Archive for November, 2007

On the Road for 2 Weeks

Posted: November 20, 2007 in Uncategorized

I’ll be on the road for a couple of weeks on a photography expedition to Guatemala. You can keep up with our photo shoots at DivePhotoGuide.com.

The Digital Blur will be back on track with updates on the world of digital media & marketing upon my return!

 Until then!

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With a current valuation hovering north of $15 billion, Facebook’s positioning to back into that valuation will be an interesting unfolding of events, beginning with this week’s big announcement to agencies in New York. Facebook kicked off the beginning of a series of marketing opportunities that will either fly or flop. The social networks have started down a path that requires a focus on meeting the ongoing needs of both consumers and marketers. Now that both Facebook and MySpace offer targeted ads based on various degrees of consumer provided information combined with behavior, the mainstream social network ecosystem risks becoming cluttered, even if the ads are relevant. The contextual relevancy and layout of ads within profile pages will need to strike a serious balance between consumer acceptance and advertising effectiveness.

This is great news! This is what we’ve been waiting for folks. Let’s not screw it up!

As the #2 social network opens the vault of consumer data and the ‘social graph’ (the interconnecting digital relationships that make Facebook what it is), every move is being scrutinized by an industry full of microscopes. Even the very legality of Facebook’s move is being questioned.

The $15 billion question is: Does Facebook, the brand, have enough fuel to continue to be embraced by consumers for the social platform it provides , in exchange for consumers’ willingness for marketers to enter the ecosystem in a relevant manner?

Facebook will be living up to my mantra of making the marketer part of the experience, rather than an advertising message sitting on top of it. But it seems like we’ll soon learn if there is a point past which we can’t push the envelope in today’s social media climate. Let’s buy some Facebook SocialAds and find out!

The new targeting engine is dubbed Beacon. The data-driven media evangelist in me loves the concept. The service is launching with 44 partner sites, and basically allows users to share online activities including purchases, reviews, photos and CGM postings from any member site, on their Facebook pages, thus tapping into the power of consumer endorsements of specific products and retailers.

Launch partner include AllPosters.com, Blockbuster, Bluefly.com, CBS Interactive (CBSSports.com & Dotspotter), eBay, ExpoTV, Fandango, Gamefly, Hotwire, Joost, Kiva, Kongregate, LiveJournal, Live Nation, Mercantila, National Basketball Association, NYTimes.com, Overstock.com, (RED), Redlight, SeamlessWeb, Sony Online Entertainment LLC, Sony Pictures, STA Travel, The Knot, TripAdvisor, Travel Ticker, Travelocity, TypePad, viagogo, Vox, Yelp, WeddingChannel.com, Zappos.com, and a number of IAC brands, including CollegeHumor, Busted Tees, iWon, Citysearch, Pronto.com and echomusic.

The big budget, made-for-web series Quarterlife premiers this Sunday.  You have to “tune-in” to MySpace to watch it. Point your browsers to MySpace on Sunday night to see the first web series to potentially be picked up by a major network. An ironic twist to a week when TV writers are on strike throughout hollywood.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that “sources said Thursday that NBC is in talks to acquire Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz’s high-profile Web offering “Quarterlife” ahead of its Sunday debut on MySpace.”

MySpace will be running 36 eight-minute episodes, however, according to the Hollywood Reporter, ” When the series was announced in September, Herskovitz stressed that the duo were not contractually obligated to MySpace beyond the first four hours, and he expressed a desire for the show to be seen on other platforms”.

Interesting developments as networks and studios are continually trying to figure out the best ways to distribute and monetize web based content. Although the tail clearly wagged the dog in this instance, over time we won’t be able to tell the tail from the dog.

Something about the fact that Google’s movements continue to hit my radar screen both bothers me and enlightens me simultaneously. Merely one week after announcing OpenSocial, a Google driven collaboration to standardize a format for applications and widgets across major social networks, Google unveilsthe Open Handset Alliance, instantly shifting from a potential competitor of the wireless carriers, to an ally (killing rumors of a G-phone) – and instantly becoming an exponentially greater threat to Microsoft, the king of the desktop.

He Who Holds The Operating System…

The entire open source movement has been a slow and steady revolt against the old guard (Microsoft), and Google has been empowering an entire ecosystem of developers – gaining their trust. But is it truly open source? No, of course not. It is Google-driven- collaboration that may one day reach true open source status. The momentum however, may help Google tremendously as we shift more of our collective marketing focus to the mobile screen. The turf war just heated up a notch. The mobile device may eventually shift from being the third screen to the first screen, as bandwidth and experiences naturally improve over time. Google has already corralled most of the major carriers. Apparently they agreed with Andy Rubin’s description of the service as “all all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation.”

Android: Hopefully The Name Says it All

An android – a computer that is designed to look and act like a human. I guess it’s the best of both worlds. That a pretty big expectation to live up to. Then again, anything is better than the mobile internet experience we have here in the US. But Google has been on a winning streak lately, and I’m expecting this strategic mobile land grab to be well thought out, executed and cultivated with the prioritization of a major investment in next generation positioning.

The mobile platform needs a level of standards. I’m certain that the major stake holders won’t allow Google to dance unless we’re all having a good time, so I’d expect to see benefit for the consumer, the carriers, marketers, and the supporting mobile ecosystem.

Android will be released in late 2008. In the interim, have fun going through some of Google’s video based YouTube announcements, press releases. They really practice what they preach and set a great example for the industry – I am enlightened and troubled all at once. With great power comes great responsibility, and so far Google is taking the bull by the horns on both fronts. Kudos from a tough critic.

In a move that “Facebook’s” Facebook, and in the true spirit of an open source world, Google announced a collaboration with many of the leading social networks including LinkedIn, hi5, Friendster, Plaxo,Ning, and their own Okurt, to adopt the [Google driven] OpenSocial standard for applications and widgets. 

The NY Times reports “A person briefed on the plans said the sites in the alliance had a combined 100 million users, more than double the size of Facebook.” Apparently Facebook was invited to participate, but has yet to confirm.

This move brings us closer to the platform agnostic world that I rant about so regularly. The streamlined nature of this standard is exactly what appeals to developers and marketers. We shouldn’t have to worry about or selectively work within the nuances and differences among technologies that distribute our marketing messages and experiences between one channel and another. Ubiquitous distribution of content and applications should become second nature across digital sub-channels. In theory the standard brings us one step closer to that.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that I have been making one main prediction: That we will be moving to a platform agnostic, database driven, interoperable world where media and technology have merged. I think we’re getting closer…