Whenever we talk about video ads at TW the same objection, rightly, always comes up - where's the interactivity? Well, here's what may be a step in the right direction. Zachery Rodgers over at Clickz reports on Unitied Virtualities (what a wonderfully unusable site..) new product Shoshmosis (oh boy, it just gets better and better..):
Called Shoshmosis, the unit adds a Flash layer to any streaming video format, enabling users to roll over or click on individual elements within the frame. Marketers can apply it to repurposed television content, their own TV ads ported to the Web, or original Web programming.
It's not the first time a company has added Flash-based interactions to video. Amazon.com used the technology in the credits for a series of online films it produced in late 2004. But Shoshmosis is the first product to sync interactivity with moving objects in a streaming video.
So you get to chase objects round the banner ad and click 'em. Is that right? heh..
Calling Without Cellcos
Peggy Anne Salz write a compelling piece over at the Feature predicting embedded Skype and similar technologies in Mobile handsets this year - if it took off in a big way, it could kill the cellular carrier biz model:
With 52 million downloads and counting since its commercial launch in August 2004, Skype has clearly fuelled consumers' passion for free voice calls over the Internet. Estimated to carry 25% of annual VoIP traffic (as counted by TeleGeography), or the equivalent of 4% of total international traffic worldwide, the impact of Skype and other VOIP applications could put a serious dent in mobile operators' revenues.
The scenario for the mobile industry turns from bad to worse when Skype is embedded in a 3G phone or Wi-Fi-enabled device, and falling data prices offer users a much cheaper alternative to cellular voice. Indeed, one eager Taiwanese handset manufacturer recently wrote an open letter to Skype asking for the privilege to be the first to embed the technology in its 3G phones, leading many to believe such handsets will appear this year.
TV vet Braun reveals what's next for content at Yahoo!
In the wake of Yahoo goes to Hollywood here's a hhort but sweet interview with Lloyd Braun, Yahoo's new Head of Media over at the Hollywood Reporter - Yahoo's media model is exciting, and this interview puts some good perspective on what we may see coming from Y! over the next year or two.
On being pitched by Terry Semel (Y! CEO) for the job..
After 20 minutes, every bone in my body started to scream out, "I have to do this job." I didn't know what the job was -- all I knew was this sounded unbelievable.
Putting Yahoo! content on the map..
"The Sopranos" put HBO on the map. Milton Berle -- defining moment that showed what television can do. "I Love Lucy" -- defining moment of what a situation comedy could be. We haven't really had our defining moment yet as to the big breakout event that really shows the world and the consumer, oh my god, look what this can be. But we will.
and on the competition...
Google is now for me NBC, CBS and Fox all rolled into one. But the competition can be our friends. We have alliances with SBC, Verizon. We're going to have so many roles as this all evolves. It's an amazing opportunity to be involved in so many different businesses in a productive way.
So, the big news overnight was Amazon's A9 launching their Optical Yellow Pages.
The idea is that on top of the fairly standard way that online yellow pages work users can view thumbnails of the actual storefront, like the one above - but there's more: You can take a trip down the street! "Walk" to the left or right of the shop and view other storefronts to get a feel for the neighborhood. At first it seems (at least to me) a bit gimmicky but then when I thought about a bit more, perhaps not. Seeing a tatty disreputable storefront would put me off going to buy something but seeing a nice street with other interesting stuff might well make me want to visit - not gimmicky, useful. Follow the title link for more.
RFID Cell Phones? Maybe In 2007
Here's what vangorilla has been talking about so much in the TW mobile section
The Ministry of Information and Communication of Korea is exploring new business models combining mobile infrastructure and RFID. Their goal is to push the mobile RFID to commercial service in 2007.
Once RFID receivers are built into cell phones the possibilities are endless. For instance; buy a product off the supermarket shelf, the RFID tag will identify itself, and your phone can download the recipes associated with the product. It is a great technology; the only thing that worries me is the human branding implications. Remember 1984?
Chris Fillius has a nice review of the state of local search from a user perspecitve - taking into account that regular users could'nt care less where the data ultimately comes from. He takes a look at ASK, Google, Yahoo and MSN and, i think, provides a pretty neat overview of the current status of Local.
In his conclusion, which comes first rather than last he writes:
Google and Yahoo are my preferred choices, with Google being the slight winner because . Because I live in San Francisco and have so many other options for local information, MSN’s portal features, about which I will mention more later, are not particularly compelling. For other users, or for people from other cities, it very well may be different.
To provide more context, MSN is the only one of the four that is a full local portal. The other three are more search-based. So, depending on what you’re looking for you’ll want to use different ones (gee, what a surprise). I think Google offers the best search, but MSN’s browsing options could be useful. Yahoo stands out because they control their own data and in the long run that will set them apart. Ask didn’t really stand out to me in any significant way.
It’s interesting to think about the aforementioned strengths of each local engine because they accurately reflect each company as a whole. MSN is a destination company, Google is a search company, Yahoo is a destination/media company, and Ask is hanging with the others, but needs a little more oomph.
Now, i don't use any local search at all - but i would be interested in knowing what TW'ers currently think of it, opinions anyone?
A Shot of Intense Entertainment
Fox are to put out their next 2 shows via mobile - not repurposed for mobile, but, for the first time, a major Hollywood studio will develop dedicated content for 3G
Verizon will launch its VCast service early next week and is desperate for original content. The two series, Love and Hate and The Sunset Hotel, will consist of 26 one-minute episodes distributed via the VCast service, a new premium-content and video-on-demand platform that will cost Verizon subscribers $15 a month on top of their regular phone bills. It's the first time a major Hollywood entertainment company has committed resources to mobile-phone shows; until now most content available on phones -- such as sports clips or CNN broadcasts -- has been repurposed from broadcast television.
I rather liked 24 so were i a verizon subscriber i might be tempted to shell out $15 a month BUT - with those titles i fear the worst....
Idiot blogger Mark Jen is back.. sounds like he's altered a whole bunch of his posts but i've not looked yet...
hi everyone, sorry my site has been down for the past day or so. i goofed and put some stuff up on my blog that's not supposed to be there. nothing serious and they didn't ask me to take anything down (even the stuff where i'm critical about the company). i'm learning that google is understandably careful about disclosing sensitive information, even vague financial-related things. the quickest way for me to fix the situation at the time was to take it all down. now i'm back up. just so you know, google was pretty cool about all this. thanks for and sorry for the frenzy of speculation.
You know, there's a nasty, cynical little voice inside my head that keeps crying "Setup! it's a setup!" - this voice argues that PR is a funny old game and messin' with the blogosphere is *easy* - it's no real bad press for Google - but it's a hell of a lot of attention for them on a day when GOOG stock is downgraded...
Yahoo raised Google stands still
Forbes are reporting that Merrill Lynch have upgraded Yahoo! to buy from neutral whilst also lowering Google to neutral.
They go on to say:
we are more comfortable with Yahoo!'s experienced management, focus on free cash flow and diversified (and economic) business model. As such, we believe Yahoo! should trade at a premium to Google. Further, we think Yahoo's growth prospects are superior.
Health CIO is RFID-Enabled
Wow, when i read Gibson's neuromancer i thought it'd be quite a bit longer before we started seeing chipped implants in humans. Engadget had this to say on the above story:
While privacy advocates grumble about the potential for abuse inherent in the new tracking technology, Halmaka, CIO of Boston’s CareGroup Healthcare System, has gone ahead and gotten himself chipped — for science. Halmaka’s VeriChip carries a 16-digit ID number that can be matched to a medical database, allowing doctors to scan him and pull up his records (we’d prefer to do it the old-fashioned way, by handing over our insurance card, but that’s just us).
Betfair to build a Yahoo Betting Exchange
The BBC are reporting on news that Bet Fair, a bet exchange service that competes with convential bookmakers for punters money, is to enter a cobrand deal with Yahoo UK & Ireland. Betfair technology with Yahoo brand.
UK online betting exchange Betfair has signed a deal with Yahoo UK and Ireland, extending its betting platform to a mass market audience.
This is an interesting area as betting exchanges are not currently (though changes are occuring) licenced nor taxed in the same way that bookmakers are.
An example being this stat reported from The Register
online exchanges paid just £7.3m in tax last year despite taking bets worth more than £2.67bn. This compares to £376m paid by bookmakers on bets worth £30bn.
Chill, blogophiles; you're not the first to do what you're doing
Wonderful piece from Kevin Maney in USAToday downing the nauseating hype and constant dribbling about everything and anything about blogs.
But in the tech industry, hype is like a basic food group. Something is always going to change the world overnight: 3G wireless networks, interactive TV, artificial intelligence. If it won't change the whole world, you work down to the smallest applicable unit: "Our software will revolutionize dietary supplement knowledge management aboard ships at sea." Or some such thing.
Blogging is similarly the latest revolution — e.g., it's not. Which, in a way, makes it cooler.
Today, software tools make it cheap and simple to post personal journals on the Web, so more people do. "I wouldn't underestimate how much of this is driven by the tools," says Jonathan Weber, the former editor of the defunct Industry Standard, now starting a blog-infused Web site about the Rocky Mountain region.
Blogs and the reasons they exist have historical antecedents.
Take Luther in the early 1500s. About 60 years before, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Before that, only the church and governments could afford to reproduce and manage information, keeping a lock on ideas and power. The printing press gave Luther a way to distribute his thesis — an early version of blogging. Next thing, we had Protestants.
It's no secret that all this teen mania everytime some dumbarse throws up a few lines on a website annoys me, i read the blogs (currently upward of 250) to keep in touch with what's going on in my fields of interest but bloody hell, if i read one more sodding "so and so has a blog!" i swear im gonna puke...
Good news for US mobile marketers
Adverblog have the scoop on a new report from Frost:
revenue in the US mobile marketing market was worth $11.5 million and it will reach $69.3 million by 2007. The report, "An Insight into the United States Mobile Marketing & Short Code SMS Markets" reveals that to further enhance customer response, mobile marketing companies must work toward achieving greater synchronization in a comparatively extended value chain that includes advertisers, platform providers, connection aggregators, and mobile operators.
Its not much, but the comments about bottlenecks in the progression of mobile marketing caught my eye in particular - why is it that the very people and companies that should be creating wonderful new tech and exciting biz opps are also the ones stifling progress? - i know there are easy answers to that question but buggering hell, it's just such a damn shame..
So what are you reading these days?
Interesting piece in Tech Review on Rojo Networks (hmm.. nice site..), a year and half old startup headed by Chris Alden who founded Red Herring that plans to use it's Rojo aggregator tech to link feeds in a social networking environment.
San Francisco’s Rojo is one of dozens of RSS aggregator companies. Like some of its competitors, Rojo has an RSS feed search function and gives readers the ability to flag stories they find important or interesting. But in enabling users to draw on the insights of friends, family, colleagues, and others in their social networks, Rojo departs from most of the competition. Rojo users can invite others to sign up for Rojo accounts; those accounts are linked, much like the accounts on the popular website Friendster. Rojo users can see what RSS feeds the members of their networks are reading and which stories they are flagging. Network popularity also affects the ranking of results when the user searches RSS feeds. “We all depend on our community for content discovery,” says Chris Alden, Rojo’s cofounder and CEO. “Any successful media service has to tap into that.” [Disclosure: Technology Review’s editor in chief worked for Alden when he was CEO of Red Herring.]
As rafat notes, the important question is if users will start new social networks to discover feeds when they probably already maintain networks at places like Friendster...
Is it when you hear an advert during the breakfast show on a commercial London radio station for a PPC management company?
I don't know if this is worthy of TW news per se, but I do have some thoughts on it so decided to "blog it" rather than submit a thread.
I listen to the radio pretty much all day long. My station of choice isn't music based but a news and talk show based format. Whilst this is common in North America it is rare in the UK. There was a try at starting up the talk radio genre in Blighty by Talk Radio a few years ago, but even they changed their format and became sports focussed, now calling themselves Talk Sport.
Anyway, I listen to LBC and during the breakfast show, with the wannabe shock jock Nick Ferrari over the last few days I have heard an advert for Top Position a PPC management company that his this to say about itself.
Top Position specialise in helping businesses of all sizes to increase the effectiveness of their Google AdWords campaigns by improving click-through rates while reducing costs. This is achieved using an approach based around developed, highly targeted campaigns which provide Google users with the results they need more easily, while clients reduce overspend and improve conversion rates.
Now my thoughts aren't whether Top Position are a great or not PPC company but has SEM hit the mainstream. I have never heard an advert on the radio nor seen an advert on the TV before promoting SEM.
I would be VERY curious to hear from someone at Top Position about the effectiveness of their radio advertising campaign and why they, rather than their competitors had the big balls it took to make the decision to utilise this route to the business execs stuck in the London traffic jams.
Googler Blogs About Work
This is most certainly not fact, though there's more than enough smoke to suggest a fire...
Late yesterday evening (for me), blogoscoped reported on a new blog by some Google employee - one Mark Jen. He'd written a whole bunch of posts about his new employment at GOOG and they were, shall we say, less than discreet:
"Look at all these other fringe "benefits": on-site doctor, on-site dentist, on-site car washes... the list goes on and on with one similarity: every "benefit" is on-site so you never leave work. (...)
Google definitely has a program that is on par with other companies in the industry; but since when does a company like Google settle for being on par? Microsoft's health care benefits shame Google's relatively meager offering. (...)
Lastly, Google demands employees that are 90th percentile material, so what's with the 50th percentile compensation? The packages would've been decent when the company was pre-IPO, but let's be honest here... a stock option with a strike price of $188 just doesn't have the same value as the ones of yesteryear."
Upon waking, i find that Mark has deleted all of his posts.
We know GOOG read the search blogs so did they put the kybosh on Mark's unfortunate indiscretions?
Added: Getting lots of IM's with links to Y! caches - add them as comments if you find others...
uh oh, what happened to my bank account?
global sales conference - google style
Information Wants to be Liquid
Straight out of the madness that envelopes everyone that thinks too hard about information occasionally comes this concept: It's like hypertext on steriods, and just as confusing as the analogy.
Froge Heglund of liquid information who works with Doug Englebart at the University College London's interaction center has some truly unique ideas on the next stage of the internet and how information should/could be presented and linked:
Hegland's idea is simple -- he plans to move beyond the basic hypertext linking of the web, and change every word into a "hyperword." Instead of one or two links in a document, every single word becomes a link. Further, every link can point to more than one place, pulling up all kinds of background context from the web as a whole.
Click on a politician's name and find out who donated to his or her campaign. Click on a town name in a news story and find out what else has happened there.
"We feel that a large part of the history of technology, digital and otherwise, has been about the production of information," Hegland said. "It's time to focus on consumption, to help people navigate through information and get relevant information into their heads."
You can see a working example here - just point your mouse over any non-linked word.
Hundreds of problems exist with this idea as pertains to "the internet" but i could see uses for doing this with certain kinds of data in certain situations - perhaps on a Wiki project, maybe on WIkipedia itself, but as the next stage of the internet? Nah...
What A Single Chip Phone MeansEmail This Entry
Dana Blankenhorn's been talking about the single chip mobile for a little while. Now it turns out that Texas Instruments and Nokia are to build phones based on TI's new single chip cellular solution.
Apart from being damn cheap - and being able, as a result to market to high growth markets like india and china there are other interesting things about single chip cellular:
But there's something else involved here. When cellular telephony is reduced to a simple chip, it can become an ingredient in anything else.
For instance. Let's say you have a golf course. You use a lot of water, but you waste a lot, too. Now, throw some moisture sensors out there and link them via one-chip cellular. The bandwidth needs are modest -- the sensor says "water me" or "turn off the water" as needed. Your hardware costs just dropped to the floor, and the system probably pays for itself on just a few months' water bills.
Anything that needs to be monitored, over a long distance, can now be monitored, and results transmitted, over a cellular link, because remember (in most cities) cellular is ubiquitous.
Imagine what this can do for farmers? They can monitor conditions in their fields in real-time, addressing concerns immediately.
Interesting stuff - can i have a cell phone in my mp3 sunglasses please?