Facebook Takes Over the World

April 26, 2010

Facebook is making sure that it becomes the hub through which all web interaction flows.  This week, at the f8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his new plan, Open Graph, which will allow Facebook users to turn any web page into a Facebook page.  The idea is to tie all the individual social graphs around different Web properties into one larger whole – presumably the user’s Facebook page.  If you can “like” any page, any product, any thing on the web at all, that essentially turns the entire web into a social network.  Facebook also introduced a toolbar that publishers can put at the bottom of their page to provide what Facebook Director of Platform Product Bret Taylor called an “all-in-one social experience” packaging the “Like” button, Facebook chat and friend list information. If you are on a web page that is new to you, you can see which of your friends have already been there. So the Open Graph will function much like a Pandora of the whole web – it will be the online memory of everything you like and don’t like in music, books, movies, products, etc.  This is a very big thing.  For marketers, it’s really a boon, because it provides a more interactive experience between businesses and their customers.  Here’s an example from eMarketer :

…someone could visit ESPN.com, “Like” a football player participating in the NFL draft, and then receive a notification back from ESPN (via their Facebook news feed) alerting them to what happened to that person during the draft. In other words, the “Like” option takes a familiar Facebook activity—in this case, clicking a button to become a fan—and gives it a much more wide reaching effect, one that extends to a brand’s Website or anywhere a brand’s assets exist.

But here’s the rub, according to Time:

The company has more than 400 million users, and implementing the ‘Like’ functionality requires just a few lines of code. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing the buttons and your friends’ pictures everywhere you go on the Web.”  The possibilities for extremely targeted marketing are endless, but the privacy issue could be a sticking point for many who are already dubious about Facebook’s privacy practices, or lack thereof.  While the “Like” button acts as an opt-in, you aren’t really going to have a choice about what happens once you click it.

At much the same time that Facebook revealed that it was partnering with Microsoft for their new Docs.com project, a web-based document editor enables  users to see, edit and share their written material with their Facebook friends.

So now, the whole web is your Facebook page, your documents are connected to your Facebook page – how about your clothing?  A new hoodie, called Ping, which is  still in the concept phase,  ais designed to allow the owner to customize gestures among friends. For example, the wearer might feel a tap on the shoulder when a comment is left on their Wall or be able to change a setting when a button is buttoned or zipper zipped. Says FastCompany – “Actions as simple as lifting or dropping the hood can be used to send status updates and messages on Facebook, with the potential to target certain groups of friends.”

With all this social media all over the place, literally, does the engagement that companies have with users really amount to anything?  Yes, says Nielsen (in a study with Facebook among Facebook users). The study found that ads with social media context, defined as “lightweight endorsements from friends displayed within the ad units,” increased ad recall by 1.6 times that of ads without the endorsements; increased brand awareness by 2.0 times; and increased purchase intent by an unspecified amount.

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Twitter Promotes Its Tweets – AKA Advertising

April 26, 2010

Remember Twitter? And how we were wondering, once upon a time, how it was going to make money?  Now that we’ve forgotten about that, Twitter came up with its long-anticipated plan to introduce advertising.  Although it isn’t calling it advertising, it’s calling it “promoted tweets”.  These tweets will show up when users search for key words that advertisers (or maybe they should be called “promoters”) buy to link to their ads.  But, as Peter Kafka suggests in MediaMemo :

“If Twitter only showed ads to searchers, it may have a very difficult time reaching most of its users.

That’s in part because Twitter’s search results are pretty lousy — if you don’t believe me, go ahead and try it yourself.  And it’s in part because Twitter isn’t a search engine — it’s a media company that will make money by rounding up eyeballs and showing them marketing messages.

That’s an important distinction, and one that Twitter itself has been loathe to acknowledge. But you can see it grudgingly accepting that reality now, as it moves to control more of its platform.”

Eventually, The New York Times says, these promoted posts will show up in the course of a stream of tweets, based on relevancy.

Meanwhile, Twitter has a new blog, which is a best-practices thing for media companies, so that journalists and other media types will know how to use it to its greatest advantage.

Have a Comment? Identify Yourself First

April 26, 2010

For years, news sites have allowed the public to weigh in on just about anything that strikes their fancy, and still remain anonymous.  But journalists are rethinking this option, and the New York Times says, more and more news outlets are requiring responders to register before posting comments. William Grueskin, dean of academic affairs at Columbia’s journalism school, says that

… a lot of comment boards turn into the equivalent of a barroom brawl, with most of the participants having blood-alcohol levels of 0.10 or higher. People who might have something useful to say are less willing to participate in boards where the tomatoes are being thrown.

He said news organizations were willing to reconsider anonymity in part because comment pages brought in little revenue; advertisers generally do not like to buy space next to opinions, especially incendiary ones.

Some publications solve this problem by policing comments before they get online, although most do not have the resources to do so.  Some think that the mere fact of requiring registration will weed out the most egregious ranters. But requiring an identity before you comment may be an easy transition for people  who are used to being personally connected to their comments and outbursts on Facebook and Twitter.

More New Journalism Models

April 26, 2010

As journalism changes in form and function, NewsLabs is launching a platform that will help journalists get used to online news.  The founder of Newslabs thinks that the future of journalism is around the “niche brands that are created by the journalists and writers themselves.”  NewsLabs will take applications for these branded niches, and then help the journalist build a site for the writer, host it, and  set up advertising and SEO.  In return, NewsLabs gets a cut of the ad revenue.  This is not like Demand Media, where writers get paid peanuts for turning out brief stories.  This is actual journalism, with reporters all over the world, a rigorous screening process, and equitable pay.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports, ProPublica, a nonprofit news gathering outfit has plenty of influential partners – like the Post, the NY times, the LA Times, USA today, Slate, Newsweek,etc.  Read the rest of this entry »

E-Readers Really Are Saving Magazines

April 26, 2010

Well, it won’t make magazine publishing extinct, that’s for sure, and it, as well as other e-readers, may actually end up being the saving grace that publishers hoped they would be.  A study by Mediamark Research showed that more e-reader owners read magazines either in print or online than their unconnected peers do – 91% vs 84%.  They also read more magazines. Whereas the general population reads 11 magazine issues per month, e-reader readers read 13 issues per month.  In addition,  e-reader owners value the magazines more than the average adult.

To bring that point home a bit, Zinio, which creates digital versions of magazines for publishers said that its Newsstand is the no. 1 free news app downloaded by iPad owners .  And it’s so far the fifth most downloaded free app, just behind Netflix, and just ahead of the weather channel. That was on then.  Today,  three weeks after the iPad’s launch, Zinio emerged as the number 1 free news app. This should bring joy to the hearts of magazine publishers everywhere.

Pandora Your Stuff – And then Measure It

April 26, 2010

Peter Gabriel has invested in a site called The Filter (for which he is the spokesperson),  which is like Pandora for your computer – it studies the music or movies you already have, and suggests other albums, artists or movies that are based on your taste.    It is available as a free download (www.thefilter.com).  The filter also acts as a partner to media companies who want to have a built in recommendation engine.  Recently NBC licensed The Filter’s technology for its own web sites  – Sony and Nokia also license it. How is The Filter different from, say, the well-touted Netflix recommendation engine, or Amazon’s?  Since it only works with digital files, it can tell whether you actually watched a full movie, or turned it off halfway through.  Originally, says Business Week, the service launched as a consumer Web site in 2008. It encouraged users to download a software application that sucked data from users’ Last.fm and Flixster accounts. It also observed what they did with their iTunes collections. Then the system took all that information and suggested movies and music. But it didn’t make any money until it started selling its services to media companies.  It should turn a profit this year.

ABC’s Free iPad App

April 26, 2010

We’ve been talking about the iPad primarily s an e-reader, but the advantage that it has over other e-readers is that it’s a full media consumption device.  So far, ABC is the only network to create a free app for watching its shows (with advertising).  And it has been, says the Wall Street Journal, a success.  In the first 10 days of the iPad’s existence, ABC’s app has been downloaded 205,000 times, which means that it was being used on about half of the iPads sold at that time. 650,000 episodes had been watched, and “several million” ad impressions were seen. Says the Journal, “the iPad app also includes links that let viewers buy episodes through Apple’s iTunes Store. The iPad app is part of Disney’s broader strategy of creating numerous legitimate — and revenue-generating — ways for consumers to access its content.”

Hulu Goes Freemium

April 26, 2010

The ad model is one way to generate revenue, and as has been suspected for quite some time, Hulu is about to test a subscription service starting in late May.  There will still be a free Hulu, the LA Times says,  for the five most recent episodes of shows, but a more comprehensive selection will be available for $9.95 a month.  Hulu has been under pressure from its owners, Disney, NBC and News corp  to start generating more than the $100 million in revenue it is making from advertising, and also to wean viewers off of the free model.

Commerce Dept Gets Into the Internet Privacy Act

April 26, 2010

In the wake of Google’s Eric Schmidt being chided by the government officials of 10 countries for failing to adequately protect the personal privacy of Internet users, this week the US Commerce Department started an initiative to look at how the privacy of individuals is being impacted by the Internet economy. The Commerce Dept. has formed what it calls the Internet Policy Task Force to explore “current policy frameworks, and ways to address the challenges of the new internet economy and society in a manner that preserves and enhances personal privacy protection.”   There will be a public meeting next Friday, during which The Commerce Dept hopes to hear from the public, academics, commercial interests, and organizations with opinions on the issue. The aim of this endeavor is to see whether current privacy laws “serve consumer interests and fundamental democratic values.” Policymakers and the president as well consider this an important topic and the goal is to provide the White House with advice, including possibly policy direction for the future, and the hope is that a report will be issued by early fall.

Apple Does Advertising. Take That, Google

April 9, 2010

With the launch of the iPad, there’s a lot of talking going on about how to do advertising on it.  Apple wants to get a piece of that action, and yesterday it announced a system that would deliver ads across all of its mobile devices.  the ad platform will be built into the new OS4 operating system that will be released this summer.  ClickZ says that Apple will sell and serve the ads (surprised?  Of course not) and take 40% of proceeds with the rest going to the app developer. At the unveiling, Steve Jobs said that his aim was to improve the quality of ads that are currently served up on mobile devices, particularly his, and make them more interactive, provided with greater “emotion” and becoming “mini-branded applications in their own right”.  Look out Google. Actually, Google’s purchase of AdMob, which is still going through FTC channels, is going to put them in direct competition.