Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Second Life's Master Plan

So, most of us are in awe by the metaphysical implications of the metaverse being ushered in by Second Life. The current Fortune has a decent overview, but the real juice comes here at the end of the piece. Note, this also dovetails beautifully with tomorrow's upcoming discussion of open source:

"Linden has taken another radical step: It announced that the software that residents use to view and navigate Second Life would become available for anyone to examine and modify. The aim is to speed up improvements. Eventually Linden intends to reveal the code for every aspect of Second Life...In effect, Linden hopes to control the standards for virtual worlds so that they become the equivalent of the HTTP and HTML standards that define the web."

Here's the clincher:

""We can recreate Google's business in this environment," Rosedale says, not to mention Network Solutions' web-address registration business and Paypal's online-payments system."

That's some strategic thinking. I'd be curious to see Vegas' odds. If only Linden were public...


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Get a Social Life

Everyone wants a life (online), right? Well, Andrew Baio, co-founder of Upcoming.org, thought to get everyone looking for a life online and get them out the door to find a life away from their computer screens. His site compiles listings of coming events in various cities. Ahh, but how do you know who will be at these events? The answer to all our problesm: Social Networking. Users can post profiles, comments, photos, and network of friends can check each other's profiles out. Check it out.

The thing is, there are no shortages of these Mini-MySpaces out there. Sites like Ning.com (local-focused social network) threaten high school alumni reunion websites and other social networks. The question is, how many social networks can you be in before you start losing track of how social you are?

Sources include: WSJ, 1/29/07, "Mini-MySpaces"

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Fighting I tunes and the majors

Hi all,

There some David vs Goliath players around.
More websites now offer ways around majors and i tunes.
I had a bit of search: among the ones that offer subscriptions, like Rhapsody, a few French guys launched MusicMe.com. The user interface is really simple and they have a deep and large choice of independent music. Interestingly it partners with the largest French music retailers (Fnac), which is going to launch its subscription site soon. So we'll see how long the parnership lasts!

There a new site called SpiralFrog.com that offers ad-supported legal downloads from major catalogs and labels. The site be working very soon. Beyond the name, which I like, is tghe fact that accepting a bit of ad will strongly reduce prices. The point is that ad on spiralfrog will be restricted to a few seconds at the start or at the end of the music. They have customer research showing appetite for that model. We'll see.

Pierre

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Despite common belief 40 is NOT the new 30...

Just as I finish listening to several voice messages from my mother asking me to give her directions on how to take her cellphone off of the vibrate function, while I check for new emails upload pictures and reply to text messages all from my PDA phone, I see a new commercial on tv for the Jitterbug.

The Jitterbug is a new phone designed for the elderly and children. With technology becoming more and more advanced by the second, several people find it hard to keep up and apparently it's not just the elderly who are having a hard time. I came across a few articles on the web that show that a lot of new marketing campaigns for mobile technology will be geared towards those who are middle aged (30 to 40) to elderly.

Check out some of these links
http://www.moconews.net/entry/redbook-starting-a-mobile-marketing-campaign-for-older-consumers/

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/business/technology/16517076.htm?source=rss&channel=mercurynews_technology

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05227/554344.stm

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Advertisers held liable for unwanted adware

I'm not a fan of random ads.

We have all been annoyed by adware while surfing. Adware programs install themselves into your computer and periodically serve up ads while you're surfing the internet. Most of the time, you don't even realize that you've downloaded the adware.

Companies that have turned a blind eye to how their ads are delivered so far must now face the music:

Travelocity.com and Cingular Wireless have agreed, as part of a settlement, to deliver their online advertisements only through companies that fully describe their adware, that obtain customer consent to install it and that make it practical for consumers to remove those programs from their computers.

"Advertisers will now be held responsible when their ads end up on consumers' computers without full notice and consent," Mr. Cuomo said. "Advertisers can no longer insulate themselves from liability by turning a blind eye to how their advertisements are delivered, or by placing ads through intermediaries, such as media buyers."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117009967987591444.html


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Monday, January 29, 2007

If you have the time & money, check this out..

This is a great conference that is happening in New York City right now. The registration fees is a little too expensive ($1875). But please do click on the image above to find out info about the conference and know about companies participating in it.

DIY (Do-it-Yourself) Video Ads for Long Tail

While Google has democratized the advertising space for all kinds of advertisers, text ads aren't just enough. A video ad says a million words. Check out these two companies that help these small shops produce video ads of their own using templates and place them where they want to.

Spotrunner: www.spotrunner.com
Four Spots: www.fourspots.com

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

YouTube plans revenue share with users


In what I find to be a great expression of the kind of collaboration that Web2.0 represents, YouTube (by Google) has announced that they will share revenue with users.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Google Bomb


On 25th January, Google announce officially that they have an algorithm that correct / avoid the effect know as Google Bomb (see wikipedia). Playing with some flaws in the algorithm people was able to establish ways of changing the results. One of the most famous is the search for "miserable failure" that send you to the White House.

It is a new alteration of an algorithm that is getting a lot of criticism on Internet. What do you think about it?

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Poorly placed display ads

Continuing our conversation in class yesterday about when ad placements can really hurt a company.... check out these hilarious combinations of news stories and accompanying ads:

http://gawker.com/news/advertising/adventures-in-contextual-advertising-a-new-beginning-231660.php

http://gawker.com/news/advertising/return-of-the-son-of-still-even-more-further-adventures-in-contextual-advertising-229366.php

http://gawker.com/news/advertising/even-further-adventures-in-contextual-advertising-222310.php


I'm assuming these are cases of keywords automatically matching up the stories and ads. How could a company avoid such problems in the future?

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mashing NYC

A little commuting, a little mashing, a little google...

http://www.onnyturf.com/subway/

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Online Fraud

We all know that online revenue is going up and up and up, but what’s happening with online fraud? In 2006 revenue lost in online fraud was at an all-time high of $3 million, up from $2.8 million in 2005 and $1.5 million in 2000 in North America


The good news is the actual percent of online fraud seems to be going down. In 2006 1.4% of revenue was lost to online fraud, down from 1.6% in 2005, as reported today in emarketer.com http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?1004504&src=article2_home

What I had no idea was that e-merchants are rejecting about 4% of orders because of suspected fraud. However, since only about 1% is fraudulent, how much revenue is lost from rejecting real orders? More is being lost in cautious rejection than in actual fraud. What will be the next innovation to ensure merchants aren’t losing valid orders?

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Quite an interesting (and expected) Google development:

Google said it would distribute advertising alongside videos from Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group (NYSE:WMG - news) over its AdSense online ad system to Web site publishers in a four-week test now underway.

"Over the past few months, we have run tests to figure out how we work with our partners and advertisers to combine high quality video content with ads and then distribute them (over) the Google AdSense network," Google said in statement.
The test with the two music labels follows an earlier public trial of Google's video advertising system with Viacom's (NYSE:VIA - news) MTV Networks, which provided music videos to run on a select number of Web sites running Google ads.
As part of the test, advertisements would be billed on a cost per thousand impressions (CPM) model, the traditional billing method for mass market advertising as opposed to the pay-per-click billing model Google popularized with text ads.
Google has been pushing ahead in recent months to expand beyond its hugely successful text-advertising system into new advertising formats including video, radio and mobile phones.
As a example, Warner Music has defined multiple video channels along themes like "rock music" or featuring the "Divas of Pop Music." A Web site owner can select a video channel and embed it on a section of the site dedicated to running Google AdSense ads. Visitors then can click to watch ad-supported videos within the video channel on sites running the ads.
The Google advertising system splits the resulting revenue three ways to the video content owner, the Web site publisher and Google. The exact revenue splits were not disclosed.

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Netflix Reinvents the Wheel Again...I Guess...

So in the NYT technology section yesterday there was an announcement that Netflix will now offer real time streaming video for 1,000 selections on its playlist. Now when you go to browse their selections you have the option to either watch the movie or rent it. There are a few drawbacks as usual but it seems like the idea although not completely original will help Netflix once again become the reinventor of the wheel, web tech or whatever you'd like to consider it :)

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/25/technology/25pogue.html?ex=157680000&en=62b559b21ccb4544&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

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We have to post more video on our site NOW!!

Seems everyone is watching short-form video online and every company wants you to be doing it on their site. Lexus is going to be hosting a series covering architecture, art and other subjects that are presumably appealing to the cultured, well-to-do lot that will then click over and want to buy a Lexus.

Found the info in this AdWeek article:
http://www.adweek.com/aw/iq_interactive/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003536057

Lexus is a Toyota brand and they're coming up with an eco-friendly luxury car, so if you're going after the "early adopters" online video seems like the place to go. Still, I'm curious to see how they promote. I don't think many people are going to check out what the video on lexus.com is today, so I imagine they're going to try to get onto youtube? It will be interesting to see if they are willing to go a little edgy with content to get noticed in the flood of video out there.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mashup - Google, Craigslist etc.

Following our discussion about mashup last week, here is the mashup website that brings Google Maps and Craigslist together for apartment search.

http://www.housingmaps.com/

I ran into a whole bunch of mashup websites while looking for this one.

http://www.programmableweb.com/popular

Some of them are very creative, especially the one that is used to track Nintendo Wii in stores. A friend of mine used this to get his Wii during the holidays

Also, have you heard of GOOGLE BASE? This could become the next craigslist.
http://base.google.com

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Ok, honestly...

who has either a MySpace or a Friendster account? When the question was asked in class, I didn't see anyone raise their hand. I'll be brave and admit that I have both. Yes, its slightly embarrassing to be consorting in the same (virtual) social milieu as 12 year-olds, but then again, everyone I know is on there.

I'd be interested in looking at other social networking sites, ones not intended for 'tweens and not solely career focused. Any suggestions?

One that I recently found and really like is www.humblevoice.com, its a site for both visual and performing artists.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Facebook" at work

Looks like you'll see more people goofing off at work with IBM's new social networking software for Lotus.

From the WSJ: IBM unveiled social-networking software that works like Web sites such as Facebook but is safe enough for corporate use. At a meeting of its Lotus software customers Monday, IBM unveiled a suite of software products called Lotus Connections that includes software for posting personal profiles, Web logs, or blogs, and lists of Web bookmarks and will allow for creating online communities and online work collaboration.

The Connections suite will compete with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows SharePoint Services, a five-year-old product with 85 million users that added social-networking features in its latest version, unveiled in November. Peter O'Kelly, research director for collaboration with Burton Group who was briefed on the product plan, said "this is going to start the next chapter of competition between IBM and Microsoft for the hearts of information workers."

Steven Mills, IBM's senior vice president who heads the software group, said, "We've been pleasantly surprised by how well this has resonated with corporate buyers." He said many companies have seen employees start using free Web-based social-networking software because it makes it easy to share information with colleagues.

WSJ

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Get a First Life

With all the talk of Second Life and the hype that has ensued in the media, as well as our class discussions, one might begin to take this virtual world too seriously. I mean, real money being made? A Bigger economy than some countries?

And then, someone creates this:
http://www.getafirstlife.com/

My favorite quote:

"Go outside - membership is free!"

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A New Social Network - Based on Pictures?

Have you ever wondered if you could be connected to a social network based on your preferences for visuals? Imagini is attempting to dissect your Visual DNA which can ultimately help advertisers target certain clusters and also help you connect to others online who share similar interests as you. The Social Network is, of course, in it's Beta stage. Try it here

According to today's WSJ, looks like it's already being tested by clients such as MSN, Vodafone and British shopper-loyalty program, Nectar, "which has used Imagini's software to gauge reaction to ad campaigns and identify clusters of consumers."

Seeing that I'm a lazy guy and spurn marketing research questionnaires, this is a much easier way to let companies know who I am and what I like.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Scripps, the Long Tail, and Wall Street Love

AdAge has an interesting article discussing how old media company Scripps, which started in newspapers, has become the 16th most visited online property. Seeing the possibilities of the Long Tail is one main reason:

Scripps was also ahead of Wired Editor Chris Anderson's Long Tail theory, recognizing that it could slice its food, garden and home programming to appeal to niche audiences. But most importantly, Scripps encouraged a culture that was not afraid to embrace new media that were likely to cannibalize the lucrative properties it already owned.

Also important, however, seems to be a company culture that has for decades embraced new distribution:
Scripps early on embraced a multimedia approach, buying radio stations in the '30s, TV stations in the '40s and '50s, and cable systems in the '80s before becoming a cable programmer in the '90s. Today, Scripps' newspaper division represents just a fraction of the company's total revenue.

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Big Media’s Crush on Social Networking

New York Times
By RICHARD SIKLOS
Published: January 21, 2007
With a wink and a flirt, big media companies have developed a full-bore teenage crush on social networking businesses.

New York Times

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Google's Next Ad Frontier May Be VideoGames

From today's WSJ, Google is thinking about getting into the VideoGames advertisement market.

The Mountain View, Calif., company is in talks to acquire Adscape Media Inc., a closely held San Francisco company whose technology allows for the delivery of advertising over the Internet and placement within videogames, according to people familiar with the matter. They added that a deal could be reached as early as next week.

While the possible terms of a deal aren't known, Microsoft Corp. last year acquired Massive Inc., a company that delivers in-game ads, for close to $200 million.

An acquisition of Adscape, if completed, would allow Google to offer the hundreds of thousands of advertisers who currently buy online ads through its system to also buy ads that appear within videogames. The market for delivering ads into games -- such as a virtual billboard on a racetrack or a poster in a boxing arena -- is still in its infancy, but major games publishers such as Electronic Arts Inc. believe it could be a lucrative business and many are pursuing it aggressively. Sending ads over the Internet is just now becoming more feasible through new game consoles such as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360, which are designed to be connected to the Internet.

I don't know much about the videogame adv. industry but it has some characteristics that I believe are really interesting:
  1. Segmentation: the process of selecting the videogame to play is a process of auto-segmentation. Usually each game has a concrete and specific audience. That would be a great match for Google matching know-how.
  2. Size and evolution: the new consoles are bringing to this market (time ago just for hard core users) all new kind of players. First, he number of woman acquiring and playing with last generation consoles is growing incredible fast. Second, players are no longer someone in the range 14-25 years, they are located in the 14-40 years range.
I would argue too that videogamers should have a lot in common with Internet users where Google is actually king. It seems overall to be an interesting movement.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

How Yahoo Blew The Search Ad Space To Google

Here's a brisk "decline & fall" story of how Yahoo ceded the search advertising space to Google from yesterday's Wired.

A lot of interesting points:

1) Valuations look really funky in hindsight. Yahoo could have conceivably bought Google for $5bn in 2002. What would someone have needed to buy AOL five years earlier?

2) It's not what you got but what you figure out to do with it. The idea for pinning ads with searches seems to have only sprung up with GoTo in 2001, a good six years after Netscape's browser and at least half a dozen vaunted search engines. Google already had its technology by then. The Big Leap was moving beyond the "gee-whiz" factor and using the cool tech to place & sell ads, things that probably had never entered Google's head before then.

3) Even when the writing seems to be on the wall, most people don't see it. As late as Summer 2004, well after Google had come out with both its search engine and AdWords/Sense, well after Yahoo had already shown that it was having some serious engineering snafus, the Wall Street money was still on Yahoo.

4) Outdated tech can really screw you. Overture's scaling weaknesses reminded me a bit of Friendster's.

5) It never hurts to be user-friendly. It can be easy to underestimate the value of easily automated functions and friendly user interfaces. Plenty of people have similar tech, some may be superior to others. But it's usability that usually trumps. Hello YouTube, iPod, etc...

6) Lastly, the word of the day. It always warms my heart to see the word "clusterf*ck," fully spelled, in a magazine article.

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