Sunday, September 30. 2007
We have long argued that Facebook (and other social nets) needs to be more nuanced in the way they handle "friends" of different shades. It looks like this is now happening.. Lets hope that one can also define different functionality per friendship group.
It will be interesting to see if the your status as to type of "friend of X" is visible to you, we have no conclusive proof but suspect that it is better to make it possible to be fairly invisible, since as humans we tend to manage the nuances of our relationships quite subtly. Making it clear that one is a "less favoured friend of X" may make on sever ties, or - worse from Facebooks point of view - lose interest in the whole thing.
On a related note, this post by Donna Bogatin on Facebook's ability to make normally sane men swoon is very funny.....
Saturday, September 29. 2007
Until recently my worst Skypespam was a Latvian "Escort" who started a call in the middle of a presentation, but now I've had variations of this note below over the last few weeks - if you have too, don't click on it - its spam, scam and potentially malware:
WINDOWS REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ATTENTION
ATTENTION ! Security Center has detected
malware on your computer !
Microsoft Windows NT Workstation
Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0
Microsoft Windows 2000
Microsoft Windows XP
Microsoft Windows Win98
Microsoft Windows Server 2003
Impact of Vulnerability: Remote Code Execution / Virus Infection / Unexpected shutdowns
Your system IS affected, download the patch from the address below NOW!
Notes from the Skype Forum from one of the comments:
I have found it hard to block the users as they keep on using new addresses - ie classic spam tricks - as another commentator notes:
Advice from another commentator - good advice anyway:
If the spam messages are coming from unknown users, then the only solution is to block messages from unknown users.
As Yogi Berra would say, its deja vu all over again - but it is sad that this sort of abuse happens.
Postscript - a different angle on the Skype P2P network conundrum is recorded here, looking at teh problems with using P2P systems in 3rd party networks.
I noted in an earlier post that one of the other things that hit me at ad:tech was the myths mobile operators tell themselves about mobile advertising. Tip of hat to Doc Searls on the Project VRM list who pointed to this article in Business Week - an excerpt::
A mini-marketing machine - I can't think of anything less likely to succeed! Its a communication tool, thats its job. Insofar as Ads help in the communication they will be tolerated, but to usurp comms as just another way to serve Ads seems to be putting carts before horses.
Thing that got me about this stuff at ad:tech and to a lesser extent at Mobile Web 2.0 is that these mythical narratives (aka use cases) were trotted out over and over again and yet all the research I have ever seen says people - even PAYG customers - hate to be intruded upon by Ads on mobile phones, unless the "value transfer" is very significant.
Blyk is now hoping to make a business of this - good luck, but it will take a very deft touch and a lot of listening to feedback we think.
(Disclosure - we too have done some work with mobile advertising startups, and the lessons of what works and doesn't can be very counter-intuitive)
Friday, September 28. 2007
A fascinating short story by Cory Doctorow over here....here's an excerpt:
He hugged her back, suddenly conscious of the way he smelled after a night of invasive Googling. "Maya," he said, "what do you know about Google and the DHS?"
Google TV is different...it watches you
.....move over Jennifer Government
This was the day 2 keynote speech at ad:tech, had very little to do with ad tech as such but it was quite interesting. Stephen Attenborough, CEO of Virgin Galactic gave a talk about them. For those who don't know, Virgin Galactic is using the advanced composite spaceplanes designed by Burt Rutan (see picture) to build a space tourism /satellite launch service (they say the endgame is an out of atmosphere based transport service). The argument is that these new materials offer an order (or two, or three even depending on what estimates you believe) of magnitude cost reduction over today's space technology
Space Ship One
As well as cut-price Space Opera, the Green gods are called upon - this is all a Good Thing since (i) the carbon footprint (and cost) is much lower than rocket based satellite launch, and (ii) because if the planes fly outside the atmosphere there is less pollution. The point was made that the first space race was lost as it was hard to justify money to go into space rather than more mundane things...but if it's Green, well...
Stephen also noted that IT is now the largest user of energy on the planet and in fact future expansion of the 'Net will be limited by energy, not bandwidth or processing power.
There is only a tenuous connection between ad tech and space opera, but I found it quite fascinating - my first degree many years ago had a large Aeronautical engineering component, and it was in the early days of the use of composite materials in aircraft design. My second degree was largely about LAN/WAN networks (of which the DARPA net was one of many competing approaches) and small computers (they were called microcomputers, not PC's in those days). Two embryo technologies starting off at the same time
The thing that hit me was this - when I look at the speed at which PC based internet engineering moved from those days, compared to aerospace. Burt Rutan has been a fairly lone voice in the use of composites, its only recently that the new Boeing has used them, showing - after 20 years - initial mainstream use.
Its interesting to think about why one industry has embraced its new technology, while another sat on it for 20 years. Its clearly not money - Rutan and co have kept shoestring skunkworks going over the years. When I asked Stephen why, he thought it was due to low fuel costs keeping aluminium based technology viable.
I don't know...if the economics of composite are so extraordinary as claimed now, it should also have been attractive years ago. I suspect its more to do with a combination of problems in driving innovation in more mature industries, plus the risks of failure - you certainly can't innovate with "perpetual betas" models with things that can fall out the sky and kill people.....still, it gives pause for thought.
(I was part of the generation who believed in space travel, as Stephen notes - it was the children of the 80's and 90's who had those dreams strangled, so it's good to see it back on the agenda. I recall seeing the snail-like pace of aerospace development as an undergrad back then and deciding to put my future in IT and networking)
2 thumbs up to the organisers for this sort of talk - a fascinating story, told well always has a place. And 2 thumbs up to Virgin for doing this - it's great copy I'm sure, but its also the sort of innovation pressure that Aerospace clearly needs. Whether its sustainable for Virgin when the big boys start to take Composites and inner space travel seriously remains to be seen of course.
(btw, 2 thumbs down to the arrogant TV crew that hustled Stephen away while people were trying to talk to him after his session and insisted on interviewing him in the short break between talks, rather than afterwards, thus ensuring no conversations could happen. Old media thinking at its best....)
Was going to write up my Future of Mobile Web 2.0 (Part IIb) from the Informa Mobile Web 2.0 Conference today, but this spat that broke out earlier this week sets the scene:
From Scott Karp comes the anti-mobile polemic - in essence he argues that the mobile web is a mug's game - here is a summary (I've cut quite a few bits out, go to Scott's page to read the full thing - but the gist is here):
Quick to the aid of Planet Mobile comes one Russell Beattie, who responds that in essence Scott is a moron because:
This exactly sets the scene for what I want to write in my next post - the wide gap of expecations between Planet Mobile and the Web community . Scott has roundly been criticized for not having an iPhone, which definitely improves the performance envelope of mobile devices as far as the web is concerned (and has a bigger screen), but in essence his criticisms largely stand even then.
The reality is that:
1. Relative Mobile speeds are getting worse.
Mobile bandwidth speeds are not going up as fast as the Web. When 3G started it was about 380 Kb/sec, the broadband 'Net was c 500 kb/sec. Now my broadband is 8 Mb (Ok, more like 3 really) but my 3G is only just touching c 800 kb/sec - and thats in the UK. That makes a very noticeable difference
2. Public WiFi is still a scam, but getting better
It's still expensive, there still are not a lot of hotspots, and free ones are like hens teeth - but it is getting noticeably better and cheaper
3. Sites are not formatted for small screens
True - and the reason is that the demand so far is still pretty low, the standards are not agreed so that rendering on any 2 phones (or same phone on 2 networks) is often dissimilar - ie its hard to do and not a lot of people are screaming for it yet. Speak to anyone who is not a mobile geek about their mobile internet experience, and you will get some variant of "I tried, but its too hard / takes too long / is too fiddly / etc so I gave up". Planet Mobile, those are your customers talking - call them f*ckwits all you want, but poking the people who pay you in the eye is not a sustainable long term strategy
4) Mobile Device screens are too small
Yes - the iPhone size one is only just big enough for basics, probably needs to be a bit bigger still. Not a 20" VGA, but probably iPhone size minima (+ 20%?) will (imho) be about the endgame. I am very interested in how mobile screen glasses will be used to make up for some of this.
5) Ads get in the way
True, and there are 3 reasons for this:
Also, the correct ratio of "value exchange" - aka bribery - to watch Ads on a mobile is still an area of huge experimentation, and there is likely to be a wide variety of difference by country, demographic etc
Over the last few weeks we have been doing quite a few interviews of industry players on the future of mobile multimedia and been to a number of new media conferences - telco, media, mobile and ad industry ones - and I would say that by and large most of the non-mobile players would agree with Scott, and Planet Mobile still has a tendency to think like Russell.
So we will expect more denial from Planet Mobile for a while longer, but money talks eventually however, and at the moment the customer ain't buying, so something needs to change. Mobile multimedia right now is always the thing that will be big next year.
The Mobile Web is a different medium to the fixed internet Web and will probably be different in its look and feel, much like all new media starst off "like" the ones before and then develop their own "voice". I think Scott's point re what bits of the CostCo website he wants when on the move is illuminating and tallies with our experience. Our own view is that in the early days anyway it will be best used as an adjunct service to a richer web experience, with a focus on things that mobile does better - location based, on the move based applications.
And that leads smoothly on to the next piece, the Future of Mobile Web 2.0 - part II
Postscript - nice take on the handset issues here
Thursday, September 27. 2007
Following on from a day in an Ad tech (see earlier post below) conference - from Read/Write Web
The big news at MSN Video is that the site has embraced a "Time on Site" traffic metric that's sure to represent the future of advertising. Neilsen announced this summer that they are replacing page views with time on site as the primary web traffic metric. It's widely acknowledged that AJAX and online video are making pageviews less and less relevant all the time. While other sites (like YouTube and MySpace) keep pumping out the pageviews and trying to figure out how to best run ads - this new MSN Video site has hit on a formula that will likely represent the video portal of the future: AJAX powered video playlists, including recommended videos, that do not require new pageloads and are monetized by time-based advertising.
3 minutes sounds very short judging by what we were hearing today, but in the US they do get more ads with their TV so are maybe used (inured?) to it.
This was actually the old Soapbox beta, but as the Guardian's Jack Schofield notes:
Wednesday, September 26. 2007
Was at ad:tech London today and will be there tomorrow - we are doing some client work and it was a good place to meet some of the people we are interviewing, so I am going to the talks where I can too. I'll just note some things that were highlights for me in the sessions I was at - as I was not in all the sessions all the time, these are not complete views.
Keynote - Alan Rutherford - VP Global Media, Digitas
Most of the stuff discussed was fairly well known in the interactive ad community, but Alan did have some thoughts on the impact of "Web 2.0" technologies on marketing - aka "marketing 2.0" and emerging lessons from how it needed to re-engage with consumers in terms of:
- Pop Culture - talk to people about their lives, not just what you want to flog 'em
Agencies and Digital Technology - Strategic Vision
Aka "how to get further up the greasy pole if influence" - the point was made that the "tech" bit of Advertising is having far higher levels of executive engagement today, but this is short term and will recede again when it becomes part of the mix (The panel members are on the website linked to in the first paragraph above, will fill in later when more time allows it). The only way to get higher up the food chain is to make a bigger impact - eg make inroads into China.
In reality online Ads so far are just a new branch of direct marketing, but "filmic" media over broadband is genuinely a new medium.
Mobile Advertising Ecosystem
Japan and Korea, with end to end standards in the value chain and high capability handsets are light years ahead ( see our recent post here on this matter). In the west we are left scrabbling with low bandwidth, low interoperability, lousy economics etc etc.
There are emerging "opportunities" like location based services, vouchers, mobile TV (the same ones as last year....) - but a lot of work still has to be done to wotk out how to advertise so as not to annoy customers and create compelling ads. There seems to be a large gulf between what mobile advertising players think will happen and what research says users will actually put up with.
Another big message - need to build audience first, then monetise
TV & Entertainment - Strategic Vision
The industry is undergoing a shift as the separation of content production and distribution accelerates, driving the requirement to operate across multiple platforms and for many parts of the value chain to have to understand the Ad driven model much more closely (many have not been exposed to it, Sky noting that 2 years ago online advertising was part of the marketing mix, now its part of the distribution mix).
There is still huge experimentation with what sort of Ads work on various screen sizes and lengths of media, and in Social Networks, and some areas which are allowed in movies (like product placement) are still not allowed on TV. There was a worry expressed that players like Google are way ahead of regulators - and thus regulated players.
TV is not going away anytime soon, but will need to look hard at its value delivery models
Social Networking & Community sites - Strategic Vision
Quite a lot in this one, needs a more detailed post really but in essence 70% of "the conversation about the brand" is people talking to each other, 30% with the brand. Advertisers have to have a reason to be in a community, can't just mouth off - need to contribute to the raison d'etre of the groups they want to converse with, and actually bring something to the table. Can backfire on insensitive companies, for eg in Netherlands communities are uniting to resist things like large out of town supermarkets.
Overall though, in all the presentations one theme came back time and again...metrics. The industry just has not sorted out the online metrics it needs (and believes). This needs a post on its own, will do one after Day 2 tomorrow
Blimey..no sooner does one finish a post on Amazon's Music play, than along comes Sam Sethi with another one about Facebook ramping up an IM clent. That sucks all the last of your directories into Facebook then....
Wonder how long it will be till they set up a VoiP play?
Or a Facebook version of Twitter (Flitter?) for that matter.
Amazon has played IBM/Microsoft to Apple's..well, Apple in the Web Music space - and launched the MP3 version of the iTunes value chain in beta....must say I was quite impressed with the selection that was on it, its quite far off main stream America (or UK for that matter)
Key structural feature of interest is no DRM. It's going to be really hard for any DRM based play from here on in.......
Big picture though is that this plays out fairly typically in 3 main phases in a new industry in our space:
Web Music is going into Phase 3, we are in Phase 1 in Web TV, and (in our opinion) moving to Phase 2 for mobile multimedia with the iPhone providing the shock to that value system.
It's also been picked up by GigaOm over here
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