When I type "Nazira Sacasa" or my own name in Google, for example, no ads pop up.) "It's challenging to construct a business model that does not generate revenue," notes Internet analyst David Card of Jupiter Research. Spock aims to get around this problem by offering broader people-search offerings on celebrities, people in the news and general categories like plumbers or singles. Meanwhile, ZoomInfo is selling a premium version of its service to recruiters and businesses. It might help if they got their facts straight first.


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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Maghound

Looks like the magazine industry is finally trying to modernize itself. They're developing a Netflix-like system where a user can subscribe to some number of magazines on a monthly basis - no need to commit to a year at a time. It's being developed by Time Inc. and seems to have been in the works for some time - I wonder when it's finally going to come out. Do you think this will help in getting more people to subscribe to more magazines?

Maghound

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Google Doubleclick to be investigated in the EU

Following on the conversation about Google and Doubleclick, the deal is being investigated by the EU competition authorities. A deadline of April 2008 has been put on the investigation so more to follow.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7093379.stm

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Interactive advertising and the need for independence from Google/Yahoo/Microsoft

According to an article on paidcontent.org, everyone expected Microsoft to win its bid to buy interactive ad agency 24/7 Real Media. Microsoft would want something in its portfolio to compete with Google's acquisition and assimilation of DoubleClick's know-how.

Instead, 24/7 chose to merge with major ad agency WPP.

Why? WPP and 24/7 combined are now the largest purchasers of search marketing across Yahoo, Google and Microsoft. Advertisers like the fact that they're dealing with a 3rd party intermediary, rather than giving their ad dollars directly to the YGM triumvirate.

link to article here:

http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-interview-david-moore-ceo-24-7-real-media-buying-innovation-is-a-must-t/


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Craigslist & Test Copy

There's a great article in Thursday's (Nov 15th) NY Times that highlights the mass of awful wastes on space on the internet. The article shows how many aspiring writers are creating supposed ads on Craigslist that are actually attempts at funny and satirical columns. The Times uses an example of someone pretending to be looking for a new boyfriend called 'Roy.' The 'seller' currently has a tattoo that says Roy due to having had a boyfriend of the same name, and rather than getting rid of the tattoo, would like to find a replacement boyfriend.

I'm all for satirical writing, but why waste our time putting it places that people aren't looking for it? Grrrrr

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/15/fashion/15craigs.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

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The Race to Critical Mass in the Fashion World...

You know you've reached the tipping point when something tech related becomes big news in the slow to move fashion world! So the fact that Womens Wear Daily had a large article yesterday entitled "What's Next for Fashion Networks?" made me think it was time to jump on the bandwagon! This whole internet thing might really be catching on ;) In all seriousness, it raised a couple of interesting questions: what can fashion sites offer beyond online shopping? Is there room for a niche, fashion-based social networking site (like the one MySpace has created, which in my opinion will never succeed because fashionistas would never be caught dead on MySpace - only A Small World for those ladies)? In our voyeuristic society, where every day people are willing to take the time to post and critique outfits in front of thousands of strangers, is there a way to reach critical mass and can it be monetized? As we've discussed in class, perhaps the most promising aspect of this model, if someone can do it right, is the targeted database of information that could be created on users, which would be incredibly valuable to retailers and fashion companies looking to make that incremental dollar...

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Warner Music Group Praises iTunes

Warner Music Group chairman and CEO, Edgar Bronfman, said recently that the iTunes store is "digital music done right" and admitted that fighting consumer demand for digital music fueled illegal downloading. Great timing as I think this week's guest speaker is from Warner Music.

See the Wired article below:

http://blog.wired.com/business/2007/11/hell-freezes-ov.html

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Monday, November 12, 2007

OMG!!!! We can end Global Warming!!!!

Look at this:
http://www.google.com/trends?q=free+movies%2C+global+warming

Notice how as more people download free movies (spikes up in blue line), Global Warming decreases (dips in the red line).

Go spread the word!!!!!

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Speaking of buzz words...

What exactly does Wed 2.0 mean anyway?

I find it interesting that we add a slew of new tech words to the Oxford English dictionary every year, words that just slip into our everyday vocabulary without us really being conscious of when or how exactly we adopted them.

According to Wikipedia: "Web 2.0 refers to a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services — such as social-networking sites, wikis, and folksonomies — which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing between users."

I love that "wikis" is included in their formal definition. Also, considering origin, Web 2.0 is generally attributed to Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media in 2004 when the company held their first "Web 2.0 Conference". The conference also presented what they thought would be the major themes of Web 2.0 as follows:
And finally, a few other most recent tech-related additions to the OED, although none have made the cut yet in spellcheck:
  • Infobahn (noun)
  • technopreneur (noun)
  • tighty-whities (noun)
  • virtualize (verb)
  • undelete (verb)

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Web 2.0 and Ethics

http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30100-1290719,00.html

Very interesting ramifications for web 2.0

There have been several high-profile cases in which users in Second Life were found to have been creating or exchanging child pornography. This includes both real-life photographs and virtual recreations of pornographic scenes involving children, which are illegal in certain countries (including Germany) due to the corrupting effect of the material, even if no actual child was involved.
Although this problem could occur on any internet site which allowed material to be freely uploaded, it is notable on Second Life because of its substantial size, centralized hosting model, opportunities for private transactions, and strong support for content crossover. Second Life is quite deliberately designed to ensure that content, especially avatar-related content, can be mixed and matched: almost any content can be combined with any other, and restrictions cannot be easily imposed on this, not even by the content creators. Thus there is no way to prevent a paedophile purchasing a child avatar and having it run a sexual animation, other than removing child avatars and/or sexual animations from the world entirely and denying them to players who wish to play sexual activity with adult avatars, or who wish to innocently role-play children or child-like characters. The problem is compounded by the full customizability of Second Life avatars; it is easy to create an avatar which has the height and stature of an adult but appears child-like with regard to body development, or vice versa, and a person's belief regarding the age their avatar appears to be may not match other people's.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Facebook to fight The Law?

According to the NYTimes and a Michigan State law professor, it's possible that the recently announced advertising method may be illegal in New York. Showing users pictures of their friends who liked advertiser's products conflicts with a 100 year old New York law:

any person whose name, portrait, picture, or voice is used within this state for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade without the written consent first obtained

Seems pretty straightforward to me. Either Facebook will have to add a paragraph to the terms of service or they'll have to spend some of that Microsoft money in Albany.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Open vs. Closed Source Economy

The recent post on Google’s “Android” mobile phone project shows that open-source software, and by extension characteristics of the new Web 2.0 economy (harnessing collective intelligence, end of the software release cycle) are becoming the norm. What does this development mean for the economics of mobile phone companies? Which is better for consumers – open or closed-source?

A couple of articles I found comparing closed- and open-source environments reveal that there are advantages and disadvantages to both:

Proprietary Technology:

Revenue model: built on artificial scarcity – companies release upgrades and people buy them

Competitive Advantage: based on barriers to entry: the market leader attempts to keep its products at least one step ahead of the competition by adding new versions and features. Results in a less flexible product which can be bloated with too many features. Is this advantage sustainable?

Pluses:

+ clean product releases (driven by deadlines/market expectations)

+ good product documentation (for an example, see Apple’s IPod troubleshooting site)

Minuses:

- company reliance on future sales means that the corporation is always focused on the upgrades, older products may become neglected

- incompatibility

Open-source Technology:

Revenue model: based on what customers can be persuaded to pay. Open-source vendors can also charge for installation and support, or sell complements to the open-source software (i.e. mobile handsets). Open-source vendors also enjoy greatly-reduced development costs by spreading these costs among all who are contributing to the product.

Competitive Advantage: low barriers to entry, but arguably able to reach a bigger market due to greater compatibility. Is this advantage sustainable?

Pluses:

+ an open-source vendor is liberated from the requirement to re-invent product in the name of product differentiation. Development is more organic and consumer needs-driven

+ releasing source code spreads development costs

+ better compatibility

- lack of centralized support/documentation/assistance

- lack of innovation incentives

In my opinion, as long as the particular market (software, mobile technology, etc. is growing), there’s space in the markets for both variations. If we look at computer software vendors, we have Microsoft as the market leader for proprietary software and Linux as the leader for open-source SW. With web browsers, we have Microsoft IE as the proprietary leader and Mozilla Firefox as the open-source leader. Apple’s IPod and ITunes leads the proprietary market for mp3 devices.

Will Google’s new venture and the Web 2.0 phenomenon turn consumer preferences towards all open-source products? I’m curious to hear your thoughts!

References to the articles:

1. http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/software/soa/Open-source-vs-proprietary-Both-have-advantages/0,130061733,139148762,00.htm

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_open_source_and_closed_source


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Personal Finance site from Dow Jones and IAC...

FiLife (www.filife.com), a joint-venture between Dow Jones Consumer Media Group and IAC, subtly debuted over the summer, with a full site launch coming later this year. Basically, it's a blog with finance "experts" that write about money and personal finance-related topics with a young and hip voice. I do like the tone of the writing and find many of the posts relevant and interesting.

Given the recent breaking up of IAC, it should be interesting to see what happens with FiLife.

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AOL is buying an ad serving company

AOL is buying the ad serving company Quigo for $340M in order to become more competitive against Yahoo and Google. With Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick and Microsoft's acquisition of aQuantive, the Mergers & Acquisition market for ad technology companies is currently hot.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Relevance.

There are many buzz words you hear in business school - beta, competitive advantage, scale, synergistic cost efficiencies. You get the picture! Relevance is often among those overused words, as most brands see relevance as the proverbial pot of gold, and yet many will argue that it is the hardest objective to achieve. There are entire jobs built around ensuring a brand remains relevant in the eyes of its consumers because if it doesn't, its sales will suffer and a private equity company flush with cash will look to buy low and sell high. Adding to this challenge is the fact that we've reached the age of fast, cheap information so consumers are more knowledgeable and have more options than ever before. So what is a brand to do? How can a brand stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant when consumers are more demanding then ever? This article gives a few examples of how properly utilizing proprietary customer data from website usage can help in this more sophisticated and challenging retail environment.

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Get paid to blog!

I just learned about a website that pays people to blog (payperpost.com) on their own websites. In order to get paid, you need to blog about a topic from a given list and submit it for approval. If your post is approved, you'll get paid via PayPal. It seems like you can actually make a good amount of money - up to $235 per post.

I think this is an interesting concept. It's a new way for companies to enter viral marketing and will help in SEO from the links within the blogs.

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And so the post microsoft decline of facebook begins...

So facebook just announced a new way to create marketing revenues. The basic jist is that consumers, based on their profiles, will be contacted by branded companies and asked to promote the brand among their friends. It sounds like most marketers are pretty excited about this and are comparing the ingenuity of it to that of adwords, when it was first released.

My own gut tells me that this may work initially and that some people will feel honoured Americans take note of the correct way to spell this word) to have been selected as a 'social networking hub/leader/influencer' and will probably start encouraging their friends as designed. However, as soon as people start to feel like branding tools, they will rail against what's going on. Additionally, formerly 'cool' friends may quickly turn into 'spammer buds' that are to be avoided at all costs. Then people will see facebook as not being a safe online environment anymore and will feel tracked and monitored too much. What will they do? They'll leave and go wherever is next.

If you want to read more about this, there's a decent enough article on adsense

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