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Google Checkout launched today. Previously known by Google-watchers as GBuy, the long-awaited and much-buzzed payment processing system offering shoppers with a Google account a quick way to pay for things. Here's the official post from the Google blog.

Some are calling it Amazon's worst nightmare. Forrester thinks it supports its core search business.

TechCrunch notes:
The system offers low transaction costs for merchants and mediation between buyers and sellers online in exchange for access to what will be a huge amount of data about shopping and sales conversions. There doesn’t appear to be many benefits for buyers in the system.
Here's the promo video:

More later. In the meantime, see Techmeme for massive buzz and conversation on the topic.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Ford gets bold

Ford has invited a film crew into the company and has granted them
access to document the changes going on inside the organization. The
results of their filming are being shown on a new web site called, you
guessed it, Ford Bold Moves.

“It will allow people to see inside a corporate turnaround,” said Martin Collins, executive director of marketing at Ford.

If any company is in need of a shake-up, it's Ford. At home and abroad, the company is struggling to survive and is currently in the midst of a massive turnaround effort to reshape itself to compete in the 21st century. With a goal to return to profitablilty by 2008, it seems that Ford's EVP and auto industry rock star Mark Fields may actually believe that it is time to "change or die."

The site is clean, simple, and straightforward. The execution is very very slick. Behind the lens are the filmmakers’ who made Metallica's award-winning documentary “Some Kind of Monster” and the Sundance series “Iconoclast.” Indie journalist Jonny Leahan is the Managing Editor of and is giving the site a straight-forward tone and voice:
It’s no secret that Ford is at a crossroads, and the century-old company is facing some of the toughest challenges in its history. Having both participated in and covered the documentary film scene for the past decade, I have heard countless tales of horror from filmmakers who try to follow important stories like these, only to encounter so many roadblocks along the way that the project has to be scrapped. Ford, however, has chosen to pull back the curtain at this critical time, allowing a film crew to capture the behind-the-scenes drama as an iconic American company struggles to right its path.
The first episode is called "Change or Die".

Online, most consider GM to be the innovator in the auto space. Among other efforts, GM's FastLane blog is a bonified success, and the Chevy Apprentice site, which let folks remix Tahoe ads was pretty cute and equally as controversial. Despite catching a lot of flack from the ad media and bloggers as well as some subversive results, GM stood behind the Tahoe site. Ford's project, it seems, looks like an even bigger step towards corporate transparancy and consumer involvement.

I am naturally sceptical of these things, but I must admit to being impressed by the tone, look and feel of this campaign. Sure, its slick. It is "produced" and has a soundtrack. (I'm still waiting for Kelly Clarkson to chime in. Uggh.) You're not going to find this made by kids on YouTube, but that's not the point. This is not some pet project of Ford's web evangelist. It is 2.0 marketing being done by a major company at the highest level of the organization.

Is it risky? sure. A bold move. You bet.

If anything, it is a fantastic example of a brand living up to its strapline. Those who were so quick to critisize "Bold Moves" should consider revising their initial opinions.

If I were working at Ford, I'd feel pretty good about this campaign. HR must be very happy, as internal stakeholders are benefiting.

And me? Well, for all the crap I've been giving Martin Sorell lately, I should point out that JWT (a WPP company) created the campaign. There is undoubtedly a queue of people in at their NYC and Detroit shops waiting to work on this.

Nothing is perfect, and this campaign is no exception. Why isn't this project being promoted on the homepage or any other sub-sites? Why would Ford rely only on WOM to drive traffic to the project? Is this a blogosphere-only event? Or, can't they coordinate/integrate their online efforts well enough?

The biggest issue, however, is the Ford brand, a name that remains its own worst enemy. When you say "Ford," people think Ford, Lincoln Mercury. They don't associate it with brands like Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston Martin. And that's a problem that no documentary can solve.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     2  comments

The people formerly known as the audience

Great stuff from Jay Rosen:
The people formerly known as the audience are those who were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern, with high entry fees and a few firms competing to speak very loudly while the rest of the population listened in isolation from one another— and who today are not in a situation like that at all.
  • Once it was your radio station, broadcasting on your frequency. Now that brilliant invention, podcasting, gives radio to us. And we have found more uses for it than you did.
  • Shooting, editing and distributing video once belonged to you, Big Media. Only you could afford to reach a TV audience built in your own image. Now video is coming into the user’s hands, and audience-building by former members of the audience is alive and well on the Web.
  • You were once (exclusively) the editors of the news, choosing what ran on the front page. Now we can edit the news, and our choices send items to our own front pages.
  • A highly centralized media system had connected people “up” to big social agencies and centers of power but not “across” to each other. Now the horizontal flow, citizen-to-citizen, is as real and consequential as the vertical one.
The people formerly known as the audience are simply the public made realer, less fictional, more able, less predictable. You should welcome that, media people. But whether you do or not we want you to know we’re here.

He references mainstream moguls including Mark Thompson, Rupert Murdoch, Tom Glocer, Tom Curley, who echo Dave Winer's thoughts from 1994.

Better late than never.

He talks about others who still don't get it and points out the fallacy of those who continue to refer to the public as merely "eyeballs." Fact is, for every Mark Thompson there are thousands of dinosaurs.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments


For those of you scoring it at home:

Agile, forward-thinking mid-size agency: 2
Old-school dinosaur agency: 0

Modernista started with Hummer and has now won the Cadillac account, which has been handled by Leo Burnett since 1936.

GM drives $200m Cadillac account out of Leo Burnett, reports Brand Republic.
General Motors has taken its estimated $200m (£110m) Cadillac account out of Leo Burnett in the US after 70 years and moved it into Modernista, an independent ad agency in Boston.

Jim Moore, president of Leo Burnett Detroit, said that the agency regrets the loss of the business saying that it was "a major piece of business".
"Regrets the loss." Now that's a nice strapline for Leo Burnett.

Links: G.M. to Switch Ad Agency for Cadillac (NYTimes), Modernista! Adds $140 Mil. Business From Cadillac (Adweek), Cadillac Leaves Burnett Agency (brandweek), General Motors Names Modernista! (Trading Markets), Burnett eats Cadillac's dust (Chicago Sun-Times), Publicis Groupe reportedly loses $225 million GM account (MarketWatch)

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

The Art of the Start Video

If you are an entrepreneur or just like smart people, watching the video from Guy Kawasaki's TiECon speech will be the best 40 minutes you will spend today.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Digg this!

In honour of the launch of Digg 3.0, I've added DiggIt! and links in the footer of my posts along with the permalink and comments. So, if you see something you like, click on those nice new icons and promote it!

Digg 3.0 looks good and must have caught Jason and the Netscape beta a bit off guard. Arrington has some first thoughts on Digg 3.0, in case you're curious.

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Monday, June 26, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Sorrell's latest is a socialist salvo

Fresh from casting digital doubt on the new media industry, WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell is making headlines again, this time warning of an e-communities ‘threat’. Emiko Terazono has the story in the FT, quoting Sorrell as follows:
How do you deal with socialistic anarchists?

The internet is the most socialistic force you’ve ever seen.
In 2006, the CEO of WPP thinks that 1) the internet is a socialist tool and 2) Craig Newmark is a social anarchist. Think about that. It is incredible, isn't it? On behalf of the non-dinosauric population, please allow me to disagree. The internet is one of the (if not the) greatest experiments in democracy and free market economics in the history of the world.

But don't take it from me. Richard Edelman (Sir Martin, Tear Down That Wall) is equally as shocked, while Jarvis goes on to discuss the adman and the ice age.

Read between Sorrell's lines a bit - something I am finding increasingly useful with his speeches - and it is easy to see that Sorrell's biggest fears is not what is happening to advertisers. While an arms-lenght partner with Google at the moment, Sorrell is terrified of what will happen when the joga bonita of search allows advertisers to buy and plan their own media campaigns ... without going through agencies.
We are Google’s third-largest customer, but on the other hand they are talking about an electronic media buying and planning exchange.
Edelman chimes in:
Ah, now we get to the bottom line, Sir Martin. The dirty little secret for ad agencies (and hence their holding company owners) is that the real money these days is made in media planning and buying, a model jeopardized by Google and by the dispersion of media which disrupts advertising price points.
If the media buying business is disintermediated by the likes of Google and the creative leadership continues to decline, what will be left for WPPs of the world?

In the comments section of Jarvis' post, "Mike G" writes:
When I was at Leo Burnett in the mid-90s we joked that Leo’s slogan “We will make the best creative in the business, bar none” had been changed to “We will PLACE the best creative in the business, bar none.” That pretty much sums up the shift in priorities at the big boys, Sorrell’s empire included.
Peter Preston in The Observer suggest that we beware false prophets of the internet age:
Make no mistake, says Sorrell, the 'legacy businesses', the ones with heavy plant, heavy staffing, heavy weights of history on their shoulders, are in trouble. They can never move quickly enough: they are bound to be out-thought and outfought.

Keeping your balance also means keeping calm - for the wisdom of Sorrell wanders around many mansions. Five years ago he told a Yale audience that 'the world is being Americanised'. But that was before he saw India. And, three weeks ago, he said that new media would 'almost certainly' not supplant existing ones.
And then there's this:
For aren't J Walter Thompson and Ogilvy and Mather, historic names from the WPP collection, legacy businesses, too? And what precisely are advertising agencies and their great media-buying adjuncts for any longer? The legacy newspaper distribution business, under OFT pressure, is currently being asked whether driving diesel-fuming lorries along motorways in the middle of the night is the best way of getting millions of surplus copies to recycling dumps 24 hours later. You could ask much the same question about advertising agencies.
Ouch. Well, Sorrell is right about one thing: They're not ready.

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Monday, June 26, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

BloggerCon Podcasts

Missed BloggerCon? Here are the podcasts from each session.

Day 1
National Anthem (Dave Winer)
Tools (Phil Torrone)
Citizen Journalism (Jay Rosen)
Users In Charge (Chris Pirillo)
Standards for Users (Niall Kennedy)
Emotional Life (Lisa Williams)
Post-game show (Doc Searls)

Day 2
Half-time show (Dave Winer)
Making Money (John Palfrey)
Building Bridges (Elisa Camahort)
2008 Politics (Lance Knobel)
Video Blogging (Ryanne Hodson)
Core Values (Mike Arrington)
Fat Man Sings (Dave Winer)

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Monday, June 26, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Dead flowers on advertising's grave

It has been a nice week for introspection by the regal elite of the UK's ad agency bosses. Perhaps taking his cue from WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell (see: We're not ready), Lord Saatchi (of M&C Saatchi) writes about the strange death of modern advertising in today's FT.
Sometimes I feel as though I am standing at the graveside of a well-loved friend called advertising.

At the age of only 50, advertising was cut down in its prime. Advertising holding companies used to boast about their share of the advertising market. Now they are proud of how much of their business is not in advertising. How did this happen?
He goes on to reference digital natives and digital immigrants, which Marc Prensky and others have been writing about for quite some time.
This, apparently, is what makes it possible for a modern teenager, in the 30 seconds of a normal television commercial, to take a telephone call, send a text, receive a photograph, play a game, download a music track, read a magazine and watch commercials at x6 speed. They call it "CPA": continuous partial attention. The result: day-after recall scores for television advertisements have collapsed, from 35 per cent in the 1960s to 10 per cent today.
I love the term, "continuous partial attention," just in case you were wondering. He continues:

Pick a brand. Any brand.

Now, think of what you are trying to say. Can you precisely describe, in one word, the particular value, the characteristic, the emotion, you are trying to make your own?

If it runs to a sentence, you have a problem. A paragraph? Sell your shares.

Why? Because nowadays only brutally simple ideas get through. They travel lighter, they travel faster.
I'm not so sure I agree with this 100% ... I agree that easily understood brand identities are a good thing, however Lord Saatchi's opinion is a bit extreme and perhaps misguided. Even online, there are plenty examples of successful "long-format" communications. Viral ads and videos are long, and lots of people watch them. Some sites take a lot of time to go through to get to the point, yet people do if it is worth it. Even some blog posts, like this one, go on seemingly forever, yet people read them. You are reading it, right? Is it really just a question of simplicity and speed?

Couldn't the problem be due to a general decline of creativity in advertising, especially in large shops?

Let's face it, for every brilliant Sony Bravia or Guiness spot, there are 1000 pieces of crap creative shovelled down the throat of the modern consumer. Is it any surprise that people have learned how to quickly tune those messages out in favour of other, more interesting things to do? Why sit through a uninteresting ad when you can either fast forward through it with your PVR, or in those same 30 seconds text a friend, delete 12,000 pieces of spam, make a million friends on MySpace, or any of a number of other more worthwhile things.

It isn't about simplicity and speed as Lord Saatchi suggests. It is about value and choice.

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I still watch ads. But now, I only watch the good ones. Advertising isn't dead. Not by a mile. Creative that sucks is dead, and that's a good thing. Mick sums it up nicely:
And you can send me dead flowers every morning.
Send me dead flowers by the mail.
Send me dead flowers to my wedding.
And I wont forget to put roses on your grave.
Have a great weekend,

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Friday, June 23, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Cyber Lions Grand Prix

Brand Republic has the story: A spoof viral ad created by Dave Droga's agency droga5 for clothing company Ecko, in which a graffiti artist tags President Bush's Air Force One, has shared the Cyber Lions Grand Prix prize with Crispin Porter & Bogusky's "Unpimp My Ride" campaign for the VW GTI.

Here are the other 2 GTI ads: Jason, Tre

Strange, I think, that Brand Republic reports on these cool, award-winning campaigns but doesn't bother to link to the brands, agencies, viral sites, or videos that they talk about. They never do. Why not?

Since they won't, I will:

Brands: Ecko, Adidas (advertiser of the year)
Agencies: droga5, CPB
Viral site:
Cyber Lions offcial site

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Friday, June 23, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Lists Lists Lists

Here's one thing that many bloggers and journalists can agree on: "A list goes a long way further than a carefully assembled article, and
the former takes half the editing time of the latter." That quote from Vallywag, which goes on to cite CNN Money Mag's 50 People Who Matter, is spot on.

There are too many lists and not enough thought.

For example, I'd rather experience-based insight than best-of lists from Guy Kawasaki. He's certainly been around the block a few times and could share so much more than Casey Kasem inspired blogging. Why does he relegate his experiences into lists all the time? I'd much rather opinion and analysis. Jarvis goes overboard now and again, and Umair has a penchant for diatribe, but between those two and Guy's seemingly never-ending stream of top 10 lists, I'll take the former any day.

We need less lists and more thinking and analysis.

A notable exception to this rule is Pitchfork's list of 100 Awesome Music Videos. If content is king and the medium is the message, they've combined the two pretty well. Just goes to show that there are very few had and fast rules in the blogosphere.

Links: How to write an A-list (Valleywag), 10 People who don't matter (Business 2.0)

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Friday, June 23, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     3  comments

Sorrell says: We're not ready

In a Brand Republic interview while attending a Newspaper Society conference, Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of the WPP Group, said that advertisers and agencies are failing to deal with the shift in consumer behaviour towards the digital model, saying that, even though WPP achieved 15% of its revenues from the burgeoning online sector, there was much more to achieve from online.

Between you and me, 15% of total revenue from online ain't too shabby for a big lumbering giant like WPP. Says a lot about the shift in spending.
Are we primed to cope with the growth of the presence of online? Probably not. I don't any traditional business has embraced the growth and presence of online, and that refers to agencies as well. I don't think that clients have embraced it properly, I don't think that media owners have embraced it, and I don't think agencies have.
Well, that's better than denial and doubt.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Scoop: Bebo hires Shaa Wasmund as UK MD

Social networking powerhouse Bebo has has hired veteran marketer, entrepreneur and digital expert Sháá Wasmund as the Managing Director of their UK operations.

Following on the heels of the $15M round of funding led by Benchmark Capital Europe, Bebo UK will be incubated at Benchmark's London office while searching for their own space.

I've met with Sháá many times, and I think that this is a fantastic fit. She's an American but has been in the UK since age 10. She has the energy of a US executive, the sensibility and style of a European, and the accent of a true Brit. It is an interesting combination.

A graduate of The London School of Economics, Sháá set up her first business in 1995, and her work on creating the Dyson brand with James Dyson won her numerous awards including PR of the Year, Campaign of The Year and the Cosmopolitan Business Woman of the Year.

In December 2000, Sháá raised substantial funding to create, a a UK internet magazine for teen girls, backed by BSkyB and Freeserve which became profitable within 14 months.

Rumor has it that at the moment, she is finishing work on a new TV show for Channel 4 and will start work full-time for Bebo in early July.

Barry Maloney led the Bebo round for Benchmark and sits on their board. I'm sure that Bebo will benefit greatly from his expertise and contacts. Plus, Benchmark can keep an eye on things from close range rather than having to rely on reports from the mother ship back in California. A win-win situation for all involved.

With 88% of 18-34 in IRE, 25M users overall, and 100M impressions/day, Bebo is the market leader in the UK and Ireland. The launch of new vertical services (the first rumored to be Music) are imminent. More on Bebo's stats here and here.

Update: Game on: MySpace announces the same
MySpace targets European expansion (Guardian Unlimited)
MySpace has hired David Fischer as its first managing director for the UK and Europe as the social networking site gears up for further international expansion ...
MySpace targets international expansion (FT)
European Expansion For MySpace (WebProNews)
MySpace to hit Europe (
MySpace hires David Fischer as managing director (Brand Republic)

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     1  comments

Adele Bloch-Bauer I

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Carol Vogel reports on the the most expensive painting ever sold: $135 Millon paid by the cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder for Gustav Klimt's portrait of "Adele Bloch-Bauer I."

It is a wonderful portrait and one of the artist's finest. A true masterpiece. K and I often went to The Belvedere (which will never be the same without it) and other galleries in Vienna to see works by Klimt. From early landscapes to his finest portraits, his paintings are spectacular. Even fine scans do not do them justice. We saw the portrait of "Adele Bloch-Bauer I," and it does not disappoint. The work will now hang in the Neue Galerie in Manhattan, so if you're in NYC, don't miss it.

The winding tale of the ownership, restitution and sale of this masterpiece is a fascinating story and is indicative of the wave of ongoing restitution-related disputes, negotiations and sales in the marketplace for art.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Today's Reading

Here's some of what caught my attention today:

Umair's latest: It is this shared culture that is commoditizing media - not simply technology or the erosion of entry barriers. Shared culture is what makes the economic difference - it is what drives the superior attention economics of markets, networks, and communities - at least on the consumer side (whereas, on the supply side, the game is about achieving discontinuous productivity/efficiency gains a la AdWords).

Scott on The New Cybersquatters: Okay, this domainer thing is getting out of hand.  Now the former CEO of research firm IDC is heading up a startup called NameMedia that just came out of stealth and owns 650,000 Internet domain names.  A domainer is a company that owns a lot of URLs and populates them with search ads.  When someone types in the URL instead of going to a search engine (perhaps because they think the URL box on their browsers is the search box), they go directly to one of these fake sites.

And the Bubblegeneration follow-up: In Scott's examples, entrepreneurs are finding ways to arbitrage Google itself: they are exploiting the fact that PageRank's expected value of attention and AdSense's financial value of attention are out of sync ... It is the expected value of attention of consumers which PageRank is supposed to, somewhat accurately, compute. But as long as there's no real competition in search (and let's be honest - there really isn't), Google can keep shifting the costs of this arbitrage on to consumers.

Wetpaint reviewd by TechCrunch: Seattle based Wetpaint has been in private beta since March.  On Sunday night they launched to the world, allowing anyone to create a free wiki on any topic.  —  A good example wiki is this one around the XBOX 360.  Like pbwiki, Wikia and JotSpot …

Marketplace Economy: RockYou, a popular tool for putting slideshows on MySpace, Friendster, Hi5 and Xanga, has taken $1.5 million in a round led by Sequoia Capital. The Palo Alto-based company is a great example of a lightweight 2.0 play: you can import images from your Photobucket account or MySpace profile and create a widget to post on any social networking site (see also Feeding the MySpace Beast).

Imbee (via Mashable) which launched last night, is a kid-friendly social network that aims to offer a safer alternative to MySpace, Bebo and Tagworld . The network was created by San Francisco-based Industrious Kid, which announced a $6 million funding round in March. Imbee is closed to non-members and the site offers various account types - a free account, a 90-day trial and a full account ($3.95 per month or $39.95 per year). The paid account gives users access to the blogging tools. It’s an interesting dynamic: kids can only network with people they know, and virtually every change must be approved by the parent.

MommyBuzz  (also via Mashable), which launched last week, is a new social network for moms. Users can create profiles, post photos, join clubs, write blog entries and create classified ads.

The Bobosphere: AdAge reporter Bob Garfield has a new blog. He's using it to write a book and vent on topics where he can't come up with 600 words. Welcome to the blogosphere, Bob.

Ze Frank is thinking so you don't have to ...

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments launches

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My good friend, tech master, pseudo geek, ex-gamer and all-around nice guy Edi Senn has launched Using a very functional design, you'll find news, galleries and other fun stuff.

Edi did the backend and CMS for my photo site. An incredible job, especially if you consider that he did a lot of it himself and had to put up with me while we were working on it.

Monday, June 19, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Fun facts for Fred

I just posted a comment over on Fred's blog, and I decided to reprint some of the facts here:
  • MySpace: 75M users, 30B impressions/month, $1M/day homepage revenue, $500M paid by Fox
  • Bebo: 88% of 18-34 in IRE, 25M users, 100M impressions/day
  • Cyworld: 20M daily users ... in South Korea
  • Gusto: $4M VC, emerging "editorially enhanced" vertical network
  • Boompa: $30K to build, 2 guys, 2 months
  • Hi5: 40M users, India, the subcontinent and beyond
  • Faceparty: 4M users, micro ecommerce-enabled
  • Xuoa: 1M users, "gamer" interface for social interaction
That's just the tip, and the list is growing. Strong vertical players are emerging, and so are walled garden networks offering more privacy and selectivity. And while the big boys are still strong (MySpace, Bebo, etc.), they are at risk of becoming out of fashion - especially with teens like Jason's daughter - as parents, The New York Times and others "expose" them. Kids are fickle, and once something jumps the shark, they'll move on - especially if there is little to no switching cost.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

And in other news ...

Folgers: Happy Mornings

I think this is a viral ad for the Folgers Coffee site: It is one of the strangest things I've seen in quite some time. The team from Saatchi & Saatchi must have been on crack.

Have a great weekend,

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, New York
Executive Creative Director: Tony Granger
Creative Director: Jan Jacobs/Leo Premutico
Copywriter: Jan Jacob
Art Director: Leo Premutico
Executive Producer: Sheldon J. Levy
Production Company & City: The Sweet Shop
Director: Steve Ayson
Producer: Cindy Kavanagh
DOP: : Jac Fitzgerald
Editor & Company: Jack Hutchings @ TVNZ, Auckland
Colourist: Dave Gibson @ Digital Post, Auckland
Post Production/Visucl Effects & City: Puck Murphy @ Perceptual Engineering, Auckland
Music and Music Publisher (Composer or Original soundtrack): Michael Weiner and Allan Zachary based in Los Angeles
Audio Post Company: Sound Lounge: New York, NY
Mix engineer: Phillip Loeb

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Friday, June 16, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     1  comments


The number of news stories about MySpace and other social networks coming out every day is not slowing down. If anything, there are more of them. Like weeds, almost. Makes you want some roundup, right? In the absense of pesticide, here are some links:

Social Networking: Five Sites You Need to Know
Blue Devil Tar Heel PhD student Fred Stutzman (sorry about that, Fred) takes a gamers approach to breaking down the value-add and direction of some A-list (Bebo, Cyworld, Hi5) and B-list (Faceparty, XuQa) SN sites. Worth a read. The rest of his blog ain't bad, either. Best quote:
Social networking for the sake of social networking just doesn't cut it. Put simply, we want more from SNS-enabled sites than association. If we're going to invest our time into a SNS site, make it worth our while. Make it a game, make it entertaining, make it useful - but don't expect us to come if you think its enough to browse our friends profiles.
Stowe Boyde agrees with Fred, btw.
Content-free, networking-for-the-sake-of-networking is a pointless exercise, now that we have gotten over the novelty of fooling with these sites. He seems to miss the intensely geolocal aspect of social networks: people naturally network with others that a close to them, physically. And he misses OpenBC, which is a big sucess in Germany and Western Europe. While I think he is dead on re: micropayment, he only touches on social commerce lightly, which is the big bang of our socialized future.

Social networks will become the centerpoint of online commerce. I state this unequivocally. The revolution will be socialized: in the future, essentially all online consumer commerce will be conducted through social means. The Web 1.0 metaphor of wandering around in a warehouse, putting gear into a shopping cart and then heading for a checkout counter, that shopworn motif will be replaced by various social metaphors.

Social networks--future portal or fad?
Over on, they're talking to investors at the Piper Jaffray Global Internet Summit to see if they think if SN companies are "next-generation portals, or merely flash-in-the-pan communities that will eventually fade from popularity like one-time high-fliers Geocities or AOL."

The answer is: They're not next-generation portals, and some of them will be flashes-in-the-pan. Portals? Those poor VCs. They must be so confused when 2 guys can build a cool network on a shoestring budget in 2 months that actually might work. How much is that worth compared to a site like Gusto? (See below.) How much should they try to invest? Facebook and MySpace won't say if they're even profitable, but the former has turned down at least two buyouts, and MySpace sold for $500M.

By the way, if you visit CNET, don't miss The Big Picture. If they could add conversations in the blogosphere that are part of the big picture, it would be even better. But I digress ...

Gusto Finalizes $4 Million in VC
What does a guy who built and sold a travel company for $47M do in the age of social networs? Build a social networking travel site, of course. Gusto is "a new community-based travel site that connects travelers with each other and with relevant travel information." The best part is that instead of using all his own cash, Jeff Wasson, Gusto's CEO, got 3 of the 4 $million from venture group DHST. Bravo.

So, which is it? On the cheap, like Boompa, or with millions of VC, like Gusto? Boompa will rely on what looks to be purely user-generated content, while Gusto will use their financing "to expand our marketing and editorial development initiatives." In other words, Gusto will edit and write a lot of the stuff themselves. Hmmm.

Over on Publishing 2.0, Scott Karp writes about how MySpace is the most expensive data mining project ever. He concludes, "For the sake of their shareholders, I hope News Corp has a plan to turn all that MySpace 'data' into dollars."

Finally, following up on an earlier post (and now on a bit of a tangent) Valleywag sees Nine signs that the new Netscape sucks. Read/Write web isn't too impressed, either. Yes, they will have big numbers thanks to AOL, but sidebars and framed content? Common Jason, you've got to be kidding.

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Friday, June 16, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     3  comments

The New Netscape

Check this out:

Some call it a Massive “Digg Killer”. Others call it a cheap knock-off. One thing is for sure and true to his word and the rumors, Jason is at it again.

Articles: New York TimesGuardian Unlimited, TechCrunch, PaidContent, BetaNews, CNET, Red Herring, and AP News

Commentary and discussion: Micro Persuasion, Web 2.0 Explorer, ResourceShelfBlogging Stocks, Things That, the LOOSE wire blog,, AMCP Tech Blog, Blogging Stocks, Mike Davidson, Virtual Economics, Business Filter, Digital Inspiration, Kevin Maney and Screenwerk ... Many others here.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Connecting the Corporate Dots

New article form Knowledge@Wharton exploring how Social Networks Reveal How Employees and Companies Operate:
With the recent disclosure of wiretapping by the National Security Agency and the booming success of sites like MySpace and Friendster, social networking is much in the news today. But serious interest in social networks can also be found among academics, consultants and corporations seeking to deepen their knowledge of how companies operate. While organizations have been aware of the power of social networks for some time now, researchers at Wharton note that mapping these connections can yield some potent insights, such as how board members interact within and among companies, and how employee relationships can be better understood to improve productivity and the dissemination of ideas.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

E-mail is, like, so yesterday

Sites like MySpace offering "instant" social scene, fast messaging attract young users, study shows. Check out Teens turn away from e-mail over on the Murcury News.
When she gets home from school, 14-year-old Jennica Paho of San Jose switches on the computer and goes to ``It's very exciting to get new pictures, comments and new friend requests'' on the social networking site, she said.

What she doesn't do is check or send e-mail.

New statistics show that, for the first time, teen e-mail use is dropping -- apparently in favor of more "instant'' alternatives.

Since February, teen e-mail use nationwide has been dropping compared with a year earlier. In April, it was down 8 percent -- 11.8 million users compared with 12.8 million users in April 2005, according to comScore Media Metrix. Even though the average time spent online by teens increased 11.6 percent from April 2005, to 22.5 hours a month, time on Web mail declined 9 percent.

By contrast, general e-mail users are increasing, growing 6 percent in April over a year earlier.

Even instant messaging, while popular, is slowing, comScore's surveys show. Total IM users increased only 1 percent, while the number of teen users declined 8 percent -- in part, some experts say, because of the rise of MySpace, which allows users to send comments and messages to each other.

During the same period, MySpace users multiplied from 3 million to 7.8 million.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

It’s all about the click

After reading this piece on no-longer-stealth NameMedia, Scott Carb thinks that Google Is Killing the Economics of Content:
When Seth Jayson at Motley Fool suggested the other day that Google’s AdSense is killing the internet by driving the creation of sites that exist solely to squeeze money from AdSense, many people scoffed.

Pay-per-click advertising is destroying the economics of content, making it more profitable to create entire sites with nothing but ads.

“Direct navigation” is a euphemism for navigating around content and right to ads.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Highfield Defends Spend

Speaking at the Culture Media and Sport committee's fourth evidence session on the new media inquiry at the House of Commons, BBC new media chief Ashley Highfield defended the BBC's current £73m spend on its services and commented on projects and related spending out to 2013.

The current spend equates to 3% of the licence fee, around £4 a year or 33p a month. He likened the projected 2013 cost of online operations to "one music download" a month for every liscence fee payer.

According to the MediaGuardian, Highfield mentioned "the development of a greatly expanded range of products and services that the BBC is aiming to push through including the BBC iPlayer, a site focussed on user-generated content and Creative Archive, which allows members of the public access to content that they can use for non-commercial purposes - that commercial rivals have argued will crush market competition."

Some of those intrerviewed by the MediaGuardian were not so enthusiastic:
The BBC's new media strategy came in for heavy criticism from a number of bodies - the committee was attended by the UK Association of Online Publishers, the British Internet Publishers Alliance, the Newspaper Society, the Satellite & Cable Broadcasters Group and the Digital Content Forum - who are concerned that its actions threaten their commercial operations.

"Sky has the power of life and death over us. The BBC just has the power of death," said Fred Perkins, former chairman of the Digital Content Forum and founder and chief executive of
Highfield and others (including BBC director of strategy, Caroline Thomson) further defended the BBC's efforts:
There is a feeling that the BBC has a gameplan of a predatory approach and this is not true, said Highfield. We are aware of issues and are not a standalone gatekeeper ... we must be more porous.
The full article is worht a read. If a report is issued, it will be posted here, and the formal meeting minutes will be posted sooner or later.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

The Fall Of Content's Kingdom

Spotted this over on Paid Content:
A white paper by Alexander Cameron of Digital TX in London, about piracy, the failure of the music and movie industry to address customer demand, and how the ages of net neutrality and the big boys controlling the content industry are about to come to their end.

This below will tell you the tone of it: “A lot of the content industry’s problems come from insularity, and it’s a lot easier to see that when you’re on the outside, as many ISPs are. Theirs is an exclusive club, massively reinforced and defended from outside influence. These are high-profile businesses with incredible popular products that see them fielding off requests from everywhere, all day long. Their cynicism has become institutional. They simply have too much business and can’t get involved in it all. They have got into a habit of closing the door to new people, ideas and new business. The only way in is to know someone who can make an introduction. It’s particularly bad in the US and the UK, the latter run exclusively on “who you know” as its modus operandi.”
The Fall Of Content's Kingdom (pdf)
The sequel to the hugely popular "Great Content Adventure" that was quoted all over the world, this detailed paper looks at piracy, the failure of the music and movie industry to address customer demand, and how the ages of net neutrality and the big boys controlling the content industry are about to come to their end.

PS: Happy 4th Birthday, Rafat! Well done.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

TechCrunch on MySpace

Arrington on The 27.4 Billion Pound Gorilla, and the conversation in the comments is pretty heavy, too. Lots of good debate about the meaning behind the numbers. Danny Sullivan weighs in on the search numbers, and several people break down the page view and click factory that is MySpace.

Funny thing is, none of this is news, per-se. All of this has been reported on over the past few months, ever since Paul Kedrosky summarized the key October 2005 MySpace metrics from a BusinessWeek article late last year.
MySpace has 75 million users (see somewhat dated comparison stats here), 15 million daily unique logins, is growing by a massive 240,000 new users per day, and is generating nearly 30 billion monthly page views (that’s 10,593 page views per second). The number of page views generated by each unique visitor is stunning - clearly these users are very, very passionate about the site, and it’s unclear if they do much else on the web besides hang out on MySpace.

MySpace hasn’t overtaken Yahoo yet in terms of page views (see UBS Comscore Analysis PDF here), but they are a solid second and are ahead of giants like MSN-Microsoft, Time Warner (including AOL), eBay, Google and Facebook.
MySpace also has the sixth largest market share among search engines, even though they aren’t, actually, a search engine.
Others point to the revenue figures being floated around, including Ad Age's report on 1 million $ per day for the homepage and CNN's MySpace to bring about 350 millions dollars in revenue this year.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Picture This

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Visualizing the Social Network shows how blogs are the glue that holds social media together. (Full size image here.) It is a nice, clean, simple representation. Scott's suggestion to use Gladwell's connectors, mavens, and salespeople patterns as an overlay on the diagram is a good one.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     4  comments

Why Ronaldinho Has No Last Name

Nick Schultz looks at How Brazilian soccer players get their names. If you don't feel like reading, download the podcast.
Seventeen of the 23 players on Brazil's current World Cup roster go by a single name. Players with the same first name often change their moniker to differentiate themselves. In recent decades, there have been several Ronaldos at the national level. One became known as Ronaldao, meaning "big Ronaldo." Another became Ronaldinho, meaning "little Ronaldo." When another Ronaldinho came along in the late 1990s, he was called Ronaldinho Gaucho—that is, "little Ronaldo from Rio Grande do Sul." Eventually, the first Ronaldo left the Brazilian national squad, so Ronaldinho became Ronaldo. Ronaldinho Gaucho became Ronaldinho.
Maybe that's what Team USA needs. After playing like a bunch of uninspired amateurs against the Czech Republic, they should give it a try.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

File under: Entreprenurial must-read Launch Postmortem, Part 1:
Research, Picking a Team, Office Space and Money
This is a story about how 2 enterprising web developers quit their jobs at CNET Networks and built an enterprise level community driven site ( complete with all the modern "web 2.0" bells and whistles in almost exactly two months on the smallest possible budget with open source software. It covers the planning, technology, accounting and business decisions we made along the way and is meant to be an honest portrayal of the realities of opening up your own shop and what you will need to do.

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Monday, June 12, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

MySpace launches Careers,
NYTimes launches Attack

Michael Arrington's TechCrunch (happy first birthday) reports on the launch of MySpace Careers on Sunday Night:
The investment that Simply Hired took from Fox Interactive seems to be paying dividends already. Tonight at 9 pm PST MySpace, a subsidiary of Fox Interactive, will unveil MySpace Careers, a new job site on MySpace powered by Simply Hired. This is interesting news mostly because of the massive traffic that the MySpace home page drives - and the new site has a link on that Myspace home page. No word on the deal terms, although I assume there is a revenue split based on the numerous advertisements MySpace is including on the new site.

Deals like this show the positive impact a corporate investor can have on a startup. Note that competitor Indeed took an investment from the New York Times last year, and they partially power the NYT online jobs search engine.

Earlier on Sunday, but also worht noting is the irony (competitve bashing?) that was in the NYTimes:
College career counselors and other experts say, some recruiters are looking up applicants on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Xanga and Friendster, where college students often post risqué or teasing photographs and provocative comments about drinking, recreational drug use and sexual exploits in what some mistakenly believe is relative privacy.
The article (For Some, Online Persona Undermines a Résumé) continues:
Concerns have already been raised about these and other Internet sites, including their potential misuse by stalkers and students exposing their own misbehavior, for example by posting photographs of hazing by college sports teams. Add to the list of unintended consequences the new hurdles for the job search.
In their defense, it is pretty good reporting on a growing trend among recruiters. All I am saying is that in this world of complicated multi-level investments being made by media companies, it is getting harder for even the NYTimes to keep themselves impartial and non-biased. Or, is it fair and balanced? I forgot?

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Monday, June 12, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Marketplace Economy

Following on my post on the emerging MySpace Economy, here is some fresh evidence of the trend via Google. I'm coining Marketplace Economy as the catch-all for this trend, and I'll be tagging posts with it moving forward.

Markus, who claims that any idiot can make millions off Google, is the sole employee of, one of the largest websites in the world and the largest dating site in Canada. His dating site is 100% free to use, and his only source of revenue is from AdSense.

He just got a check for $901,733.84 from Google for what he claims is for 2 months work. The photo of the check is from his blog.

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Friday, June 09, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     1  comments

And in other news ...

The Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments

What happens when you combine 200 liters of Diet Coke and over 500 Mentos mints? It's amazing and completely insane. The first part of this video demonstrates a simple geyser, and the second part shows just how extreme it can get. Over one hundred jets of soda fly into the air in less than three minutes. It's a hysterical and spectacular mint-powered version of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas, brought to you by the mad scientists at

Have a great weekend,

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Friday, June 09, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Enter MySpace

eBay is more than a brand, It is a marketplace. So is Google. So, to some extent, is iPod. Need proof? Entire businesses are being set up around these marketplaces. They are creating their own economies. In the auction space, examples include US-based iSold it, Germany's dropshop and the UK's newly funded Auctioning4u. Google's list is too long to mention. Just think: AdSense. iPod is becomming a cottege industry.

Now, enter MySpace.

Pete Cashmore writes:

DatingAnyone helps you track the dating status of people on your MySpace friends list, and presumably catch them on the rebound. When there’s a change in your friend’s status, you’re sent an email alert. The service doesn’t log in as you - it simply sends out a bot to grab the status info from the profile pages.

Surprisingly, DatingAnyone isn’t the only player in this space - a more lightweight service called does exactly the same thing. However, charges a one-time fee of $3.95 for notifications, while DatingAnyone is free. On a similar note, newly-launched Stalkerati lets you search for a person’s name across multiple services - social networks, blogs and image search.

This isn’t feeding the MySpace beast - it’s more like leeching off it. But these services all add value, so hopefully MySpace won’t feel the need to throttle them or (worse still) build an in-house version.

Steve calls it The MySpace Economy, and I like it.

The chart below (from ComScore's report on Technorati's traffic) shows the "meteoric rise" of the blog search aggregator. The equally meteoric rise of MySpace is what is fueling Technorati's growth.

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This symbiotic economic situation is both good and bad. Good, because both businesses are obviously doing very well. Bad, because as an early user of Technorati, I can tell you that it ain't what it used to be. I was wondering what slowed down their indexing and has made their results less interesting. Once again, enter MySpace.

Here is Arrington's write-up on Business Opportunity interviews dev and entrepreneur Jackson Miller about Ed Kohler discusses and

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Thursday, June 08, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

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Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world.  - Arnold Newman

The idea of environmental portraiture, a style which Newman popularized, has always facinated me. His photographs are biographical. You know something about the subject, just by looking. They are beautiful works of art. His is an intuitive style which requires a directorial flare in order to create mise en scène. Seemingly, Newman also had the blind trust of his subjects, something not easily accomplished in portrait photography.

If you are looking for his work, the PDN Legends Online is a fantastic place to start. The Wikipedia has a nice entry with plenty of links. is ok. Google images, when all else fails.

His obituraty in the Times is here. He was 88.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

MySpace Homepage Pushes the $Million Mark

As Social Media Sites Start Snagging Big-Name Marketers, the MySpace homepage is approaching $1M in daily revenue and Bolt is back in the spotlight. Susan must be happy.

Deal details are from Rafat, since the AdAge site was down.
MySpace's ad latest deals include Walt Disney Co. and Pepsi-Cola, pushing the daily value of its home page inches toward $ 1 million. Meanwhile, Bolt, which has been revived with the social networking “boom” after being around for a long time, has signed three big-name brands to sponsor highly interactive microsites through the summer. Pages for Toyota Motor Sales USA and Procter & Gamble Co. are expected shortly, while Wendy’s got a head start last week with a site, which has already drawn more than 365,000 page views.
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Internet Tail Wags Dinosaur's Dog

Two studies out today adding more evidence to the growing power of the internet when compared with other media.

First, the NYTimes writes about the report out by the NAA: Online Newspaper Ads Gaining Ground on Print.
According to estimates released on Friday by the Newspaper Association of America, newspaper print ad spending in the first three months of 2006 increased only 0.3 percent, to $10.5 billion, over the corresponding period last year. At the same time, spending for online advertising surged 35 percent.
Some in the newspaper biz are catching on:
"I think this industry is in for exceptional long-term growth from online revenue," said Jason E. Klein, the president and chief executive of the Newspaper National Network, a marketing partnership of advertisers and newspapers. Much of the current growth is coming in the technology and automotive categories, he said.
Some, well, you decide:
One hope for online newspaper classifieds is the control their staffs can exercise over the content, unlike free sites like Craigslist, which are mostly managed and edited by anonymous users.

"I think newspapers will attempt to differentiate their classified products as authentic, reviewed and updated regularly," Mr. Bennett said. "It's a much more authentic database.
Authentic? The best argument that the president and chief executive of the Newspaper National Network can come up with is that their ads are authentic? Along side the quaility ads, have you seen the crap in the classifieds sections of most newspapers? They're no better or worse than Craigslist.

The second is from the Online Publishers Association (OPA), who announced the results of a new research project, "A Day in the Life: An Ethnographic Study of Media Consumption." Here are a couple key lines:

The results show that the Web is now clearly a mass media -- ranking right alongside other major media when it comes to reach and duration of use. And when it comes to at-work media use, the study found that the Web clearly dominates (with 54.6% reach, compared to television's 21.1%), and is the only medium that ranks among the top two at both work and home.

The research found that the Web increased the reach of television by a remarkable 51 percent in the morning, 39 percent in the middle of the day, and 42 percent in the afternoon. With magazine advertising, the impact is even greater -- the Web more than doubles the reach of magazines.

Web users tend to have greater buying power than television users.
For more, visit the OPA.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Etsy: Social Shopping

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Fred posted about Union Square Venture's investment in Etsy.
We have not found anything in the online commerce area that has interested us until earlier this year when we met Rob Kalin and his co-founders. Last July they launched Etsy to serve the needs of artists who wanted a place to sell their handmade goods.

In the past 10 months, Etsy has grown by word of mouth to over 10,000 artists selling their handmade goods to over 40,000 buyers. Today, there are over 100,000 listings on Etsy, every single one of them handmade and available for sale. And over 70,000 items have been sold on Etsy at a sell-through rate that beats eBay.
The funds will be used to allow Etsy to launch the redesigned service, hire a few people, and keep growing. Other investors include Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield (Flickr) as well as Joshua Schachter and Albert Wenger (Delicious) who all have been advising Rob Kalin.

What scares me is that I mentioned the site to my wife.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Eyes Open

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The latest from Snow Patrol is a britpop summer sensation in the making. The sound is unique and the hooks are strong, especially on the single "You're All I Have" ... "It's so clear now that you are all that I have, I have no fear now you are all that I have." Not sure how it will stand up against Final Straw and When It's Over, but so far so good.

Links: Official Site; MySpace; LastFM; Amazon; iTunes

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Netflix to Offer New School Media Lessons

So, if the NYTimes thinks that Hollywood can learn from Netflix, does that mean that TV Guide can learn from Cozmo TV?

Best dinosaur quote from the NYT article:
The problem is that the studios have sold the exclusive digital rights for most movies (which don't apply to physical DVD's) to a television channel, like HBO. The agreements last for years and, since they bring in millions of dollars, the studios aren't about to stop signing them.

So what's saving Netflix - allowing it to thrive when the technology to obliterate it already exists - is yet another attempt by Hollywood to hold onto a fading business model. Remember, this is the industry that filed lawsuits in the 1970's to prevent people from watching movies at home.
Class dismissed.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Cory Doctorow Visits a Radio Shack

Scene: A strip mall Radio Shack with a single Radio Shack Employee standing behind the sales counter. Cory Doctrow enters. Sound effect: electronic doorbell goes “Dooo-weee!”

Cory Doctrow: Hmmph. I certainly hope that doorbell isn’t keeping private records of who enters and exits the store.

Employee: Um, I’m fairly sure it doesn’t. What can I help you with today? RCA cables, perhaps?

Cory Doctrow: No, thank you, I’m actually here to purchase a cell phone ... continued.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Sir Sorrell's School of Digital Doubt

In a Times article today, Sir Martin Sorrell gave what he called a lesson from the past for digital doubters. He compares the advent of digital advertising to the rise of TV in the 50's - in terms of the novelty of the new medium, the scepticism and difficulty that traditional agencies and advertisers had in coming to grips with using it, the initial approaches to using it for marketing, and a view on the future.

He is not the first to do this, as many (myself included) have used this comparison to help businesses understand the impact digital is having on traditional marketing. I feel the article's title, however, is incredibly misleading as the piece does more to reassure traditional media and advertisers than it does to clear up any doubts about digital.

If you correlate the points Sir Sorrell makes about TV to new media as he intends ("Although parallels with digital are far from perfect, there’s real value to be gained from looking back ... In advertising and in the newspaper world, some of these responses are to be seen in the emergence of the new technologies."), you end up with more doubts than when you started Sir Sorrell's lesson.

While my inner geek opposed it, I defended traditional agencies recently when Brian asked if big agencies can compete. I don't do Jarvis-esque or Umair-inspired critiques too often, and I'm certainly not much for fisking, but this one deserves it:

Sir Sorrell: In advertising and in the newspaper world, some of these responses are to be seen in the emergence of the new technologies. Again, it’s proved hard for traditional organisations, comfortable with established techniques, to embrace the new. Again, this hasn’t been simple bloody-mindedness.

GN: Translation: Like TV, the advertising industry completely missed the opportunity to capitalize on the advent of digital.

Sir Sorrell: The new technologies seemed difficult to master, were largely unproven and showed little sign of being profitable.

GN: Translation: In the late 80s and 90s, WPP never bothered read (or did not take seriously) research from their own companies that showed, conclusively, that the internet was a fantastic media for not only commerce but for branding, and that digital revenues would grow at a phenomenal pace.

Sir Sorrell: And, of course, in the early years, television in the UK enjoyed nothing like national coverage, which made it of doubtful (and totally unproven) value to national advertisers.

GN: I guess we can skip this comparison, as I doubt even the most sceptical of traditional marketer would venture to claim that the internet was not seen as a global medium very early on.

Sir Sorrell: Personal confidence was low: senior agency people found themselves ill-equipped to recommend the television medium or even to debate it with clients.

GN: Translation: On the whole, senior management at traditional agencies is ill-equipped to recommend or even to debate digital strategy with clients.

Sir Sorrell: Their output, by and large, was technique-driven; if something was technically possible, it was used, whether or not it made marketing sense. There was a lot of animation and singing. Jingles reigned.

GN: Translation: Like TV in its formative years, digital advertising today is done by start-up hacks who don't understand marketing. Like their TV predecessors, they rely on technology, not marketing techniques. Flash, Ajax, and social networks are the jingles of the 21st century.

Sir Sorrell: Those who did embrace the new technologies with most enthusiasm tended to be those for whom the digital age and the internet were of absorbing interest in themselves; so again, basic principles of good advertising sometimes took second place to addiction to technique. There was an age gap, a knowledge gap and a vocabulary gap. Two quite different languages were spoken and there were few who were truly bilingual.

GN: Translation: Early digital agencies were run by mostly young professionals who knew nothing about marketing or advertising. Now I'm with him on the young part ... Yes, many of us were young when we started working online. How old was David Ogilvy when he started? Leo Burnett? John Orr Young? Raymond Rubicam? Walter Landor? Heck, Sir Sorrell was only 32 when he became group finance director at Saatchi & Saatchi and just over 40 when he founded WPP. Despite their collective youth, I'd argue that they knew a lot about marketing or advertising. Fact is, most of the people I've worked with have had significant experience as well as MBA's or other advanced degrees.

And what is with this "addiction to technique?" He mentions it more than once. The implication is that new media agencies only care about code and know nothing about marketing. This is a complete fallacy. A new medium requires new techniques and languages. Translating (a word he uses often) work from one medium to the next won't cut it. People don't want to watch 30" spots online. They want to create and/or share them.

Sir Sorrell: Other agencies did their best to absorb the new medium into existing account groups - but were hampered by simple ignorance.

GN: Ignorance in the account groups? On the client-side? Hard to tell who is being put down.

Sir Sorrell: Existing, traditional businesses will continue to develop digital expertise. It will take time, because it clearly takes longer to effect change in a big, established company heavily dependent on the success of its traditional business for the foreseeable future. Start-ups — the digital-only specialists — will continue to develop their advertising expertise. The language barrier will gradually be lowered and interpreters will thrive.

GN: Translation: Our clients will continue to move very slowly towards digital, and we're in no hurry either. TV is a cash cow, and we're fine with that and will keep milking it for as long as possible. Start-ups will continue to take market share from large shops. Note: Anyone out there interested in hiring an interpreter should feel free to contact me.

Sir Sorrell: Furthermore - and here the parallel with the advent of commercial television falters - it seems entirely probable that the internet will permanently reduce the profitability of traditional businesses run on traditional lines.

GN: Translation: Newspapers are dead. Others may follow.

Sir Sorrell: There will be constant competition between old and new. Slowly, the new media will cease to be thought of as new media; they will simply be additional channels of communication.

GN: Translation: Digital is going to keep getting bigger. Much bigger.

Sir Sorrell: And like all media that were once new media but are now just media, they’ll earn a well-deserved place in the media repertoire, perhaps through reverse takeovers — but will almost certainly displace none.

GN: Translation: WPP will spend a lot more on acquisitions. WPP will prevail, even if it means buying every last one of them.

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Monday, June 05, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     1  comments

Sunday Fun

Took me a while, but figuring out the Petals Around the Rose is fun.
  • The name of the game is Petals Around the Rose.
  • The name of the game is important.
  • The answer is always zero or an even number.
Good luck. Looks like Bill Gates had fun with it as well.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Playing with the Most Bonito

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If you're catching cup fever like everone in the world outside the US, the latest edition of Play Magazine from the NYTimes is worth a read. Most Bonito kicks things off:
Poised for what could be their country's finest performance since the Pelé show of 1970, Ronaldinho and the Brazilians hope to prove that beauty and soccer are one and the same.
Other articles, like Inside the Playbooks which has good diagrams and descriptions from coaches and players, and the funny, albeit awkwardly formatted for the web World Cup Fact-O-Rama 2006 are also worth a peek.

Speaking of being outside the US ...

Play magazine's launch completely passed me by. Since I can't get the Sunday NYTimes in London, I had no idea it existed until I saw the World Cup feature story on the site today. Can't understand how I missed it - I don't remember getting an email from them - and it seems that few in the blogosphere made much mention of it outside of Big & Sharp:
A few months ago it was announced that Mark Bryant, the former editor of Outside, was heading up a new magazine for the New York Times, Play.

Play, as the New York Post once reported, is aiming for the larger sports pub market, as in Sports Illustrated (3.3 million circ) and ESPN: The Magazine (1.7 million circ), the two dominant titles in sports magazines today.
There's a passing mention of Play in Bill Keller's announcement of Jim Schachter becoming deputy editor for magazine development under Gerry Marzorati. (From Gawker.) Otherwise not much else. Strange, no?

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Sunday, June 04, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

And in other news ...

More great video in anticipation of the start of the World Cup.

The first is a brilliant ad for KitKat placing the candy bar on the pitch with the Russian linesman in the famous England vs West Germany World Cup Final in 1966.

The second is MTV's "The German" with Gunther. 'Nuff said.

Have a great weekend,

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Saturday, June 03, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

eBay dives deeper into the social networking pool

Over on MicroPersuasion, Steve Rubel breaks down an Auctionbytes report of eBay's decision to Launch Blogs, Wikis and Search Tags.

The report outlines how eBay will be introducing eBay Blogs, an eBay Community Wiki and other social networking tools to give sellers additional ways to market themselves.

Steve thinks it is a good move:
eBay Blogs will enable sellers to more efficiently market their products.

Working off the Auctionbytes story, I dug a little deeper and found more details including a tag/search platform. The eBay Blog help pages here and the wiki information pages here.

So if an eBay seller uses tags like "Pez", "dispensers" and "collectibles" they can increase their visibility in search results. All blogs will also support RSS.

I would not be surprised to see the company take this a step further and build eBay into a giant social network that lets like-minded buyers and sellers find each other.
Not all are convinced. David Binkowski, for example, is sceptical of the idea:
The biggest gripe from Ebay sellers has nothing to do with their items not turning up in a search or the ability (or lack thereof) to blog -- it's the rising price of their fees.

Additionally, a lot of sellers are already spending time taking photos, creating listings, doing their homework on price points, etc. -- What makes Ebay think they'll want to cut more time out of their day to blog?
I wonder what big eBay retailers like US-based iSold it, Germany's dropshop and the UK's newly funded Auctioning4u think about this. Given their volume, can they contribute in a meaningful way to the conversation on eBay? Is there a way that they can facilitate the publishing of information from their own customers? If so, they'd become powerful sources of auction-based conversations, recommendations and commerce.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     3  comments

Yahoo! Network Diagram

From the 2006 Information Architecture Summit:
How do you visualize one of the largest, most complex networks in existence? How does one represent the information, interaction and brand architecture for over 100 similar-yet-distinctive websites, applications and tools with varying degrees of integration? How much coffee would this require? Could this network diagram influence decisions about how the brand should be used?

The Yahoo! Network Diagram, in addition to the requirements mentioned above, includes traffic data such as top 5 referring URLs and countries of origin. It measures 3.5' high by 12' wide.
This is the direct link to the PDF file

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Thursday, June 01, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Can Big Agencies Compete?

In a great post on why your big agency won’t get social media, Brian Oberkirch builds on Mike Manuel’s short-but-sweet posts on ‘social media services and billing gaps‘ to make the case that large advertising, media buying or PR shops are not prepared to work in the networked world.

While Brian makes some excellent points, I think it is still way to early to count big agencies out. Most of you know that I'm more prone to point out dinosaurs than defend the old guard, so this might come as a surprise. But those who ignore their strenght do so at their own peril. Here are a few things large agencies have on their side:
  • Contacts: It might be an old-school paper Rolodex, but it is full of contacts and relationships.
  • Money: They've got the cash to aquire talented individuals ... or entire shops. Competition getting a bit too rough? Buy 'em.
  • TV: Social Networks are huge and internet advertising is booming, but TV is still a cash cow, and that's not going to change for quite some time. Brian says "the market for making elaborate :30 films and holding on to the expensive talent this archaic activity requires must be seeing strains," but I think Sorrell and co. would disagree.
  • Full service: It isn't just about the internet. Agencies which cannot deliver (or facilitate the delivery of) comprehensive, measurable, integrated campaigns across multiple platforms might as well hang it up. Big or small: They're dead.
  • Scale: Your blogging business might be great, but I doubt it can handle a company wth hundreds of products in 34 countries and languages. This is why big international agency networks exist.
My favourite point that Brian makes is the need for marketers to shift from creating content to creating conversations. On that, we agree completely:
These organizations are built to be in the content business. They exist to develop and distribute messages. In the world of social media, content isn’t king. Connection is king. We are all bringing our own share of content to the party now, and companies have to play a much different role in the coming conversations about their products and services. Communication people will come to be valued by how they improve conversations. Not start or manage them. Improve them. Plus them up.
He also bullets points the causes of a radical shift in outsourced communications services and gives some examples of "how ‘new’ media approaches from an advertising, media buying or PR shops involve shoe-horning some sort of branded message into a novel, tech-enabled channel."

He is critical of thier inability to keep pace:
In a YouTube world, speed, savvy and responsiveness of our communications (video included) will trump high-production values and the fantasy of a tightly integrated campaign.
That's a good point, but there is also the issue of how well agencies can produce integrated campaigns. As I am thinking about chocolate at the moment, here's a silly example:

In England, Kit Kit is marketing the bejeezuz out of their Golden Ticket campaign on Big Brother. They have ads running everywhere and their PR machine is working overtime to gain exposure. God knows how much this cost them. That said, you'd never know it if you checked the Kit Kat site. You have to go on Channel 4s site to read anything about it, and even there you can't discuss it with anyone. How is this possible? They've also launched a funny new ad for the World Cup, but it isn't on YouTube, Google Video or any of the other places you'd expect to find it. But I digress ...

If I've understood it right, Brian suggests that change will happen from the brand-side:
I think the tendency will be towards smarter communication directors and managers rolling their own teams to form ad hoc social media bomb squads, and outsourcing very specific ad creation skills (and not strategy & messaging) to ad shops.
I'm not so sure. That assumes that there is a brain trust on the brand side and corporate-level support for these new "bomb squads" to be created. For start-ups and a small (albeit growing) number of companies, this is a no-brainer. For most established brands and organizations - and surprisingly even some new generation brands I've come across - it is a foreign concept and will not be adopted as easily as Brian suggests.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

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