Steve Rubel is not so sure and suggestes that people further down the executive foodchain might be better at it than the CEO.
I'm for it, if it is done right. In an age where transparencey will increasingly become a corporate asset, companies need to get talking, and who better than the folks at the top? That said, they'll need help and a plan. To go at it solo and without an idea of what you want to accomplish would be a waste of time and potentially dangerous.
By a 410-15 vote on Thursday ... a 410-15 vote ... the US House of Representatives approved the "Deleting Online Predators Act," a bill that would effectively require schools and public libraries to block the access to "chat rooms" and "social networking sites" to minors, or those institutions would lose their federal internet subsidies.
"Social networking sites such as MySpace and chat rooms have allowed sexual predators to sneak into homes and solicit kids," said Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican and co-founder of the Congressional Victim's Rights Caucus. "This bill requires schools and libraries to establish (important) protections."
DOPA has changed since an earlier version dated May 9. The version approved by the House (click here for PDF) does not define "chat rooms" and gives more leeway to the FCC in devising a category of verboten Web sites.
Both versions apply only to schools and libraries that accept federal funding, which the American Library Association estimates covers at least two-thirds of libraries. By slapping additional regulations on "e-rate" federal funding, DOPA effectively expands an earlier law called the Children's Internet Protection Act, which requires libraries to filter sexually explicit material and which the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional in 2003.
This is a wide-ranging, loosely worded piece of legislation, and in my opinion is much too broad in scope and risks giving the FCC an inordinate about of control over who can access what sites on the internet.
This, coming from a government who think that the internet is "not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes." That's a line from Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee - the Senate committee in charge of regulating the internet.
In case you need a good laugh having read this sad sad piece of news, the full text of Steven's speech is here. The full audio can be found here on a Public Knowledge blog. This is the Daily Show's segment on it.
Given the current Net Neutrality debate, COPE and now DOPA, we should all start thinking about where things are heading in terms of how the US is trying to regulate the internet.
Incredible. Naïve. Pathetic. Dangerous. Any others?
90 percent of South Koreans under the age of 20 are reported to be registered on CyWorld.
The US version of this very popular South Korean network launched today, and despite a few technical hiccups, it seems to be off to a decent start. Not sure what people will think of the relatively tame functionality, though. The design will certainly will appeal to a limited set of users, but I imagine that those who like it will like it a lot. Acorns and little rooms filled with stuff.
CyWorld's situation reminds me a bit of LunarStorm, the very popular network in Sweden. They've had lots of trouble establishing themselves in the UK. So bad, in fact, that NMA just reported that LunarStorm has hired its third UK marketing director in eight months as it "struggles to make an impact on the UK social netowrking scene."
I met with some of the folks behind LunarStorm last year, and whist they knew they would capture the sizable Swedish expat audience in the UK, their biggest concern was trying to figure out how to tap the local market and not seem like an outsider.
Seems like LunarStorm has yet to figure it out. Will CyWorld? I have my doubts.
Why should we be surprised that popular social networks in one country/language/culture are not instantly popular in another?
Word of mouth and great referral marketing from member to member is what will drive adoption. If "foreign" networks can't make local connections easy for new members to make, it will take a lot more than three marketing directors to make things work.
If the usability and design of these imports are seen as "foreign" to those being invited/targeted to join, you may as well not even bother.
According to this report by Katie Fehrenbacher, CyWorld parent company SK Communications has set up a 30 person office in San Francisco, spent around $10 million to the US version and pledges to spend whatever it takes to be succesful in the new market. Still to come are a mobile play and music sales through CyWorld. The company already has localized versions in Japan, China and Taiwan. Localization for most of the rest of the world is in the works.
If MySpace and Facebook are struggling to define themselves as places that include young adults with money, how hard is that going to be for CyWorld? Perhaps in other parts of the world very young children make frequent micro-payment online purchases online (see Finland’s Habbo Hotel - $30m in twenty cent transactions), but I don’t think that’s common practice in the US. Perhaps they are targetting the demographic of adults who love HelloKitty, perhaps I’m wrong and will be surprised.
Finally, a social network those meddling kids won't want to play with ... Eons.com.
Welcome! You’ve arrived at Eons.com and are just moments away from taking the Eons Longevity Calculator. We have designed it exclusively for adults 50+ in cooperation with our Advisor and renowned longevity expert, Dr Thomas Perls. Eons, a new company inspiring adults 50+ to live the biggest life possible, will launch on July 31st.
After hitting it big during the dot-com boom of the 90’s, the tech world’s best-known letter comes out of seclusion for a rare conversation with BidnessWeek’s Steve Rosenblush.
BW Question: Your absence has really thrown a spanner into the trademark and IP strategy of a lot of Web 2.0 firms. Where do you think you’re missed the most?
Letter e reply: There definitely are companies that may be showing signs of having issues. In addition to Flickr, there are companies like Beggr, Coastr, Colrpickr, Fastr, Frappr, Gabbr, Mappr, Nabbr, Phrasr, Soonr, Talkr, Zooomr and probably a metric ton of other ones. A few individuals have flamed me for “stifling innovation,” but I prefer to think of it as an opportunity to help those organizations out of a creative rut. Unfortunately, few seem to have risen to the challenge
Ian Delaney interviews Bebo's Michael Birch. Here are a few excerpts:
On the rumoured buyout offer:
I wish it was true. I’d love to say that we had been offered that much, but unfortunately, no.
On growing the business:
It isn’t rocket science to do. What’s hard is creating the traction.
We learned a lot from Ringo when it came to the technology. We threw features at it. But as we looked at it we learned that only 10% of our users were using those features. So basically we learned how not to scale a social network. Every user takes a hit on the database, and the more you complicate things, the greater that hit will be.
On Bebo's audience:
At the time we launched, the youth market was a very competitive market space, and we had the choice to either be part of that or not. But really, the intention was, and is, to target adults in their 20s or early 30s.
On the next best thing:
There is a big barrier to leaving any network in that all your friends are there. So what happens is that people never really leave. They start frequenting other networks. This happens all the time. Your challenge is to keep evolving, keep making your network as attractive as possible; keep giving them reasons to come back.
I got a beta invite to HubPages. If it is any good, I'll let you know. At first glance, it looks a lot like Digg, except it pays a bit. "Share your passions with the world, and we'll share the profits with you."
Share what you know. Rake in the dough. What's this about making money? Well, that's the best part. We make it easy for you link into eBay, Amazon and Google (with more partners in the works), so that you can display ads and products on your Hub if you so desire.
Not quite what Jason is trying (1, 2, 3) Kevin Rose is countering, and the blogosphereisbuzzingabout, but it is pretty easy to see the trend: Publishers, including 2.0 aggregators, are playing with various economic models and are experimenting with paying those who bookmark, comment, upload, share and blog.
I haven't made up my mind yet, but Calacanis does make a couple good points:
It only makes sense that folks should be paid for community leaders.
Kevin Rose is going to make millions of dollars (perhaps tens of millions) when he sells DIGG to Yahoo (my best guess). When he does sell DIGG - and trust me it will be sold before in the next 12 months - he will have done it on the backs of those top 50 members. Those top 50 members will get exactly ... ummm ..... nothing. If I was running Netscape as a startup I would create a bonus pool for these users in the case the site gets bought. I can't do that given our structure, so we're gonna just pay folks. Kevin should do something similar.
Oh no, that would be a complete destruction of what we consider to be the principles of Digg,” he said. “There will be recognition for the people who do a lot of work on the site, not just for being ranked a Top Digger. In the future, you’ll see other forms of recognition that are purely, you know, things that exist within the community. Certainly no monetary compensation or things like that, because what we don’t want to do is create this artificial hierarchy.
Ya see users like Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit and Flickr because they are contributing to true, free, democratic social platforms devoid of monetary motivations. All users on these sites are treated equally, there aren't anchors, navigators, explorers, opera-ers, or editors.
Netscape needs to find its calling. What will it be - politics, health? Who knows? The community will tell us. Once it appears, Jason and the Netscape team then should quickly build new enhancements that help the audience share content in that vertical in a way they can't anywhere else. Once this happens, Netscape will become a successful site. But paying people to come over is not the answer. That's like bringing Dom Perignon to a frat house party. It might look good, but it's out of place.
So, which is it? Altruistic journalism and social media or cold hard cash? Is there common ground? Can the two co-exist?
MySpace will take in $180 million in U.S. ad revenue this year, predicted research firm eMarketer in a report issued Wednesday.
Social networking sites are expected to account for $280 million in the United States this year, or 1.7 percent of the total U.S. online ad spend, according to eMarketer. By 2010, social networking sites will likely garner $1.86 billion in online advertising in the United States, or 6.3 percent of the projected total, according to the report, "Social Network Marketing: Carving Out MySpace."
Rupert Murdoch can still be surprised. He told The Hollywood Reporter he was stunned by the rapid growth of MySpace since his media conglomerate News Corp. bought parent Intermix Media one year ago. MySpace has had no marketing money spent on it before or after the purchase, he notes.
More than anything else, MySpace has proven to be a PR victory for Murdoch and News Corp. To be fair, the site has more than quadrupled its member-base since News Corp. took it over, but it still amounts to little more than a blip on the company's balance sheet. Murdoch, meanwhile, has appeared in interview after interview; you'd think he was media person of the year after stealing the company for less than $600 million. It was clearly a great bargain, given the site's incredible growth.
But now the question is: Where will he take the company with that growth? "We have to find ways, without destroying its character, of getting more advertising revenue," says Murdoch. He seems to be in no hurry, but maybe he doesn't need to be. The site is one of the biggest--if not the biggest--on the Web.
As I've mentioned before, I like Zillow. They are the Napster of real estate. Those of you contemplating related projects (and, ahem, you know who you are) pay close attention. In the UK, OnOneMap has some buzz, but it is a much different business. Zillow is much more than a cool mash-up.
They just got $25M in a second round. Silicon Beat has the story:
Like Jobster, Zillow is a Seattle Web 2.0 company that has some momentum, and is striking deals with big players. Zillow signed a deal with Yahoo last week, which made it the provider of home estimates for Yahoo Real Estate. It is non-exclusive, and leaves the door open for Zillow to cut a deal with Google, MSN or others -- though Zillow has been mum on that prospect.
The round was led by investment fund PAR Capital Management, which joined previous investors including Benchmark Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV). Zillow has raised $57 million to date -- very similar to the $50 million Jobster has raised. This is now getting into the realm of serious cash amounts. There are only a handful of Web 2.0 companies -- at most -- that have managed to raise so much.
Yesterday, I wrote about Wal-Mart's social networking hubtastic flop. In two words, it sucks. But whatever I said pales in comparison to Ze's video. Milk out the nose funny, if you a) are a geek, b) follow the blogosphere and c) are drinking milk at the moment when you watch it.
Technorati turns 3 and rolls out a major update. Here's a screencast. The redesign is dramatic, and it shows the influence MySpace is having on the blogosphere. From Dave Sifry's blog:
While we got a lot of positive feedback from bloggers about the core Technorati service, we were increasingly hearing that we weren’t being of equal service to folks who are new to the live web. And because our mantra is to be of service – we set about renovating the Technorati site to make it easier to use for all people, whether they regularly create stuff on the web or not.
In other words, Dave and his team are focusing on the general internet population and not just the 56K folks who subscribe to TechCrunch. A good business move, but perhaps a bit unfortunate for those of us who were here from the start, given that priorities (and thus resources) are shifting.
One thing being praised by most folks is the new design of the Discover section.
Of course, there are a few detractors. Paul Stamatiou thinks that "the frontpage is a rainbow. I thought I accidentally landed on http://skittles.com." Ya know, he's got a point there. How about "Taste the inbound links" as a new slogan? Nah. That wouldn't work.
A start-up that I am working with called HorsesMouth.co.uk is looking for a CEO. Here is the job description. It is a fantastic opportunity for the right person. I'd be happy to chat about the position and the company, if you're interested.
Here is some more info about the company:
Social Networking with a Purpose “Someone needs what you know. Someone knows what you need”
Those are the principles guiding horsesmouth.co.uk, a new online social network designed for informal e-mentoring where everyone can get involved both as a giver and a gainer.
Whether we're going through something, getting over something or simply trying to get on with something, there's always someone out there who has “been there, done that, got the t-shirt”. Hearing something “from the horse's mouth” can sometimes make all the difference.
What’s more HorsesMouth.co.uk believes that everyone has value in their unique life experiences and the lessons they’ve learned from them, so everyone can give something back by sharing that learning.
So, advanced search and profiling technology will match and connect people facing choice, challenge and change in any aspect of life, with other people who have been through those experiences and who are willing to talk about them in a secure on-line environment.
HorsesMouth.co.uk lets us learn from each other and learn more about ourselves. It’s free to use and it’s not for profit - and it’s a wonderfully easy new way to give time!
MTV is (finally) launching a social networking site, called Flux. Looks like the URL will be here, but the look and feel may be more like the Italian site, here.
Given the resources and space they occupied in the market, it is hard to believe that MTV was not able to keep pace and see MySpace coming. Michiel Bakker, managing director of MTV in the UK and Ireland, does not seem so concerned with MySpace's 90 million member first-mover advantage:
Seeing the speed at which Bebo emerged, or YouTube exploded out of nowhere, in this space we don't feel we have to be the first mover. We have to create something unique and different.
Unlike Wal-Mart's disasterous attempt, however, MTV has a legitimate reason to be in the social networking space and stands half a chance of success, simply based on the advertising and promotional power that they can put behind this effort, if they put their minds to it. And it looks like that are:
MTV Flux, which follows the launch this year of the on-demand MTV Overdrive broadband service, would be the first service to let users "influence an entire channel and upload their content to be seen in a television environment", Mr Bakker said.
The TV channel, which will launch later on September 6, will have no traditional schedule. It will be overseen by a controller, however, to ensure it abides by broadcasting regulations and MTV will monitor all user-generated content.
The channel will carry advertising and users will not be charged for signing up to the website. Mr Bakker said MTV, part of Viacom, hoped Flux would "offer advertisers the chance to follow consumers around", saying advertisers had shown interest in Flux as a means of targeting the hard-to-reach 16 to 24-year-old audience.
"At the end of the day, all of our channels might be Fluxed. It might be the redefinition of our television channels," he said.
Here's how Media Post's Ross Fadner wrote up the FT report:
The Financial Times reports that MTV has officially made its first big move into social networking, the area dominated by News Corp.'s MySpace. Today, the Viacom company unveiled MTV Flux, a television channel devoted to user-generated content. The service borrows from ideas tested on Web sites in Japan and Italy; it will launch initially in the UK, but will be "monitored very closely" to determine whether it could be successful in other countries. Flux allows people to exchange messages and video clips by computer and mobile phone. It also shows content like music videos chosen by its audience, who display their own videos and messages alongside.
Clearly, MTV's core audience is eroding, thanks to MySpace, YouTube Google Video and other hangouts on the Web. As young media consumers spend more time on the Web, the company realizes it needs more interactive/community features. MTV executives are touting Flux as the first channel that lets users upload their content in a television format. But does that generation really care about television? They'd probably rather have their video passed around YouTube.
Whoever approved The Hub project at Wal-Mart should be fired.
Or, at the very least, the person should have nothing more to do with online marketing. Ideas are fine, and I'm sure when someone said, "It will be the MySpace for WalMart!" it got a bunch of attention. But the exec who heard that line and believed it should be fired, because he/she does not understand interactive marketing and never will.
The Hub is so pathetic, it hurts.
Of all the sad attempts by major brands to co-opt popular online trends (think: Coke Music) this is one of the worst. But don't take my word for it ... Go read what the 1486 people on Digg have to say. The commentary is priceless. Or, if you like a more journalistic critique, give AdAge a try.
When Wal-Mart tries to be MySpace, who do they think they are kidding? Certainly not the kids using social networks like MySpace, Bebo or the others. I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the Wal-Mart marketing department the day they came up with this idea. I need a good laugh now and then.
Paid actors. Fake videos, even/especially on the homepage. Scripted dialogue. "I'll school my way by looking hot in my Wal-Mart clothes to school to catch a cute boy's eye. ..." Catchy slogans that sound like they've been thought up by clever ad agencies and brand marketers. Hey dude, wanna be a Hubster? Plus, it all lives within a nice, sanitized environment where kids can't even email eachother. Sounds really cool, doesn't it? Now *that's* social networking the way it ought to be.
And file this in the strange but true department: All the images on The Hub are hosted in the ExxonMobil account on Akamai. Ewww. Spotted by n.e-lists.
Tiara.com thinks the Flash9 "warning"" from MySpace has less to do with security and more to do with business protection. Are there problems brewing in the MySpace Economy?
What Tom doesn’t mention is that Flash 9 has a a new attribute for the tag called allowNetworking. When set to “internal”, it prevents the use of any Flash Player APIs which interact with the browser, including getURL() which is used to link to other pages from the player. (Note that josh endquote explained this to me). He writes:
“MySpace now transparently adds ‘allowNetworking=”internal”‘ to all Flash Player instanced placed in its pages, effectively disabling any buttons which link anywhere.”
So stuff like Slide.com, RockYou.com, and YouTube’s Flash video wrappers will no longer be able to link back to the sites if the user is using Flash 9.
MySpace can say all they want about wanting to protect users, but really this is about them protecting their advertising dollars. The barnacle-like secondary market sites will have to find increasingly creative techniques to launch Flash-based content within the site if they want it to spread virally.
Given some recent news along the same lines, this move does not surprise me. Here's what TechCrunch had to say:
That’s a major blow against the viral spread of services like YouTube, RockYou and countless emerging others. I’ve been talking to a lot of widget vendors lately, and “it works in MySpace” is a now a primary selling point. Companies are investing large amounts of money in widgetizing content from one site onto another and MySpace is huge. This move, in the name of security, will likely do serious damage to the cottage industry of flash widgets in MySpace. In as much as users love their widgets, that means this will do serious damage to MySpace as well.
Charles Arthur reports in the Guardian on the 1% rule. In Rethinking Pareto, I made much the same observations when I wrote about the phenomenon back in May. And I am not the first, by far, to have noted this trend. Nice to see the Guardian catching on.
It's an emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will "interact" with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it.
The numbers are revealing: each day there are 100 million downloads and 65,000 uploads - which as Antony Mayfield points out, is 1,538 downloads per upload - and 20m unique users per month.
Consider, too, some statistics from that other community content generation project, Wikipedia: 50% of all Wikipedia article edits are done by 0.7% of users, and more than 70% of all articles have been written by just 1.8% of all users, according to the Church of the Customer blog.
Bradley Horowitz of Yahoo points out that much the same applies at Yahoo: in Yahoo Groups, the discussion lists, "1% of the user population might start a group; 10% of the user population might participate actively, and actually author content, whether starting a thread or responding to a thread-in-progress; 100% of the user population benefits from the activities of the above groups," he noted on his blog in February.
Tom Coates (who thinks up neat stuff for Yahoo! and used to work at the BBC) wants to know, Who's afraid of Ashley Highfield? Tom is critical of the new organization and Highfield's place in it. It isn't really a personal attack, per-se, but it isn't very flattering either. His post (and a few of the comments) are worth a read (if you're into this kinda stuff) as it provides some behind-the-scenes info about the BBC.
Tom has written a thoughtful, detailed and in my opinion accurate analysis of the failures of the BBC's Ashley Highfield which I strongly suggest anyone one who cares about the BBC or new media goes and reads.
I really hope that the BBC is strong enough to survive the damage done to its technical capability by John Varney (who has just announced his departure before the shit hits the fan as a result of his asinine deal with Siemens) and Ashley's incompetence and inability to harness, or indeed retain the considerable talents of the people available to him.
People who volunteer to evangelize for particular products are more likely to do so when the products are easy to talk about and from established marketers than when they're so unusual that they defy easy explanation. That's one of the key findings of a new report by word-of-mouth marketing firm BzzAgent.
Almost half - 45 percent - of the volunteers said they chose to promote products that were "easy to talk about," while 40 percent said they touted products from "a trusted name." Only 24 percent said their selected products were "innovative," 23 percent said they were "new and unique," and 21 percent said they were "smart."
If you're looking for some more info on Ed Keller, check out Dave Balter's post about him on the BzzAgent blog.
With all the 2.0 hype, I think it’s unfair to unanimously declare all new Internet startups as 100% junk. It can’t be much more than 95%. So I thought it would be an interesting diversion to switch the tone of my writing for a change. Here are some tips I have for these would-be entrepreneurs to thrive and survive the next 24 months.
The big news of the morning is that YouTube has announced it’s hit 100 million videos served per day. Founded in early 2005, the company has raised at least $11.5 million in venture funding from Sequoia Capital. It’s one of many startups offering video sharing services, but for some reason now has an incredibly dominant position. This weekend’s announcement said that 60% of videos watched online are now served up by YouTube.
The new Thom Yorke album ‘The Eraser’ is out now on XL Recordings and was produced by Nigel Godrich. Its worth a listen, but I'd try to borrow it before I'd buy it. A couple nice tracks, especially the first and last.
The more you try to erase me The more, the more The more that I appear Oh the more, the more The more you try the eraser The more, the more The more that you appear
I also like the piano riffs and the bubbly effects throughout the recording. The whole thing reminds me of Kid A, which despite being a well-produced and very popular album left me non-plussed. Pitchfork gave it a 6.6. Here's what NPR has to say on their podcast. NME reviews it here.
The artwork is by Stanley Donwood, and signed limited edition prints can be purchased on his website. There are billboards of his artwork for the album all over London. I think they're cool.
Umair's latest law is the idea that creativity, not strategy, will be the critical-succes factor in the post-network economy:
I think it is going to have to do with creativity. In a world where strategy is a commodity, creativity becomes the vital factor from which value flows. When everyone can think strategically about everything, the locus of value creation shifts from out-thinking everyone to out-creating them. The prime mover of value creation becomes putting the ability to create (goods, services, processes - even strategies) at the heart and soul of the firm.
He's on the right track.
When responding to Lord Saatchi's article about the strange death of modern advertising in which he blames continuous partial attention (caused by the internet, of course) for the woes of agency networks and their lack of success, I suggested: Couldn't the problem be due to a general decline of creativity in advertising, especially in large shops? It isn't about simplicity and speed as Lord Saatchi suggests. It is about value and choice. More here.
WPP a world leader in communications services, and LiveWorld, Inc., a world leader in online customer community marketing services, today announced the formation of a joint venture that will provide online community and social networking services to major brands worldwide through WPP’s global networks.
The joint venture, named LiveWorld-WPP, will be equally owned by each company and is exclusively dedicated to collaborating with WPP agencies to offer, create, and deploy LiveWorld’s online community and social networking services as marketing venues for WPP’s clients on a global basis.
LiveWorld, Inc. today announced that in conjunction with the formation of a joint venture company with WPP, the Company issued WPP a warrant for 1 million shares of LiveWorld stock priced at $1.00/share and a warrant for 1 million shares of LiveWorld stock priced at $1.10/share.
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.
The fundamental flaw in applying Metcalfe to social technology is its inherent lack of nuance and granularity. When people join the network, they are given more options than simply connecting; the network is worth the sum of associations and actions that are allowed in the network. We must instead think of network value in terms of a network effect multiplier, as the actual value a network adds to an application is under the direct control of the application designers.
The network adds value to flickr and Myspace, but the value it adds is distinctly more nuanced than what Metcalfe proposed - and the value the network adds is in the hands of the designers.
As social networking becomes commoditized, as more and more sites make social a part of their experience, the value-add of embracing social will need to be quantified. Metcalfe's theory is absolutely valid in context, but the applications to social technology lack the nuance that will be required to quantify cash outlays.
He's calling this a "an idea in progress" and is looking for thoughts, comments and feedback.
On the one hand, $500 million revenues in 2007 represents year-on-year growth of 43%. ... On the other hand, this superficially impressive growth at the world's fourth-largest English-speaking website continues to look like a rounding error when compared to the other four of the top five.
• Google: $10.5 billion • eBay: $7.7 billion • Yahoo!: $6 billion and • FIM (including MySpace but also IGN and others): $0.5 billion
Even on Fox's own presumably upbeat forecasts, there is no indication that the world's biggest social networking phenomenon will be worth even a twentieth as much as the world's biggest search destination in eighteen months.
Eighteen months? I think that's a bit too soon to tell just how profitable these networks will become. Their spectacular rise will give way to profits, but the size and types are still in the works. See this post on "Social integration" for more.
I met with John Grant (the former head of planning and founder of St Luke's ) at the Ministry of Sound offices this week where he is consulting, and we had a good chat. He gave me a copy of his third book, The Brand Innovation Manifesto, and it looks good. Haven't read much of it yet, but what I have is well thought out.
John's new blog is here, and there is a short review of his book on the influx web site.
Just came across a post from Beyond Madison Avenue highlighting two very different approaches to the agency/client relationship. The author/copy writer makes the case that it is often better to deliver solutions to clients instead of simply meeting expectations. Don't be put off by the choice of photography: the post is worth a read, regardless of what the seals are doing. Shout-out to Room 116 for spotting it. Here's a quote:
Providing the best solutions possible requires, in a nutshell: • In-depth study of a client's business • Continual learning about new technologies and trends • A desire to educate the client about the evolving worlds of advertising, branding,the marketplace, and their demographic • Willingness to challenge a client when they're not making optimal decisions • Anticipating future needs
Believing that it's most important to do what a client expects often invites: • Passively waiting for clients to make requests instead of offering recommendations • Taking the role as a creative vendor or "creative wrist" rather than a partner • Unwillingness to explore new and better ways of thinking because the client is comfortable with where they are • Shooting down unique, strategic solutions because "the client will never buy that" or "that's not what they asked for"
Yahoo! cries foul as MySpace pulls top ranking Mail&Guardian Online: The MySpace website deemed a virtual clubhouse where teenagers bare details of their lives has eclipsed internet oldster Yahoo! as the most popular website in the United States, a research firm said on Tuesday. Guest post: Advice for Rocketboom from a pro BuzzMachine: I’m not one to run guest posts at Buzzmachine. I have an overdose of blather all by myself. But when I can get someone who wrote for two of my all-time favorite shows, Letterman and Cheers, to write for me, well, I couldn’t pass that up.
Online Video: The Market Is Hot, but Business Models Are Fuzzy Knowledge@Wharton On July 11, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment became just the latest media giant to put its heft behind a small startup, as the white-hot online video market has players both big and small placing bets on digital distribution. Add up the venture capital dollars funding online video startups, the technology advances, the willingness of established players like ABC, CBS and NBC to try new distribution models and the increasing web viewership, and it's clear that the video market is at an inflection point, say experts at Wharton and media research firms. However, several questions remain: What will ultimately become of all the wheeling and dealing in the online video market? What are the most important technologies needed to expand online video? Can online video startups find viable business models? And aren't all parties simply hedging their bets since it's unclear which online video distribution models will win?
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. 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.
On Om's blog, Robert Young argues that traditional media companies should follow News Corp’s acquisition of MySpace and focus on building “socially-integrated media empires.” If they listen, Michael and Barry will indeed look like visionaries.
But just as the Internet was not a subset of AOL, social media will not become a subset of traditional media. In fact, social media will increasingly begin to compete directly with traditional media consumption. Yes, it is true that the media output produced and distributed by the audience itself will generally be of lower production value and quality. Even so, they will prove highly competitive to Hollywood products, as the personal engagement factor inherent in personal media outweighs any loss of production value.
My emphasis, not his. Damn, that's a powerful statement. Read it again:
The personal engagement factor inherent in personal media outweighs any loss of production value.
If you are in the content, media or advertising business, think about what that means for your business.
Scott Karp counters that the model assumes that media companies can “own” social media in the old media sense, and in fact they cannot:
As I’ve argued before, the reason why News Corp is struggling to monetize MySpace is that most people who visit MySpace are not visiting “MySpace,” the News Corp media property — they are visiting EACH OTHER.
I'm not sure. With homepage revenue at a reported $1M/day, I'd say they're not really struggling to monetize the site, as Scott suggests. One thing is clear - MySpace, Bebo and co. do not have the model completely figured out, and at this stage I don't find that surprising at all.
One interesting suggestion Scott makes concerns the development of an AdSense-type system for MySpace and/or other social networks.
It would seem the real opportunity is for someone, News Corp or a third party, to offer MySpace users a platform like AdSense to monetize their content. In this scenario, MySpace is merely a free host, like Blogger — it gives them no advantage in providing this distributed ad platform.
Saw this on Springwise and had to share it ... Couple this trend with a healthy does of managed word-of-mouth, and you'd have yourself a pretty sweet campaign.
Tryvertising is all about brands letting consumers try out their wares in a relevant setting. So, how does a manufacturer of fireplaces go about this? A few years ago, British CVO opened a restaurant in London, where customers can enjoy drinks or dinner by one of the company's designer fireplaces.
CVO's Firevault is an inviting space that displays the fireplaces far better than an ordinary showroom could. Each table has its own fireplace or firebowl, giving potential buyers plenty of time to get a feel for the product. Not just a retail gimmick, Firevault is stylish and hot enough for Time Out magazine to have described the restaurant as one of London’s ten best-kept secrets.
For more smart examples of tryvertising, check out trendwatching.com's briefing.
With a 4.5% share of all US internet vivits for the week ending July 8, 2006, MySpace topped both Yahoo and Google as the #1 site on the internet. Here are some Key numbers for MySpace:
• 75M: Registered members • 30 billion: Total monthly pageviews • $580M: Murdoch's purchase price • $1M: Daily revenue from homepage • 4.5%: US market share
If there were any lingering doubts as to the power and potential of social networks, look no further than the latest report from Hitwise:
Today Hitwise issued a press release reporting that for the first time, www.myspace.com has surpassed Yahoo! Mail as the most visited domain on the Internet for US Internet users. To put MySpace's growth in perspective, if we look back to July 2004 myspace.com represented only .1% of all Internet visits. This time last year myspace.com represented 1.9% of all Internet visits. With the week ending July 8, 2006 market share figure of 4.5% of all the US Internet visits, myspace.com has achieved a 4300% increase in visits over two years and 132% increase in visits since the same time last year.
Reports are circulating that Bebo has turned down an offer of $550 million (£300M) from an unnamed British telcom. Their magic number seems to be closer to $1 billion, if the reports are accurate. The news follows rumors in March that Facebook turned down a $750 million offer.
12 July update: SiliconBeat quotes Sarah Gavin, communications director for Bebo.com: I can confirm that BT has not approached us and we currently have no contact with anyone at BT. We have no idea where this rumour came from.
If true, this is one of those moments that in hindsight will make Michael Birch and Barry Maloney look like visionaries or fools. Given the overall rise of the sector and the incredible traction that Bebo has in Europe, my money is on the former.
Start adding "non-traditional" potential buyers like eBay who are known to spend loads on coolkit, and you would quickly fill your favourite Moleskine. eBay? Yes, eBay. Half of all new Skype accounts come from Bebo.
Pete Cashmore thinks holding out is a good idea. Michael Arrington, who broke the story, doesn't offer an opinion but quotes a Bebo investor from Benchmark as saying, "there has been a lot of interest from a lot of people around Bebo”.
The success of Myspace (controlled by Fox Interactive Media) has led to a series of buyout offers on its competitors. Facebook was rumored to have turned down offers nearing $1 billion from Viacom and Yahoo. It looks like Kleiner’s recapitalization of troubled Friendster late last year for a few million dollars may have been a good bet.
I was recently asked to share some thoughts regarding the impact of emerging technologies in the direct arena.
Direct marketing is going through exciting times, with new technologies for getting close to customers emerging on an almost daily basis. But what are the real impacts of these developments (RSS, blogging, social networking, radio frequency Identification (RFID), and internet protocol technologies (voice over IP and IPTV, and can they ever be direct channels?
Let’s start with a few numbers:
Forty-eight million American adults have contributed some form of user-generated content on the internet, according to the "Home Broadband Adoption 2006," a report published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That's 35 percent of US internet users, and as broadband penetration continues to rise in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, the same trends are emerging across the globe.
Comscore/Media Metrix says that Wikipedia was the 18th most popular destination website on the web in March 2006, with some 25 million visitors that month alone.
As of June 2006, there are over 1,300 free IPTV channels available.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have reported that Internet advertising revenues reached a new record of $3.9 billion for the first quarter of 2006. The 2006 first quarter revenues represent a 38 percent increase over Q1 2005 at $2.8 billion and a 6 percent increase over Q4 2005 total at $3.6 billion.
Internet ad revenue is set to overtake UK national newspaper ad revenue by the end of 2007, according to a report by WPP's pooled buying operation Group M.
Conversations vs. one-directional marketing
Blogs, wikis and other “web 2.0” tools are allowing marketers to enter into conversations with their customers rather than marketing at them. This is happening on a number of levels. It has been said that the internet has transformed consumers into a group which would be better referred to as “the people formerly known as the audience.”
One-directional broadcasting is giving way to multidirectional communications. The internet has drastically lowered the cost of generating messages and participating in global conversations, and new technology and communication platforms are disintermediating traditional top-down marketing channels.
People who only used to receive messages are now creating them. Consumers who once could only watch, listen or read are now creating “citizen’s media” - their own video, audio and written messages which thanks to global networks have the opportunity to be seen, heard and read by millions.
New communication channels
Radio is losing market share to podcasting. Five million radio listeners listened to a Podcast in 2005, and that number is forecast to double in ’06 and ’07. Several million people have downloaded 'The Ricky Gervais Show' podcast, helping to prove the commercial viability of the channel.
TV is losing market share to online video platforms such as YouTube which had 12.6 million visitors in May 2006, a 100% increase from the previous month. Rocketboom, a popular online video news magazine, has over 300K daily viewers, more than most cable news shows.
IPTV provides two-way interaction capabilities lacked by traditional TV distribution technologies and is proving, along with the growing popularity of DVRs and PVRs, that the “audience” wants more control.
Traditional news editing and reporting is losing market share to blogs, social news networks (like Digg), and a plethora of personalized news services using RSS feeds and other data to aggregate global news and information on an individual level.
These changes represent a fundamental shift in control in terms of the way messages are delivered, and marketers who which to remain part of the conversation should pay close attention, lest they be sidelined. This is not to suggest that traditional media channels will cease to exist. Rather, it implies that these emerging channels should be part of the mix as they offer unique and unprecedented ways to converse with consumers.
One recent example: Ford Bold Moves
Ford’s “Bold Moves” campaign is just one example of a major brand deciding to talk with their consumers. Rather than stick to traditional top-down re-branding campaigns including the use of TV, print, PR and other traditional channels, Ford has added a truly interactive platform to campaign’s media mix.
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 Ford Bold Moves.
This level of corporate transparency allows people to watch the company’s attempted turnaround and gives them the opportunity to enter into the conversation via comments, blogs, and tools which allow the easy distribution of Ford’s messages into the rest of the blogosphere.
The emergence of contextual-based advertising models such as Google AdSense which generated $2.7 billion in revenue last year, and new networks like Federated Media, Feedburner Ad Network (FAN), Blogads, and others are allowing marketers to get closer to consumers and their conversations than has been possible.
Most marketers know that word-of-mouth has long been considered the most effective form of connecting people to products, but, until now, nobody has really captured its essence and power. The internet has made it possible for conversations that were once distributed to be captured and managed in a meaningful way. Companies like P&G’s Tremor, BzzAgent and the VW Alpha Drivers campaign are great examples.
"In many ways, the art-form of self-expression has become the “new media”, and social networks are their distribution channels," writes Robert Young on the popular GigOm blog. The phenomenal growth of social networks is providing marketers with the opportunity to reach younger consumers where they “hang out.”
Given their propensity to publish information about themselves, marketers should also be aware of the tremendous data-gathering and mining potential of these networks. The numbers speak for themselves:
• MySpace has over 75M users, 30B impressions/month, $1M/day homepage revenue, and was bought for over $500M by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Interactive. • 88% of 18-34 year-olds have a Bebo account in IRE. The site has 25M users and generates 100M impressions/day.
The trend is global: • Cyworld has 20M daily users ... in South Korea. • Hi5: 40M users, India, the subcontinent and beyond
Vertical networks are emerging, allowing marketers to target their conversations to specific segments. • Gusto (travel) : $4M VC, emerging "editorially enhanced" vertical network. • Boompa (autos): $30K to build, 2 guys, 2 months • Xuoa (gamers): 1M users, "gamer" interface for social interaction
I think we should be asking how big these emerging channels will become, not if they will be channels.
On 20 June, I reported that "social networking powerhouse Bebo has has hired veteran marketer, entrepreneur and digital expert Sháá Wasmund as the Managing Director of their UK operations."
Well, it looks like Sháá has changed her mind, turning her back on a what looked like a fantastic deal with Bebo to work on a new venture with Dan Wagner on a yet-to-be-named real-estate project. Wagner runs Venda, an e-commerce provider.
All I can say is that it must be a very interesting project, as Shaa certainly is a fantastic judge of opportunity and business potential.
More on this as the story develops ... Here's the report from the Sunday Times:
New director says bye-bye to Bebo
The internet entrepreneur who last month agreed to become the UK director of Bebo, the fast-growing website popular with teenagers, has decided to quit for another venture, turning her back on an equity stake potentially worth millions.
Shaa Wasmund is to team up with Dan Wagner, who now runs Venda, which provides e-commerce sites for many leading retailers. Wagner is best known in the City as the head of Maid, an often-controversial online information company that later changed its name to Bright Station. Wagner and Wasmund are to work on a yet-to-be-revealed residential-property business.
Wasmund said she had turned her back on “a fantastic deal” with Bebo because of her desire “to build something up from the ground”. She and Wagner had been talking about working together for a while, but he finalised his plans shortly after she took the Bebo job.
Michael Birch, the British founder of Bebo, was understanding about Wasmund’s reasons for leaving. “Shaa’s great,” he said. “She’s very entrepreneurial. I want to keep working with her in some way."
The winner will receive a high end Apple laptop, a visit to the BBC and have their design implemented and showcased on the bbc.co.uk homepage this summer. There are several runners-up, and many of the other designs are noteworthy.
You've got to hand it to the BBC (and Ashley Highfield, in particular) for having the insight/guts to do this. I've met many (and unfortunatley on occasion have worked with a few) companies who've had ideas like this but have stopped short of doing it. They talk the talk but can't walk the walk.
Not only does a project like this inspire a group of mavens to think about and discuss the BBC (which in and of itself is incredibly valuable), Ashley Highfield and his team now have 11 "winning" designs (and what looks to be about 50 non-winners) to glean for future use.
Total cost? 1 Apple laptop and 10 MP3 players. And some time.
If you want to read some excellent critical thinking about Facebook, look no further than Fred Stutzman's blog. His latest post, Adopting the Facebook: A Comparative Analysis, Fred uses UNC data (where he is a PhD candidate) to show the growth and potential of the network.
Ogilvy Group UK has appointed Bo Hellberg, creative director at the agency's digital arm Ogilvy Interactive, to its board.
I met Bo a few weeks ago for the first time, and he struck me as a very bright and experienced guy. Given his appointment and John Baker's hire as Managing Partner, OgilvyOne London, I'd say they're getting much more serious about digital.
What remains to be seen is whether such a large and potentially lumbering agency can be creative while moving fast enough to keep up with the pace being set by smaller more nimble shops.
I'm calling it the Modernista test, and the jury's still out on whether they'll pass it.
Guy spotted three interesting essays on social networks. The first two by Tristan Louis are pretty short, but make good points. The third was written by Fred Stutzman (whose blog I have been reading much more lately) back in January and is a must-read.
For all of you thinking about starting a corporate blog (yes, that means you John, Matt, Sam and others) Meryl K. Evans has written some quick tips to building a better blog and makes some good recommendations, in particular, for business bloggers. Thanks for the link, Steve.
It is the business of the future to be dangerous; and it is among the merits of science that it equips the future for its duties. ... The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur.
I'm sure Whitehead (1861-1947) did not have a crazy online pool game in mind when he wrote that, but it is still worth wasting five minutes playing.
Amanda Congdon, host of the wildly popular Rocketboom, has apparently been fired by founder and 51% shareholder Andrew Baron. To say the blogosphere is wildly buzzing would be a massive understatement.
Sony Ericsson serves up the latest spot in their "Never miss a shot" campaign, and Bartle Bogle Hegarty's work is pretty stale.
Technically, the spot is well-executed, but it lacks pace, personality and creativity. I'm sure it cost a fortune. What a shame.
Equally as bad is the nevermissashot.com web site, where people are invited to play an incredibly lame online version of the rooftop tennis match between Ana Ivanovic and Daniela Hantuchova. Given the talent of these two players, isn't there anything better they could think of?
Brand Republic claims that the ad "reinforces the mobile phone company's sponsorship of the women's tennis tournament, the Sony Ericsson WTA tour." I found one link to "see the girls on tour," but for the life of me, I can't how they think that "reinforces" much of anything.
You guessed it, it’s a marketplace for companies to connect with bloggers who are willing to blog about a product - for a price. The companies can set guidelines for their requests such as whether a picture must be included and whether they will only pay for positive blog coverage. There does not appear to be any requirement that the payment for coverage be disclosed. There is a requirement that PayPerPost.com must approve your post before you are paid. Wow.
Whilst Jeremiah Owang is critical of MindComet (the company behind PayPerPost.com) he takes it pretty easy of founder Ted Murphy. Scoble is not too happy about this and offers his own guidelines.
Of course, the mainstream media will undoubtedly jump all over this story. Business Week's Polloting the Blogosphere is the first, and I am sure others will follow.