Wednesday, February 21, 2007

HGTV Gets It: They're Launching a New Social Networking Site

From ClickZ, one of the best search engine marketing news sites out there, comes the announcment that HGTV is launching a new social networking site called Rate My Room.

Several months ago, I was a part of a conference call with someone I wont name, but he has a fairly popular show on TV that relates to DIY related home improvment. As a part of the conversation, we had a conversation about his target audience, their behaviors, their habits and more importantly, how he could connect with those users on his site. While his site wasn't bad, it had a few videos, it had a lot of great content and he wanted to take his strategy to the next level. I told him about social networking, creating features on his site to submit content, submit videos, vote on projects, add their expertise and even create a wiki of sorts to be a reference. The call went well, but over and over he expressed doubt about letting his viewers participate on his site. He was completely uncomfortable with giving his users that much control over the content. He eventually decided not to go in that direction.

Now, here comes HGTV, they're launching Rate My Room. One of the brilliant things about this move by HGTV is that they have a ready and willing audience who would love nothing more than to interact with each other, giving advice, comparing projects, rating their rooms and household projects. I think it's brilliant. If HGTV adds some expert or celebrity designer interaction within the communities, that could only bring more people to the network.

I truly believe that social media and networking is just one of the ways the internet will change the ways people live, the ways people interact and the ways that marketers and companies communicate with their audience. I really enjoy the fact that the internet has evolved to such a degree that the power of the individual, combined with the voice of their network can influence an industry like marketing, which has for so long, tried to tell the consumer what to do. Marketers have always said that the customer ruled, but only recently have consumers actually felt the power of "ruling".

Pageview is Giving Way to New Metrics and it's About Time

MarketingVox, one of my favorite marketing sites has an excellent article about page-view becoming obsolete as a major metric for site success.

This is an issue I've been very passionate about. While page-views are important for determining part of the overall site metrics, I personally feel that in the new era of social media, social networking, social sites that combine different technologies like Ajax and Flash, it's becoming less and less relevant and important. Steve Rubel's article about page-view is a brilliant description of how other aspects and other metrics are becoming more important.

One of the aspects of the Web 2.0 mindset is to have users interact with the website. As more and more people spend more time online, companies are finding ways to encourage user interaction. Sometimes this happens on a single page, other times it's browsing. With the Web 2.0 mindset, page-view is less descriptive of the behavior of the users.

In the past, we looked at page views as a way to see where people are going on a website, we can see them migrate from the homepage, to the category page to the product page and finally to the checkout and purchase page. This linear model is becoming less and less relevant in socially based sites. YouTube and MySpace rely on people to bounce from profile to profile, video to video and interact with the elements on the page. This creates less of a linear pathway and more of a meandering pathway.

Steve Rubel describes tracking "events" as a more important way to look at analytics and user behavior on a site. He makes an excellent point that page-views and even unique visitors don't account for multiple monitors, multiple windows or in Firefox (I would assume) multiple tabs. As I write this post, I have 9 tabs open.

He makes an excellent point that I completely agree with:

Time Spent

With the rise of online video and other rich media, marketers also rely on time spent to measure attention. This is a good metric and it even holds as people interact with embedded video and widgets on whatever platform they choose.

Unfortunately, time spent fails to capture the most engaged users who like to peruse RSS feeds. For example, I subscribe to multiple RSS feeds from the Wall Street Journal but I only click through on those that I want to dig deeper. Still I spend up to 10 minutes a day with my Journal feeds and over an hour a day overall within my Google RSS reader. That time is not accounted for - at least by the Journal, but certainly by Google. There's the dilemma

His conclusion is that the more we track events and time spent, the more accurate the data is going to be to determine user behavior, site value and overall marketing efforts.

Right now, the industry still values some of the more traditional methods of determining and interpreting metrics, but I agree with Steve Rubel. There's an analytic shift that corresponds with the new way of internet marketing and Web 2.0 that current habits dont fully describe.

CrossEngine: Searching the web from one place

CrossEngine looks like a very interesting tool for hard-core researchers who desire aggregations of information with as little wasted effort as possible. CrossEngine takes a simple query. For this case, I'll use the term "iPhone".

The first thing I notice is that the default search is going to Google, it's appropriate and retrieves the same results as a regular Google search. I can then look at the results in any of the other search engines, traditional, blog or even fine tune my desired results to .pdf or .ppt.

I switch the focus to looking for iPhone images, and it gives me choices from Google Images, Picassa, Flickr and several others.

The concept is sound, it's interesting and while it's been done before by other sites, this one is by far the most comprehensive search aggregator I've seen. The power in CrossEngine is its simplicity of concept and the time saved when doing comprehensive cross platform research and searches.

The critiques I have is that while this may never really catch on with the casual searcher, this is a good tool to any competitive intelligence professional, marketer, interactive marketer (just to list a few) to get good information in a short amount of time. The second thing I like about this site is that it allows people who aren't familiar with some of the lesser known search engines or social media sites, it gives users a chance to experience something that they haven't seen before.

I do however, have a few critiques.

My first exposure to the site was a bit confusing. Take a look at the screenshot below:

I'm a huge fan of usability and design... the layout, the green check mark, the overall look and feel didn't inspire a lot of interest, it didnt guide me where to go or what to do. While I could have clicked the "learn more" link, I'm a firm believer that any site should be intuitive... the user should instinctively know what to do within 8 seconds of landing on the page.

In my humble opinion, it's a powerful and useful service that hides behind a somewhat wonky design.

Now, I know that a lot of people are going to hate the fact that the entire thing is using frames. From my perspective, it seems that this aspect is more of a necessity than anything else. I cant link to any of my searches, I cant show people the results I've found and I found that a little annoying because I do it so often with other engines. When I'm preparing detailed analyses for my clients, I often cite sources. With CrossEngine, that's not really possible unless I go directly to Google or Flickr and repeat the search.

If I were to change anything, it would be that feature... or at least have a button where I could download the source link from CrossEngine.

Overall, I like the idea, I think it has potential and I plan on using it for my next analysis. If I find anything really useful or cool (or annoying), I'll post that later.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Fractal Blogging Strategies

Freaking hilarious.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 Launches Today - Social Networking for Social Causes launched this morning. It's a social network that promotes networking, communication, and non-profit support. This is a great idea that has needed to happen.

Having worked and volunteered for many non-profit organizations, I know that the plight of the fundraiser can be a fairly difficult job. It takes long hours, lots of research and of course, all forms of networking. The stress is high, but when you can see the efforts pay off, it's worth it. boasts support for over 1 million non-profits, which is amazing at launch. This will allow people to enter in and immediately find what they're looking for and hopefully instantly connect to people who want to affect the same change in the world.

Here's a screenshot of the homepage:

There's nothing about this site that I dont like, the social issues are listed in a familiar format, the statement asks the user a question... absolutely brilliant.

One of the things I've always heard about the internet is that it has the potential and power to affect positive change... and looks to be on the forefront of applying social change, social networking and all the best aspects of Web 2.0.

Prior to my current job, I worked in Psychological Operations for the US Army. During peacetime, we worked very closely with humanitarian organizations that promoted de-mining efforts in Southeast Asia. One of the more powerful aspects of this site is that people can gather around a similar issue like Banning Land Mines.

It's something that I'm passionate about and it's something that I've done in my life to make it a better place. On's Ban Land Mine page, users center themselves around an issue, upload videos, upload personal stories and recommend non-profits. For the land mine issue, there's no non-profits recommended, but for the issue of protecting a woman's right to choose, people have recommended Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights. This is a powerful tool for people to talk about an issue, meet like minded people, network with activists and connect with non-profits. only takes 1% of the donation to each non-profit. This is an amazing tool for people and non-profits to benefit from social networking technology.

One of my critiques however, is that the issues involved arent that well developed. There are all the hot issues, but a search for "science education" or "evolution" doesnt result in any groups. They ask me if I wanted to start that group, but I would have liked to see some of the more minor issues represented. But honestly, all that is minor because it's the first day of launch and there's going to be gaps in the causes.

I hope they succeed, it's a great idea at the right time.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Wal-Mart... WTF Is a Firefox?

Good 'ol WalMart... Wally-World... the crawling chaos of the western world... has entered the digital movie space to much hooplah.

Good for them, they take an idea thats several years old and say "me too".

Nevertheless, I'm sure it took a long time to work out the legal issues, the technical issues, design issues and all sorts of great stuff.

So, can someone tell me why they never even bothered to check their site in Mozilla Firefox?

Here's what it looks like in Firefox:

I've never been a huge fan of Walmart and it's gaffs like this that remind me why I never go there or shop on their site. Ever.

shoutout to Techcrunch for the heads' up.

Google's Webmaster Tools Enhance Backlink Information

One of the holy grails of search marketing is to capture backlinks. It's hard to find the quality ones, it's hard to get some good (I hate the term) link bait, and it's hard to develop a backlink strategy that involves a ton of directories you've never heard of before.

Now that Google's added backlink information as a part of its webmaster tools, people like Matt Cutts and Andy Beal are reiterating the following:

- Do not assume just because you see a backlink that it’s carrying weight. I’m going to say that again: Do not assume just because you see a backlink that it’s carrying weight. Sometime in the next year, someone will say “But I saw an insert-link-fad-here backlink show up in Google’s backlink tool, so it must count. Right?” And then I’ll point them back here, where I say do not assume just because you see a backlink that it’s carrying weight. :)
So, if you can assume that viewing more backlinks that may or may not carry any ranking weight is inherently a good thing, the first question I had was what's the point? Why would Google add the links that they would essentially consider to be dren, when a simple will actually give me some of the links that actually lend weight to the ranking relevance.

To tell the truth, I havent exactly figured it out yet. I'm not sure what the real value is, but I do know that the more data revealed, there's a potential that more useful revelations can be made, however, it also carries the potential that data-overload and perception blindness might set in.

I'm definately going to play with this for a while and write again on how it can be turned from raw data into actionable intelligence.

A Vertical Search Engine for Coders: All The Code

There's been a lot of speculation about vertical search engines. Some think that vertical search will be the Google killer, others think they're ultimately doomed to fail under the giant footprint of the big 3.

Nevertheless, innovation is at the heart of the industry and it's good to see another vertial oriented search engine enter the field. All The Code is geared towards coders. However, it has a little bit of competition in the highly niched and specialized area: Koders, Krugle and Google Code.

Search Engine Watch has a great article about the launch of All The Code -

All The Code at this time is a source code search engine for the Java language only. Plans are in the works to add more languages later. All The Code has no mechanism for submission of code. This too is promised for the future. It looks like there is a lot of development still to do.
Visually, it's a little bland, it's a little pale... but it's not offensive and it's not annoying. I dont want to go off on the look and feel on All The Code because from the looks of it, it's got a pretty powerful result engine under the hood. Like all new search engines, it's pretty obvious they need to do some more work, some more tweaking and some more enhancements to the engine to include more than just JavaScript code, but once they start adding more coding languages, I think they have a great opportunity to give coders and coding students what they want quickly and efficiently.

They have sponsored links on the right hand side and on the footer, and I hope that's not their only monetization strategy, but for such a niche search engine, it might work. However, I'd imagine that most people using All The Code will be looking for coding help, any purchases of coding software or services would probably go to Google.

I hope they do well, and I think they are off to the right start. I look forward to seeing what they do and how they improve their engine.

Technorati Slaps 2000 Bloggers

Earlier, I wrote about the 2000 bloggers project. It was started by Tino Buntic who had an idea to connect the bloggers in a photo collage.

However, Technorati didnt seem to like the idea too much. According to David Utter, writer for WebProNews, Technorati views the 2000 blogger project as a "scheme" to manipulate blog popularity. Timo himself came out and said:

"I guess Technorati is upset with me. That doesn't feel good, now. Anyway, I got about 1700 on my collage. I don't even know if I should finish it. I'll take down the code to repost it."

While I liked the idea, the interactivity, the creativity of the project and I admire Timo for getting this started, I think what's happening here is Technorati ascribing "intent" in the project. In other words, just because it could be potentially viewed as a link farm or manipulation of the search results or technorati rankings, then it will be viewed as such. Technorati's hard line view on this practice is a little disappointing. It seems like they're throwing away the nature of the interactive social project because it's a potential manipulator.

The 2000 blogger project, while it did provide links to blogs, neither advertised itself as a way to capture links nor did it set up several image/ link collages and essentially limited itself to only 2000 blog participants. If this was a self perpetuating link farm, then I would have no problem with Technorati's stance. Unfortunately, it seems that the intent of the project was not enough to give sway to Technorati's staff who are closing it.

Oh well, links are like tools, they can be used to build and they can be used to destroy... they have the potential to do both. In this case, just because there was a potential to do bad things... they knocked it.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Doritos Ad - User Generated Video for the Super Bowl

One of the things I like about the Super Bowl is the mad rush and the pre-bowl ad buzz. There was a fairly innocuous ad with Kevin Federline (*shudder*) or K-Fed, imagining he was a rap star, when he wakes up, he's pulling fries out of some hot oil. Nationwide Insurance ran this ad, and of course, some people found issue with the idea of working in a fast food joint demeaning. This drew fire from restaurant groups.

Another ad from Snickers featured two guys mimicing Lady and the Tramp and accidentally kissing as they eat the Snickers bar from both ends. My friend Cord Silverstein sums that one up pretty well.

One of the ads that I really enjoyed was the Doritos UGV ad:

It was simple, effective, funny and endearing. Plus, it helps that the creators of the spot were from Cary, NC... a wonderful place to live.

It wasn't over the top, and it communicated the brand very well. I think that this could really be the next big thing for advertisers, tapping local talent, brand loyalists and aspiring directors to generate positive buzz (in the form of video)

Ten Ton Hammer Article Roundup: Beta Testing

My latest article about beta testing online games at LotRO @ Ten Ton Hammer.

Not too long ago, beta tests were reserved for a select few people who had connections, experience and a reputation for testing games, however, as MMORPG’s became more elaborate, more massive and more complex, gaming companies realized that they needed more people in the game to test various aspects of the game. They needed to see how massive amounts of people doing the same quests simultaneously would affect the stability, they needed to see how the server reacts when the population exceeds normal.
Read the full article at LotRO @ Ten Ton Hammer.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Grimoire for the Wizards of Search

SERP's & Searchers
A compendium of magical spells for the wizards of search and technology.

To the outside world, we are the mystical manipulators of magical energies that surround the inner sanctum of search. However, within our ranks, we are divided... the wizards of the white hat and the wizards of the black hat. We eternally battle to control the virtual domain of the everpresent Google, who was, who is and who will be to come, the Master of Past and Present.

There are powerful spells and arcane knowledge that we possess to channel the energies of semantics and the internet.

Level 1 Spells:

  • Summon Keywords: This ability allows the wizard of search to conjure up lists of relevant keywords. At higher levels, this spell allows the wizard to have a more focused and refined list.
  • Reveal Plugins: The legendary Firefox, unlike the Explorer has the ability to allow wizards to customize it according to their needs, during incantations, this can be helpful to give the wizard to see deeper into the site than normal.
  • Detect Spam: Upon looking at the page, the wizard will be able to spot non-sensical and repeating phrases that plague the site.
  • View Source: There is a hidden world behind all websites, the wizards of search are able to decipher the source and divine the hidden knowledge that it has.
  • Summon Directories: The search wizard can tap the energies and forces that flow from public directories. These energies enhance the site with a glow that the Search Gods recognize.
  • Spam Source: One of the first spells the wizards of the black hat learns, this allows the wizard to manipulate the search engines with repetative words. This ability could backfire however, as they could be banished by the Search Gods.
Level 2 Spells:
  • Summon Key Phrases: The wizard is now able to craft the summoned keywords into phrases that match the intent of the site.
  • Summon Title Tags: The wizard is able to manipulate the site's source directly and give it the ability to be named. Once a page or a site has a true name, the Gods of Search can properly identify it and give it its due.
  • Detect Redirect I: This spell allows the wizard to detect the simplest of redirects, the meta-refresh and the Java Redirect. Once the redirect is identified the wizard is able to channel the coding magic to put them in order.
  • Find Whois: The "Whois" spell allows the wizard to find other sites on the same IP, revealing other efforts of the black hat wizards.
  • Text of Invisibility: A higher level of the spam spell, this allows the black hat wizards to hide their spam with white on white text, text under images, spammed ALT tags and source code spam so that the users dont see the spam.
  • Shrink Text: Another black hat spell, this causes normal text to be shrunk past the point of legibility, yet still be seen by users and search engines. Another variation of the spam spell, it often causes confusion and anger in user behavior.
  • Summon Links I: A summoning spell more powerful than "summon directory", this spell allows the wizard to manipulate the words on the page to draw unsuspecting users to feel a compulsion to link to them. At this level, the user has a good chance to resist the urge, but each link adds more energy to the site.
Level 3 Spells:
  • Invoke User Intent: The wizard is able to determine the users' mind and use the keyword phrases to guide them along the path of their intent.
  • Summon Description: This spell combines the ability to charm the user into entering the site, while keeping the keyword integrity intact.
  • Summon Link Bait: The wizard is able to charm a massive amount of people into linking to their site.
  • Detect Redirct II: Upon detection, the wizard is able to see more difficult redirects and divine the type of them, 301 and 302 redirects become second nature to the wizard.
  • Summon Paid Traffic: By combining the energy channels of the search engines, the wizard sacrifices a small amount of their own vitality in exchange for traffic and the potential to gain a higher amount of vitality
  • Div of Invisibility: The wizards of the black hat are able to hide some of their spam spells in a div of invisibility, while it's harder for the search engines to catch, there is a chance that they will.
  • Summon Link Farm: Another black hat wizard technique, this spell summons thousands and thousands of links from other sites, these energy channels are less effective than the true channels, they provide a short term benefit to the black hat wizard.
  • Evoke Lesser Blogger: Once evoked, the lesser blogger writes about the wizard and hails their efforts in front of their own audience. Both wizards benefit from this spell... but it's also a double edged spell, there's a chance that the blogger will turn on the wizard and try to break him down.
  • Summon Lesser Industry Contact: There are many wizards of search, this spell allows the wizard access to speak with the industry contact over long distances, the incantations and help from the industry contact allow the lesser wizard to focus and potentially spark new ideas.
Level 4 Spells:
  • Behavioral Scrying: With this spell, the wizard can see into the minds of multiple users and allow them to create enchantments to attract more and more people. The users find what they want and share some of their vitality with the wizard.
  • Summon Links III: At this level, the links summoned are from high level wizards, institutions and other quality sites. There is a chance, that at this point, the summoned links will continually rise on their own.
  • Control Page Rank: One of the tools of the black hat wizard is to manipulate the very energy of the mythic page rank, they're able to use the forces of the search engines against them and create an illusiory page rank.
  • Decipher Analytics: This spell translates the numbers, graphs and percentages of the analytics portal into real information, when used with the spell behavioral scrying, the potential is limitless.
  • Invoke Keyword Campaign: The highest level of the keyword spells, the wizard can form a vast chain of keywords that focus on user intent and relevance into a grand unified keyword strategy.
  • Link Bomb: One of the tools of the black hat wizard, they're able to turn the search engines themselves into weapons. With the link bomb, the wizard can target specific phrases and force their enemy into a negative situation.
  • Summon Greater Blogger: Like the summon lesser blogger, this allows the wizard to connect with the powers of the other wizards. At this point, there is a low chance of failure since the wizard is able to effectively wield their powers.
  • Trade Show Teleport: A simple spell in actuality, but powerful in application. The wizard must be at a certain level to understand the concepts and applications of the trade shows.. the added benefit is that the material spell cost is usually paid by someone else.
  • Create Spell: At this point in the wizard's experience, they're able to see the interaction of all the mystical energies of the search matrix and can create their own spells to see if they work or fail.
Level 5 Spells:
  • Create Blog: With a vast amount of knowledge and experience, the wizard becomes a lesser blogger. Forging out into the search matrix and sharing ideas and thoughts, the wizard allows other, lesser search wizards to benefit from their knowledge.
  • Hijack Ranking: One of the deadliest and dangerous spells of the black hats, this spell allows a wizard to take away, without knowledge or consent of the search Gods, the rankings of their competitors and enemies. However, the danger of getting caught and forcing the search gods to change the search energies is high.
  • Pacify Client: Often times, those who the wizard deals with have unrealistic expectations of the limits of the search wizard. With cool logic and explanations, the wizard is able to charm the client into understanding the basics of the magic of search.
  • Summon Viral Links: The highest level of link summoning, the wizard invests a small amount of energy and causes thousands of users to create links for them... once summoned, the users pass along and cause other users to link. The duration of this spell widely varies.
  • Summon Named Blogger: The wizard, at this level is able to connect with and get a link from some of the demi-gods of search, Matt Cutts, Andy Beal or Jeremy Zawodny
  • Voice of SES: Gaining the voice of SES confirms your status in the search wizarding world. Hundreds and thousands of other wizards come to hear your methods, your insights and your spells. Often thought of as the highest level to attain before you reach demi-god status, the more you become the Voice of SES, there is no limit from where you can go.
  • Divine Competitor Strategy: The wizard is able to take all the spells, components, tools and scrying methods to divine the strategy of the competition. With this look into the actions of those against you, the wizard is able to create a counter strategy.

If you'd like to add to the wizards of search grimorie, just let me know and I'll add them.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Tagged With a Book Meme - Curse You Foseelovechild

1. Grab the nearest book
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
6. Tag 5 people

Here we go:
1: The nearest book is "Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design by Michael Shermer".

2: "This is the fundamental difference between religion and science. If you attempt to reconcile and combine religion and science on questions about nature and the universe, and if you push the science to its logical conclusion, you will end up naturalizing the deity; for any question about nature, if your answer is "God did it," a scientist will ask such questions as "How did God do it? What forces did God use? What forms of matter and energy were employed by the creation process?" The end result of this inquiry can only be natural explanations for all natural phenomena."

The following people are tagged:
Garrett French
Cord Silverstein
Stephen Ward
Randy H.

Now, make with the memes!

In-Game Ads Selectable by Users of Casual Games

Big Fish Games, with over 25 million unique visitors a month is planning on allowing their users to select which ads they want to see as they play their games.

Big Fish Games is a gaming site with hundreds of flash games oriented towards the casual gamer is owned by AWS Convergent Technologies. In order to maximize the revenue brought by the traffic and advertising click throughs are planning an opt-in system for advertising chosen by the people playing those games.

This is a smart move, not only do users select advertisements that they're interested in, and therefore more likely to convert upon, AWS/ Big Fish Games are getting valuable demographic and behavioral information from the users on the front end. Which will allow for more relevant and targeted advertisements.

According to MarketingVox, they've already secured Microsoft Live,, Western Union, Hoover and Walt Disney World as initial sponsors. This is not geared for the "hard core" or "nerd core" gamers, but the players who enjoy challenging puzzles and flash "twitch" games.

With this data, they can deliver contextual ads that enhance the experience of the user, maximize the conversion click throughs and allow the user to customize their experience, as personalization starts pervading through users' internet experience.

Most of the time when I mention in-game ads, I'm talking about PC or console games with billboards, or locations that represent real companies, or interactive objects like a bottle of Slurm that you can drink. The other kind of ad that is being looked at can be derived from your search and internet habits to deliver real time contextual ads into your game. As cleverly drawn from the excellent web-comic/ industry watcher site Penny Arcade. (Seriously, check them out, they're brilliant).

This kind of in-game advertising makes me a little nervous, not because it'll ruin the purity of dismembering zombies (an activity I heartily endorse), but because I am still not convinced that the companies engaged in the advertising will have the users' experience and best interests in mind.

Anyway, in-game ads are here, they're here to stay... lets just hope they do it right.

YouTubers Getting Paid, and a New Monetization Strategy

A little while ago, I wrote about some of the challenges of monetizing video. Undeniably, user generated online video (UGOV) is very popular and there's a lot of discussion about the legality, trademark issues, freedom of speech issues and ownership issues. Yet despite the details of UGOV, it remains a dominant form of media.

After Google acquired YouTube, there's been a lot of speculation to maximize the profitability, market penetration, user interaction and usability of the site. I have no doubt that of any company that would acquire YouTube, Google would probably be one of the few companies that could retain the philosophy of user generated and user focused content.

One of the steps to bring the users into a tempting accountability is the plan to share the profits from YouTube with the Tubers (potatoes?) I mean YouTubers... MarketingVox shares an article that, as Chad Hurley, the co-founder of YouTube says would "reward creativity" as the BBC News reports.

The fact that they didn't have to share the profit with its users most likely added to its success, which is measured in tens of millions of users. Now that they're going to change the monetization and revenue sharing model, it's going to have to split the profits with the uploaders. While the sharing details arent available at the moment, they say that they'll start rolling out the plans in phases over the next few months.

The second thing of interest is that YouTube is planning to roll ads before videos. While the plan for the video ads is to make them as short as possible, around 3 seconds, the details havent exactly been worked out.

Now, I'm not the guy who stands on the corner with a sandwich board that says "the end is near". But there's something about the second plan that bothers me just a little. The appeal of YouTube is that it's truly a user generated community that sometimes gets intruded by overly zealous companies who dont quite get the benefit.

If the balance is short ads for a little payout, then that might be enough. However, I think that there's something happening with YouTube that is chipping away a little bit from it's user focus. I mentioned before that UGOV is a feature and not an industry or a business model in and of itself and I think we're seeing that unfold now.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Google TV Beta Hoax - Too Bad Though, I'd Love It

From Google-Blogoscoped, they posted a video of how to get into Google TV's beta program.

They listed some of the creative ways that Google has engaged the community, some of the jokes they've done and generally, set the stage to soften the user's skepticality... then they drop the bomb.

This is the best kind of hoax, the kind that's almost believable, gives people what they want, and creates a fun buzz. Here you go, here's the video...

Defining Search Metrics: Search Engine Saturation

In my last articles about search engine metrics, I defined search engine presence as "the number of times a site shows across the search engines for a selected set of keywords". Next, I defined, explained and showed an example of search engine fluctuation as "the natural fluctuation of presence of the same selected set of keywords over time".

This time, I want to talk about the two types of search engine saturation. I'd like to defne search engine saturation as essentially "presence over the total data size". In statistics, the data size is represented by the variable "n". If the data size is a dozen eggs, then n=12. The data size of states in the US is n=50. In this case, we're measuring results over three search engines. "SE" = 3. If we included in the results, SE would equal 4. However, at this point, we're only measuring 3 search engines, Google, MSN and Yahoo!.

The next part is the total number of results tallied. Since we're measuring the top 15 ranks in Google, the top 10 in MSN and Yahoo!. With this information, we can calculate the total data size for any data capture.

n= (# of keywords) * (15 Google + 10 MSN + 10 Yahoo!).

in this case:

n= (3)*(35) = 105

To calculate the saturation, you divide each presence by "n" to get the percentage of the search engines the site occupies as a function of the entire marketspace.


SE Presence

SE Presence

SE Saturation

AVG Saturation




















































2.38% has a presence of 17, and divided by 105, the search engine saturation equals 16.19%, which represents the market share of the marketspace. This number will fluctuate as the results fluctuate. The saturation measurement is useful as a snapshot of the search engine space and a result of your campaign. However, what's really important is the trend of data. You want your presence to rise and you will want your average saturation to rise as well. The average saturation measures the health of the life of the campaign as the raw numbers of the presence fluctuate. In essence, it's a measurement that you can measure and quantify to see if you're doing well, or if you're trending down.

Each of these metrics have value in and of themselves, however, when taken as a whole, they start to give you a clearer picture of the life of the natural search campaign.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Lord of the Rings Online's Launch Gains Traditional Media Response

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, brought to life by Turbine Games is going to be released on April 24 this year. This is the first time that Middle Earth, the legacy that launched and inspired the entire fantasy movement will be available to thousands of fans.

There are two aspects of this release that I've found interesting. I would argue that 2006 was the year that MMORPG's (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) became prevalent in the eyes of the public, the news, investors, futurists... and as a rumor that's been circulating, even interesting to Google. Last year, we saw what was once really only noticed by those of us who have *cough* geekier *cough* interests, are being noticed by a wider audience and are gaining credibility within more communities. The watershed event, I would imagine, is when Blizzard Entertainment announced that their game World of Warcraft has over 7 million subscribers, even more recently, they announced that they just hit 8 million. There were figures released that reveal that MMO's represent over 10 billion dollars in world wide spend.

Now, it seems that more traditional sources of information are reporting on launches of MMORPG's. From the New York Times, to Fox News, there is a lot of buzz about this game that doesn't come from the gaming industry. I think that this combines the fact that the story of Middle Earth and the brave free peoples in it, is universal and loved the world over and the fact that MMO's are quickly becoming big business. While amongst the true fans of Tolkien's work, there is some worry and skepticism that the online version of the game will dillute Tolkien's story, I think that as more and more people embrace their digital lives, the art of other people will find themselves online.

In 1955, Tolkien began to worry his creation had become a “vast game” for some readers. This was not good, he wrote, even “for me, who find that kind of thing only too fatally attractive.” It seems that Tolkien would disapprove of his creation to be represented as a "game". However, I think that his use of the word "game" represents people who are taking his work as trivial, as mere fantasy and as something that, because it's not real, it cannot teach us anything valuable about ourselves. However, as we see science fiction, another aspect of the overall "fantasy" genre, we can see that often times, observance about the human condition can come from unlikely places.

This is what I think Tolkien meant when he worried that his creation was becoming a "game". In Turbine's MMO, they've assured the anxious, the excited people who love the story, that they're making the game reflect Tolkien's love, his detail and his message in the game. While there will be some departure from the canon, all the decisions that change the lore are, at least, faithful to the spirit of his work.

Back to the business of MMORPG's. When the game Star Wars Galaxies launched, there was very little response from the traditional media. The only outlets for information was from game related news organizations. However, because of the widely noticed success of World of Warcraft and Second Life, a launch that combines such a universal intellectual property and the timing of more media recognizing how big online worlds are, Lord of the Rings Online stands to have a significant entry into the MMO market. Time will tell if the players remain faithful to the game or if the skeptics will be converted... but at no other time has an online game gathered such an interest from the outlets that have traditonally ignored gaming (unless there was a scandal or controversy like Grand Theft Auto).

Following, is the preview of the game from Game Trailers' newly embedded player. Personally, I plan to be in Middle Earth with my friends, my digital friends and I plan to create my very own Fellowship.

Update: MarketingVox "The Voice of Online Marketing" has also picked up the launch of "LOTRO".