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Is MySpace just a flavour of the month?

Yuki Noguchi writes in the Wash Post that In Teens' Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year.

More opinion than fact, but still worth a read. For now, however, a ton of people are still using MySpace and FIM's $585M investment has proven to be incredibly smart, especially given the recent $900M ad deal with Google. Fake friends, an overload of spam and a horrible user interface could change that if FIM doesn't react and not just ride the wave.

Noguchi writes that "one key measure of a site's popularity is the amount of time a user stays on the site" and points to a decline in that metric to cast doubt on MySpace's business. I hate to disagree, but time on site is a pathetic way to measure usage or success online.

Sorry Yuki, but talking about stickiness isn't even "so last year"... it is so 2001.

On MySpace, the poor quality of the UI actually creates bogus clicks and forces extra pages on people. That, in turn, generates extra time on site. As people get used to the horrible interface, they might learn how to get around some of the problems and thus need to spend less time on site. Also, to their credit, FIM has made a few changes, and it has improved the navigation and structure of the site. That, too, could lower time on site.

The bigger point, however, is that time on site means nothing, when compared to the number of visits, members and interaction. Oh, and then there are metrics like revenue and ROI, but why should we worry about those, right? The difference today is that businesses care less about stickiness and more about the bottom line, and that's a good thing.

Mathew Ingram has posted some good commentary as well as a bunch of links to others discussing the issue. And for a blast from the past, check out Scott Karp's post on the subject earlier this year when he wrote that he has "no interest in declaring MySpace “dead” — just deeply, deeply vulnerable."

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Number 5 is alive!

The preview of my latest project, the official site for the 2007 Red Bull Hike&Ride, is now online. Here's the trailer:

In addition to the site, we'll be posting a bunch of stuff on the Blogospheric page over on YouTube. Stay tuned for more news, videos and podcasts over the next couple of months. This is going to be another top class event from Red Bull Switzerland.

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Monday, October 30, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

An open letter to the Performancing team:

I love Performancing, as I have stated a number of times in other posts. I've been blogging for 5 years and have written over 1000 posts, and I don't know of a tool that has helped me blog better than Performancing. It transformed the way I blog.

And I like Jed Brown. He's doing his best to fix whatever is going wrong between Firefox, Performancing and Blogger. Let me repeat: I think Jed is a great guy, and I think he is doing his best to deal with the situation.

That said, Performancing for Firefox is beginning to suck, and what was an incredible tool is becomming a total pain in the ass.

The number of times I try to blog using Performancing and get errors of diffent sorts has continued to rise over the past several months. I've sent screenshots and details of all of them to Jed. I am using the 1.35beta1 beta version of PFF that he sent around, and it is not helping.

Nothing is working the way it should. Most of the time, things aren't working at all. Error this. Error that. Login pop-up error here. API pop-up error there. Even things that were working (like posting to Delicious simultaneously) have stopped working. And why does it seem that YouTube videos can no longer be embedded via PFF?

You guys have been doing an excellent job of building your reputation and service via great products and postive word-of-mouth. That will not last if this kind of thing persists.

Remember Friendster? Remember how popular it was? Remember how bad the technology became (it was slow as a snail) while everyone in the company concentrated on marketing and new product development instead of making sure the core business was 100% spot-on?

Remember what happened to them? They got crushed.

They failed because of their inability to address basic performance issues and get the core product to work perfectly. And also because of their old-school board of directors and crap senior management team, but I digress ...

Just get it right before it is too late.

George Nimeh

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Saturday, October 28, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

9rules Round 5

9rules is a fab community and network of blogs on a variety of topics. They're a great way to grow the exposure of your blog and be in contact with like minds.

Having missed several previous rounds (they take submissions sporadically and only for 24 hours), I'm very happy have my name in the hat for Round 5. Several blogs I read (like Pete Cashmore's Mashable! and Ethan Kaplan's BlackRimGlasses) are part of 9rules, and it would be great to be in .

If you're a blogger and want to submit, you can find out more about it on the official 9rules blog. They've already broken Round 4’s record of 700 sites, and it is only 10am EST.

That blogging thing seems to be catching on. ;-)

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Jarvis responds

Just in case you're new to this whole blogging thing, Jeff Jarvis is a major player and coined "Exploding TV" as a catch-phrase. Been following him since we worked together at Advance Publications when he ran the online show and I was a just just getting started. His latest:

In a speech to the Royal Television Society (one wonders what could ever be royal about television), Peter Fincham, the controller — that is, chief programmer and boss — of BBC One, responded to a column I wrote about exploding TV for Media Guardian.
It is a nice entry into the subject.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Lessig vs. Carr

Lawrence Lessig writes about the new ethics and make-up of 2.0 companies, and Nick Carr doesn't like it calling it 2.0lier than thou.
Lessig: It may hide its true nature behind a seductive mask of coolness, but make no mistake: YouTube is an imposter. It has failed to respect the ethics of the web. By contrast, every other major Web 2.0 company does expressly enable true sharing.

Carr: The companies that Lessig uses to support this incredible statement are Flickr,, EyeSpot, Revver, and "even Google." EyeSpot? Revver? These are "major Web 2.0 companies"? What about MySpace? What about Facebook? What about Digg? What about Craigslist? What about Google's vast search business? Do any of these "expressly enable true sharing" of their core content? No, Lessig's audacious attempt at revisionism just doesn't fly.
In fact, Carr not only disagrees, he thinks Lessig has an ulterior motive for writing about it in the first place:
He wants to redefine "Web 2.0" in order to promote a particular ideology, the ideology of digital communalism in which private property becomes common property and the individual interest is subsumed into the public interest - in which we become the web and the web becomes us.
Makes some sense, especially given Lessig's Common Content project. (I'm a big fan of Common Content, btw, and this site carries its license.)

Carr's post raises some very valid points and merits a response from Lessig. Hope Larry has some time to reply.

And speaking of 2.0lier than thou ... The following is from Neville Hobson's post about the launch of Crayon, the consulting business that he's launching with Joseph Jaffe, Shel Holtz, and CC Chapman:
We’re a solution provider. We’re an extension of your team. Consider us a new breed of partner – one that keeps everyone honest and on the right path. Our client is not the consumer: our client is the truth.
Our client is the truth? Wow. That's mighty high and mighty of them, now isn't it. Guess they won't be working for Wal-Mart any time soon, so it can't be all that bad.

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Monday, October 23, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Shock (and remix) the Monkey

Peter Gabriel has been pretty experimental throughout his career. So, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that he'd zig when the majors in the music industry zag in terms of copyright and promoting his record label.

Kudos to Gabriel for staying relevant and backing such a cool idea. And kudos to BusinessWeek for yet another good article:
The resulting Shock the Monkey remix contest, viewable on, is one rock musician's solution to the problem faced by nearly everyone in the media business these days: how to stay relevant when consumers are generating so much of their own content on sites such as News Corp.'s (NWS) MySpace and Google's (GOOG) latest acquisition, YouTube.

To kick off the contest, Gabriel did something close to revolutionary for an established musician. Back in March, he posted a so-called sample pack of Shock the Monkey consisting of vocals and other pieces of the original multitrack recording. For most people in the music business, that is the commercial equivalent of hiring kidnappers to babysit.
One thing I really liked about the competition was the way the voting was structured: The public was allowed to vote for the finalists, and the jury (including Gabriel, of course) picked the winners. That's a nice balance of control, and I'm thinking of doing something similar with this years Hike&Ride.

What's missing? They could use an easy way to distribute and embed the contest's content all over the web. I'd love to have Multman's excellent "Simian Surprise" Remix playing here whilst you are reading this post. In lieu of that, I highly recommend that you give it a listen. The other top 10 finishers are here. Some of them are pretty interesting.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Mother knows best

My mom emailed me about the PBS show "Bill Moyers on America on The Net@Risk" about the state of the internet in the US. She says, "It was excellent and brought up several points I was unaware of. Maybe you'de like to check it out.

Davis Isenberg also enjoyed it, and he's written a nice summary and review of the show over on the worldchanging blog.

Thanks mom.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Two more fake Edelman blogs

They keep trying to dig their way out of thier hole.

Media Post writes:
PR firm Edelman, which last week pledged to be more transparent in its involvement with client-related blogs, Thursday revealed it is behind two more 'flogs,' or fake blogs, created on behalf of Wal-Mart.

Until the new disclosures, both blogs appeared to have been created and contributed to by independent supporters of the big box retailer, an Edelman client.
Steve Rubel (blogger and Edelman exec) says the both sites have been "updated". The PR firm is a member of WOMMA (there's an Edelman employee on thier board) which has posted a statement:
The agency's lack of disclosure on the blog is a violation of WOMMA's Code of Ethics, which requires honesty and full disclosure in all marketer-sponsored communications.

Such transgressions, particularly by a member, are of grave concern to WOMMA, which has led the fight for high ethical standards in word of mouth marketing and social media. Our Ethics Code sets clear guidelines for disclosure by marketers.
A few people are not entirely satisfied, including WOMMA member David Binkowski. B.L. Ochman wants them tossed out. Andy Sernovitz, CEO of WOMMA has opened a discussion on the issue here:

This is neither good for Edelman, Edelman's clients, Steve Rubel's reputation, nor WOMMA. Nor is it good for the blogosphere.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Read this blog!

Catchy, right? The creative team took a week to come up with it. Media planners took another four days to put together the buy. Account management worked hard to ensure mutual satisfaction and a good margin.

And it took you one second to read it.

Clear Channel, which owns more than 1,200 stations and is the largest radio company in the US, thinks super-short ads are such a great idea that they're rolling them out across their network.

In Burgers and Other Goods in the Blink of an Eye, Knowledge@Wharton asks how effective are short ads?
Clear Channel has begun selling five-second, two-second and even one-second spots in the hope that cost-conscious marketers will find them attractive, according to The Wall Street Journal. Clear Channel is hoping to benefit from increased ad sales in the face of heightened competition for ad dollars from a variety of new and old media. But how much can an advertiser communicate in a five-second "adlet" or a two- or one-second "blink," as these super-short ads are called?
Is this the extreme result of continuous partial attention? Seems like it to me.

Is this another sign of Lord Saatchi's prediction of the strange death of modern advertising? No, I don't think so. I still think that it isn't just about simplicity and speed. It is about value, choice and creativity. These super-short ads will suck, and they will annoy people.

Joe Turow, who I did some research for whilst I was at Penn's Annenberg School, is quoted in the K@W piece and compares super-short ads to product placement:
The whole idea of whizzing past people is part of what product placement is about ... and these short ads are not all that different -- it's a fleeting mention of a product that's designed to reinforce a kind of memory retrieval system.
Whilst I agree that super-short ads may reinforce a message, I think they lack the context of good product placement. Done right, placement associates the product with a specific environment. An Apple laptop in the living room. A can of Coke at the movies. A Chanel dress on the red carpet. Just shouting the brand names isn't enough.

Need proof that there is still room for creative long-format attention-grabbing advertising that needs an entire whopping minute to take place? Ladies and gentlemen, witness Jonathan Glazer's latest work for Sony:

A nice hi-res version of the video is here. For more on Lord Saatchi, see: Dead flowers on advertising's grave.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

All your ad revenue are belong to us

A new eMarketer report will show that Google is the first business to capture 25% of all U.S. online ad spending in a calendar year. Google and Yahoo have a combined 43% share of the online ad market.

Image Hosted by

From Jimmy at PaidContent:
The report says that the U.S. online ad market is $16 billion, and Google will get $4 billion of that — after traffic acquisition costs. If eMarketer is right, that represents a 65-percent increase for Google from last year.

The report, to be released officially today, also notes that Google is putting more space between it and its competitors; in 2005, Yahoo and Google posted very similar numbers just above $2.4 billion. As eMarketer senior analyst David Hallerman told MarketWatch: “These growth numbers establish Google as the unrivaled king of online advertising universe, leaving Yahoo, with its greater advertising diversity and years of media experience, struggling in second place.” Second place isn’t so bad — $2.86 billion, which makes for an 18 percent share – but that’s down from 19.4 percent last year. And, of course, this is before a single dollar of YouTube ad space gets counted.
That's not counting YouTube, by the way. Think about that part for just a second: Between the MySpace advertising deal and the YouTube acquisition, they've cornered the social media advertising business.

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Absolutely massive.

Discussion: MarketWatch PaidConent. TechCrunch has a good piece on Yahoo! and Microsoft's preparations to battle back.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Yahoo! Earnings: Q3 was not that pretty

“While we are tremendously excited about many things happening at Yahoo!, we are not satisfied with our third quarter financial performance,” CEO Terry Semel said during the company’s earnings call.

IP Democracy has a good round-up of Yahoo!'s fairly ugly 3rd quarter.

While revenues rose 19% year-over-year to $1.58 billion, they barely rose (up only .3%) sequentially. Net income dropped 38% year-over-year, and 3.9% sequentially, to $158.5 million.
And despite big plans for social media and the much-anticpated launch of Panama (their new search advertising platform), Yahoo! dampened expectations for Q4 06, saying that revenue will range from $1.15 billion to $1.27 billion, down slightly from analysts’ expecations and off from the $1.58 billion posted for Q3 06.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Online measurement: Are we there yet?

Another thought-provoking piece in Business Week, this time on the state of the online measurement business and the trouble of getting consistent and accurate numbers.

As I attended Aggregators Upsetters last night (more on that soon), the topic of aggregation is top-of-mind this morning, so the article was very timely.

As long as I've been in the business, there are some things that have always been true about online measurement, tracking and reporting:

1) It is easy for owners to get precise numbers about traffic, visits, members, sales data and so on. Good internal reporting systems deliver incredibly accurate numbers down to the place, pence and person.

2) You can always tell smart businesses from, er, those "in need of some help" by how good they are with thier data. Tracking and reporting is a great place to pass judgement.

3) There are a range of reporting options depending on budget and need. Examples range from simple free open-source solutions (AWStats), to slightly more complex (but still free) systems integrating ad tracking and reporting (Google Analytics, previously Urchin), to more complex and in-depth analytical tools (MMA's services, including Digital ROI).

4) External partners have always been able to deliver real numbers. That is true for clickthroughs, sales data, ad and pageview impressions, sign-ups and registrations. Depending on the deal, rich demographic and psychographic data has also been highly accurately reported.

5) I have never seen or worked with an aggregator (ComScore/Media Metrix, Nielsen//NetRatings, Alexa) that has accuratetly mirrored internal data.

6) Of all the aggregators, anyone who puts even a grain of sand's worth of trust in Alexa's numbers is a complete fool. They're a joke.

7) The numbers from the aggregators are generally higher than internal numbers. As a marketer, they always make you feel good compared to reality, don't they?

8) Businesses hate sharing real/internal numbers, because of the variance between internal numbers and what gets reported by the aggregators. This is especially true for start-ups. They are worried how they will compare to the "unreliable" numbers from competitors and aggregators.

Anyone have 9 and 10 to round out the list? ;-)

Here's my favourite (and controversial) quote from Web Numbers: What's Real?:
The dirty little secret of Silicon Valley is that no one knows exactly who is going where on the Web. That flies in the face of the impression that online advertising is the most dependably trackable ad medium of all time, a big reason spending on Web ads is expected to grow 33% this year, to $16 billion. But confusion over traffic measurement could cast a chill over the Web 2.0 craze. Valuations for startups such as Facebook Inc. and YouTube Inc. appear to be doubling every few months, but those numbers are based on traffic figures that could be misleading.
Max Kalehoff calls the article "overly sensational and overplayed". What do you think?

By the way, if I didn't know better I'd say the folks at Business Week are trying to make a real go at reporting on that there innerneter thingy, albeit from a slightly skeptical and headline-grabbing vantage point. Damn those pro journos. Need more? See their CEO Guide to Social Networks.

Discussion: IP Democracy, AttentionMax, VCMike's Blog and Slashdot.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Edelman's mea culpa

A Commitment, Richard Edelman
On Edelman and Wal-Mart, Steve Rubel

Here is my comment on Richard Edelman's post:
Hi Richard,

Nice to (finally) hear from you.

Steve suggests on his blog that there is a process in place that prevented you (both/all) from talking about the situation until now. Clearly, that process is outdated and needs revising.

At the very least, something like "we're aware of the situation and will respond in due course." At the very least, it would help people understand that you were not turning a blind eye to the whole thing in the hopes that it would simply go away. That is a sure-fire way of growing negative WOM.

Your delay in response fuelled speculation and doubt. Your absence from the conversation shifted the focus from Wal-Mart squarely onto Edelman. Perhaps that's where it belonged the entire time.

I believe that you missed an opportunity to show what the future of PR and communications will look like when done right. Instead, the way this went down has old-school PR written all over it.

This goes down in my book as a complete failure to walk the talk.

And as for working with Wal-Mart, when you hang around dogs, you get fleas.

Here's what I posted on Steve Rubel's blog:
Hi Steve,

Nice to hear from you.

Despite the fact that you had "no personal role in this project," your thought leadership and voice was needed during this period of speculation and doubt.

It would have helped Edelman. It would have been good for you.

If there is a process, as you suggest, it needs revising.

You are the last person who needs to be told about active and timely communications. I won't bother, as I know I'd be preaching to the choir.

That said, you missed an opportunity here to show what the future of PR and communications will look like when done right.

The way this went down has old-school written all over it.

Discussion: Mathew Ingram, Mark Evans, Robert Scoble and BL Ochman, among others.

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Monday, October 16, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Zoom in

If you need a good laugh, just start to zoom in on this Google map. How the heck do people find these things?

Monday, October 16, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Edelman's fleas

No surprise here. The lack of response (several days/news cycles) from Edelman (or VP/blogger Steve Rubel) about their involvement in latest marketing scandal at Wal-Mart is starting to generate a ton of bad press for the agency.

Look at Techmeme ... The story is shifting focus in the blogosphere. What was a Wal-Mart scandal over a phoney blog is becoming a much larger issue of ethics, integrity, transparency, and control in the PR and marketing business.

Scott Karp's piece on the issue of control is worth reading, as I think it gets at the root of why Wal-Mart and/or Edelman would make a decision like this in the first place.
So Edelman naturally fell back on the approach that has worked for decades — control the conversation by manufacturing it, because if you can’t control the conversation, then you can’t make it do what you want. Edelman wanted to make consumers think that Wal-Mart is a hip place that you’d want to use as the anchor point for a road trip. The problem is it’s not. And because blogging is not a control-based medium, Edelman couldn’t make Wal-Mart appear to be something it’s not. It rang false, and they got caught.
When you hang around dogs, you get fleas.

Previous posts on i-boy:
Techmeme wakes up to Wal-Mart fiasco
Wal-Mart sucks with Edelman's help

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Monday, October 16, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     2  comments

The failure of Friendster

Finally, a mainstream media piece about the failure of Friendster. In Wallflower at the Web Party, Jonathan Abrams writes the article that many involved knew was coming, and few wanted to have to read.

It paints a pretty ugly picture of Friendster's high-profile investors, board of directors and revolving door management team. At fault? The inability to address basic performance issues and, as some others have mentioned, an unwillingness to allow group-level communicaitons (ie: Fakesters) in favour of uniquely person-to-person connections.
There is no single reason that explains Friendster’s failures, Professor Piskorski added, which is what makes it academic fodder. "It’s a power story," he said. "It’s a status story. It’s an ego story." But largely, he said, Friendster is a "very Silicon Valley story that tells us a lot about how the Valley operates."
The usual suspects have reviews and comments, including Mike Arrington, Mathew Ingram, Venture Beat (a new favourite of mine), and Brady Forrest over on O'Reilly's Radar.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     1  comments

Techmeme wakes up to WalMart fiasco

Ever since I wrote about Edelman's mis-management of Wal-Mart's blogging "scandal", I've been waiting for my favourite meme-tracer, TechMeme, to pick it up. Seems like it has finally caught hold of the story thanks to Mathew Ingram's post. Better late than never, Gabe.

Shel Holtz, Robert Scoble, Neville Hobson and many others are/have been writing about it as well.

Still no word from Edelman or uber-blogger and Edelman VP Steve Rubel. Not good. Even if it is to say "we had nothing to do with it," which seems increasingly unlikely, this is a complete failure to walk the talk.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     2  comments

Piracy as a business model

Over on ArsTechnica, Nate Anderson has a good post on Disney-ABC's embrace of piracy as a business model.

There is reason to believe that certain traditional media companies may be (finally) shifting their opinions with regards to online content, copyright and the definition of piracy.

The first signs have come from recent deals between old-school content and media companies like Universal Music Group, Warner Music, Sony BMG and EMI Group with the likes of Google, YouTube and SpiralFrog.

Network TV is making a move as well, and the latest evidence is found over at Disney-ABC. ArsTechnica, MediaPost and others report on a a recent analyst call with Anne Sweeney, president of Disney's ABC Television Group and one of Fortune's "50 Most Powerful Women in Business":
"So we understand piracy now as a business model," said Sweeney in a recent analyst call. "It exists to serve a need in the marketplace specifically for consumers who want TV content on demand and it competes for consumers the same way we do, through high-quality, price and availability and we don't like the model. But we realize it's effective enough to make piracy a key competitor going forward. And we've created a strategy to address this threat with attractive, easy to use ways to for viewers to get the content they want from us legally; in other words, keeping honest people honest."
From MediaPost:
Sweeny implied that it might be more productive to try to understand companies that operate peer-to-peer networks or distribute file-sharing software rather than to sue them for copyright infringement. "So we understand piracy now as a business model," Sweeney said, calling it "a key competitor going forward."

In response, ABC last spring started offering free episodes of "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" with ads viewers couldn't skip on its own media player. The trial was an instant hit, and the company decided to offer the service permanently. "We've created a strategy to address this threat with attractive, easy-to-use ways to for viewers to get the content they want from us legally," said Sweeney. It may be hard to compete with free, but ABC proves that it isn't impossible.
Six million people used ABC's trial service earlier this year, and those kind of numbers are hard to argue with, regardless of how many overly-worried affiliates you might piss off. Ars continues:
While it's hard to compete with free, it's not impossible—witness the success of iTunes in both music and TV shows. You just have to offer a compelling product at a reasonable price that is simpler to use than the alternatives. When ABC introduced its own shows into iTunes earlier this year at $1.99 a pop, it sold more than 8 million of them without damaging its TV ratings at all.
There comes a time when the demand from people outweighs outdated business models and relationships. That time, it would seem, has come.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Wal-Mart sucks with Edelman's help

As if the exposure and subsequent hubtastic failure of Wal-Mart's social networking disaster was not enough, now comes this:

It now appears that "Wal-Marting Across America," a blog and travel journal originally thought to have been created by a pair of average Americans has been exposed as an elaborate PR stunt. One of its two contributors was revealed to be Jim Thresher, a staff photographer for The Washington Post, and Edelman PR is backing the whole thing.

Shame on you Steve Rubel for letting something like this happen. Is this what you meant by Accelerating the Conversation? I have so much respect for much of what you've written, but this is sh*t and you know it.

From Media Post:
The blog, launched Sept. 27, was profiled in this week's issue of BusinessWeek, which exposed the site as a promotional tactic engineered by Working Families for Wal-Mart (WFWM), an organization launched by Wal-Mart's public relations firm Edelman. WFWM paid for the RV and all travel expenses, rerouted the trip's original plan, and plastered a logo on the RV's side. Although the blog featured a link to WFWM, it did not identify the organization as a paid sponsor.
The Business Week piece is called Wal-Mart's Jim and Laura: The Real Story. Wal-Mart Watch, who originally exposed Thresher's involvement, has an excellent recap and has been updating the story on a regular basis. Here is the latest from the AP, who reports that Thresher has been told by his employer, The Washington Post, to give back the money and remove his photos and comments from the site.

And as for Edelman, well, let's just say that this fiasco is generating a bit of bad PR for the PR firm. The Writing on the Wall has some harsh words, and Amanda Chapel's satrical and funny piece Edelman Announces Preference for Companies that Suck is spot-on.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     3  comments

Learn what you need. Share what you know.

That's Helium's pitch. Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it?  ;)

Helium (very memorable, yet totally non-descript name ... those kids just love that, don't they?) combines original writing with user rankings and profit sharing. In other words, they've combined several elements of content creation with community-based valuation models.

Much like Newsvine and not as groupie/popularity-contest prone as Digg. Helium is not an expert community. As Marshall Kirkpatrick writes in TechCrunch:
It’s not expert vetted, for that you’ll have to go to the NYTimes or Citizendium, and it’s not collaboratively written like Wikipedia. It’s not crazy (in a nice way) like Squidoo. It is collaboratively edited in a unique and compelling way.
I'm not saying on bullish on their prospects, but their idea/approach is not bad idea at all.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

$1.65 billion

The rumors were true: Google is buying YouTube. And in case you were wondering, there are just a few people writing about it.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

$100 million for your ideas details 20 Smart Companies to Start Now, a compendium of start-up opprtunities that major VCs are looking to fund.

Howard Schultz, Steve Case, Vinod Khosla, and other major investors are sharing their best startup ideas. And they're willing to give a collective $100 Million to the entrepreneurs who can make them happen.

Sounds like fun and flies in the face of Sevin Rosen's decision not to raise Funx X (their tenth fund) because, as the NYTimes reports, “The traditional venture model seems to us to be broken,” Steve Dow, a general partner at Sevin Rosen Funds, said in an interview.

Fred gets all the credit for spotting the piece on Rosen, and his reply and retort is excellent:
We need a new approach to the kind of companies we fund and we need a new approach to how we fund them and how we get out of them. I don't see that as a "broken model", just a model that we need to tweak. The answers are pretty obvious actually.

We've got to raise smaller funds.
We've got to do less "hard tech" and more "soft tech"
We've got to figure out how to make great returns on $100mm to $250mm exits
We've got to limit our IPOs to our very best companies
Compared to the madness of the 90s and the sh*t that VCs shoveled into the market, that kind of thinking is a breath of fresh air.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Google acquires YouTube?

$1.6 billion is the number being floated around the blogosphere. I feel obligated to post some links, given the massive buzz:

Arrington, updated, where it all began. (As usual.)
WSJ, who substantiated it.
HitWise, who doubt it.
USA Today, who do a good round-up.
Charlene Li on the hearts and minds.
AP, who try to report the facts.
Jason Calacanis, once sceptic, now thinks it is a great deal.
TechMeme, who have a zillion links.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Windows Vista viral is the home of a new viral campaign for the upcoming launch of Windows Vista. It is my pick for viral campaign of the month.

What I like most about it is that it has nothing to do with Windows Vista. It is simply entertaining. Windows Vista has allowed me to be entertained, and I like that. As a result, my opinion of Windows Vista and my attitude towards the brand is a bit more open than is was before.

Why? Well, because someone knew that trying to sell me on the features of Vista or offering me a discount to run out and try it at this point just won't work. That isn't the way people like me want to receive messages. They understood that the best way to get in contact with me was to entertain me a bit, sit back, and see what happens.

And yes, I'm sure a megaton of traditional marketing is on the way. Remember The Rolling Stones "Start Me Up" for Windows 95? But for now, I'm aware it is out there, and my attitude is more open towards the brand. That's not a bad way to start a conversation. A viral marketing icebreaker, of sorts.

It is clear that with, the battle for Daily Show comedians continues between Apple and Microsoft. Apple has John Hodgman on the Mac-vs-PC campaigns, and now Demetri Martin is the focus of this Vista viral. Demetri does the "Trendspotting" skits on The Daily Show, in case you were wondering and MS already sponsor's Demetri's These are the Jokes tour.

What is less clear is the point of the whole thing ... but who cares. It is funny, and I'm sure it will go somewhere. Also on the downside is that it feels a bit too much like an Apple campaign. But then again, imitation is what Microsoft does best. Heck, they've built a business on it.

A WHOIS lookup reveals that the site was registered by "Not the Carrot", apparently an agency in the Netherlands. Thier site cannot be accessed. Sidenote: Precision Marketing's current issue reports on the success of viral in the Netherlands. They've made the content easy to share: downloads, RSS feeds, email and an embeddable player. The artwork is by Michael Gillette and the music is by Film School Music.

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Friday, October 06, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

K@W on $ocial network$

One of the latest Knowledge@Wharton articles is causing a stir in the blogosphere. Here is the piece: Dot-Com Bubble, Part II? Why It's So Hard to Value Social Networking Sites

Rafat is critical of the fact that the folks at Wharton won't take a stand:

On the Knowledge@Wharton site, an unbylined author explores why it’s so hard to value social networking sites. Several Wharton professors look at the numbers, acknowledge that someone is bound to be a winner, but both the subjects and the author say — you guessed it — that it’s too early to tell. “If you have a little bit of money invested in this and you’re already invested in other things,” says Wharton adjunct finance professor John R. Percival. “Frankly the risk is not as big as you think.” In other words, the experts tell us, we don’t really know.

He then asks, "Should this be so difficult?" It is an insightful piece.

After looking at Wharton's numbers and running some numbers himself, Om thinks their point seems to be, "In bubbly times, fuzzy math is the best we’re gonna get."

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Thursday, October 05, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Bebo closing the gap

From Hitwise:
In doing a demo of Hitwise this week, we noticed that Bebo is catching up quickly to eBay as the most searched for brand in the UK. Since May, the term "bebo" has ranked #2 in the share of UK internet searches after "ebay", and Bebo's rapid rise is narrowing the gap. The market share of UK internet searches for "bebo" has increased more than three fold in the past six months and 17.6% in the past three months. The gap in the share of searches for "ebay" and "bebo" was only 5% in the four weeks to 30th September 2006, down from 25% three months ago and 80% six months ago.
They go on to reference the continued growth in online advertising reported by the UK Internet Advertising Bureau.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Engagement = brand ROI?

That's what the ARF and AAAA want you to think. A very astute post by Scott Karp on how the two orgs are using the term "engagement" (you hear it everywhere) as a euphemism for figuring out the return on investment for brand advertising. He writes:

Several factors have combined to put pressure on the billions of dollars spend on traditional brand advertising — TV above all — to demonstrate “engagement” (i.e. what’s the ROI of all that money we’re spending?):

1. Mass advertising of mass brands is dying
2. Audiences are fragmenting at an exponential rate
3. The share of media time spend online is rapidly growing
4. Online video has arrived
5. Google has made billions on direct response advertising, finally realizing the promise of the Web to revolutionize advertising ROI measurement

So the problem I have with the working definition of “engagement” — “turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context” — is that it obfuscates the real issue:

How much so companies profit in the short term and/or the long term from the billions they spend on brand advertising?
In other words, show it to me on the P&L statement!

Good stuff.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Wal-Mart's hubtastic flop is dead

As I wrote back in July, Walmart's attempt at creating a social netwok (The Hub) is so pathetic, it hurts.

After just 10 weeks online, it is gone. What a waste.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     1  comments

Stutzman: Selling social networks

Fred Stutzman does a bang-up job describing the current and potential ways that social networks make money.

1) Ads - or, the interestingness problem
2) Product affiliation groups - or, the non-scalability of affiliation
3) Partnership Opportunities - or, limitations of partnership
4) Micropayments - or, the selling of value
5) User payments/gatekeeping fees - or, the virtual country club

1) Exogenous or alternative markets
2) Brokering of trust
3) The negotiation of community

Miss this one at your own risk.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

$16.92 billion

AdAge has released their annual list of the top 100 media companies.

Internet and cable led to a 6.6% increase in 2005 U.S. media revenue for the top hundred companies. Internet contributed $16.92 billion from advertising and subscription fees from 14 companies, up 20.5%. That compares well to the anemic 2.6% growth of cable (which  was up 11% last year) and the 2.1% growth in newspapers. Magazines did ok (up 6%).
The ultimate distribution system will be the internet, if it isn't already so. It certainly has the eyeballs. The medium contributed $16.92 billion from advertising and subscription fees from 14 companies, up 20.5%. Ad Age does not count internet retail transactions in its totals.
Here's the PDF "Family Tree" of  the Top 15 companies.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Universal McCann's new digital divide

The research team at Universal McCann has published a new study, "The New 'Digital Divide', How the New Generation of Digital Consumers are Transforming Mass Communication."

Not the most earth-shattering report, but there are some interesting numbers. The report's key conclusions are:
  • The internet has become a new way to socialize
  • Blogging is the "voice" of a new generation
  • File-sharing is commonplace and hints at the direction of things to come
  • Social interaction is outpacing other emerging media types
  • Despite the rapid growth and popularity of online, TV remains popular
The emphasis of the report is on the emerging technology gap between the 16-34 age group and the older segments of the population and the younger generation's growing use of non-traditional platforms for entertainment, news, social interactions, shopping, and other daily activities. Highlights include:
  • The age group 16-34 is 25% more likely than ages 35-49 to use instant messenger, with over 75% of ages 16-34 currently using at least one service.
  • About 40% age 16-34 belong to a social network site; this is twice the percentage of 35-49 year olds.
  • Nearly 40% of are16-34 have met someone face to face after meeting on the Internet.
  • Yahoo, AOL and MSN Messenger are among the top Internet services in terms of awareness and use by ages16-34.
  • This is followed closely behind by social networking site, with 43% of 16-34's being current users. In comparison, only 16% of 35-49's are using Myspace.
  • 71% of the 16-34 year olds have participated in a blogging activity.
  • The 16-34's are three times more likely (25%) than those 35-49 to manage and/or write their own blog.
  • While personal and family/friend are the most common types of blogs among the younger group, more than 40% are developing photo and pop culture (music/film) blogs as well.
  • One third of 16-34's have participated in peer-to-peer file sharing compared to just 12% of those 35-49.
  • Thus far, just 10% of 16-34 year old heavy Internet users say they have used IPTV and only 14% have used voice over Internet protocol.
  • When asked which information source they would miss the most, television came out on top, with 27% of 16-34's and 29% of 35-49's saying they would miss this medium the most. "Websites" were a close second.
  • There are still low levels of usage and intention to use RSS feeds, with nearly half of our sample unaware of what they are.
Besides typical agency buzzword bingo (like this gem from David Cohen, "Accountable engagement innovation is the battlefield of the 21st century..."), the report is a nice primer for those in need of some good numbers and a snapshot of the market. The PDF is here.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

A bit of Bjork

Late Monday. Working away. A Bjork track plays on iTunes, and I remember how cool the Stéphane Sednaoui video is. So, I zap over to YouTube, and voila. Satisfaction.

Anyone who thinks this is a fad should get a grip.

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Monday, October 02, 2006   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

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