Thursday, February 26, 2009

Online Ads: Even the Evangelists Turning Bearish

A lot of people criticize newspapers for just putting their stories
online, the same way they’d dummy them up on the printed page, rather
than really utilizing the two-way medium. I think you could argue the
same about the way many sites think about display ads. Too often it
seems a cat and mouse game where I’m chasing an ad around a page
looking for the close button so I can read some content. Sure, maybe I
look at your message more than I would in a banner. But it’s also
annoyed me enough that I will never buy your product. In many cases,
even a back-to-basics approach works better, as I wrote about in my
BusinessWeek column today that highlights some of the shockingly high CPM rates that un-high-tech email newsletters are getting.

Like so many things in the recession, it’s ultimately a good sign
that marketers are panicked. We might actually see some innovation here.

Article Link

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Paid Search Just Got Visual: SearchMe Launches AdView Beta (Free Ads For First 500 Signups)

What happens when you make paid search ads both relevant and visual? Searchme,
the search engine startup which presents results as a stack of
full-page previews that you can flip through, is hoping to find out
with the beta launch of AdView. Its first foray into advertising,
AdView is SearchMe’s version of AdWords, except that instead of selling
of paid text links it will be interspersing into its results clickable
previews of entire Webpages, videos, or other visual advertising.

Article Link

Monday, February 23, 2009

GumGum Adds B5Media, DailyFill To Its Image-Licensing Network

Image-licensing network GumGum is growing by leaps and bounds. Measured as an advertising network, it is now a Quantcast Top 100 site,
reaching 13.7 million people in the U.S. and 23.5 million worldwide.
More than 1,000 Web publishers are licensing images through GumGum,
which allows them to pay based on how many people see the image or use
them for free with embedded advertising.

Today, GumGum is adding blog network B5Media and gossip site DailyFill to its customer list. They join Glam Media, MTV, and Gawker. Sites that rely on celebrity pics particularly like GumGum’s model.

Sites contract directly with photo agencies, and GumGum keeps track
of who is using what images and how many times they are viewed. That is
what those Quantcast numbers are counting, thus GumGum acts like an ad
network for images. Typical CPMs (cost per thousand views) are $0.15 -
$1.00 per image for sites that opt to pay instead of accepting ads in
their images. This kind of licensing model makes much more sense on the
Web, where small sites want the same quality images as large sites but
don’t have the resources to pay the same rates.

Article Link

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tagging The Real World: Sekai Camera For The iPhone Is Alive And Very Cool

A total of 52 companies launched at last year’s TechCrunch50 conference. Five of them got jury selection prizes, there was one big winner and a very special crowd pleaser: Japan-based Tonchidot’s Sekai Camera, an iPhone app that presents tagged information in the form of a graphical layer over images in the iPhone camera.

Charismatic CEO Takahito Iguchi delivered a memorable demonstration,
making the audience go crazy by fending off questions of TC50 judges
such as Tim O’Reilly if Sekai Camera really works with the words “Join
us!” or “We have a patent!”. The reason for the skepticism: Iguchi’s
on-stage show mainly centered on a pre-produced video clip, not an
actual product demo. This left people wondering if Sekai Camera isn’t
just vaporware for almost half a year during which it seemed like
nothing happened. But today I saw the app is real and working - on an


Tonchidot organized an invitation-only event at an exhibition in
Tokyo today, showcasing a working prototype for the first time. Sekai
Camera’s basic concept is still intact: Use the iPhone camera to
overlay tags and information onto any object in the real world. Users
then need to look through the camera to see icons pop up that contain
information on buildings, stores, sightseeing spots or objects.

The prototype I tried out today was a bit buggy but worked as
promised, showing tags with information (sounds, pictures and text) on
other booths installed in the exhibition hall. Many people speculated
how Sekai Camera works technically. The answer is simple: The user’s
location is identified through GPS (no cell-tower triangulation or
image recognition technology is being used). As the iPhone doesn’t have
an internal compass, the direction of where the viewfinder is pointed
at can’t be measured: Users need to flick fingers left or right to find
relevant tags that are around them (as demonstrated in the video I took
below). Tap a tag and the information it contains appears in the form
of a window, for example a picture with a comment box below it or a
voice message someone left earlier.



Tonchidot today showed they were rightfully chosen as a TechCrunch50
finalist. Sekai Camera is incredibly cool technology even though the
prototype version didn’t look as flashy as the previous one shown on
video. For a massive land grab, Sekai Camera will have to come up with
a viable business model, achieve a critical mass of tags to make the
app worthwhile and optimize the technology.

But Tonchidot is working on it. Iguchi said he is in talks with
companies interested in contributing commercial tags that could contain
anything from ads, coupons to product information for a fee. Tags are
also being scraped from various web services such as Yahoo Japan’s Wai Wai Mappu
(a community-style map information service). But Sekai Camera also
needs user-generated tags - lots of them. While a compass built into a
future iPhone model might solve the directional alignment issue, GPS
within buildings will most likely remain a problem for quite some time.
(For tagging the exhibition hall today, locations were measured through
Wi-Fi signals an external service called PlaceEngine provided.).

According to Tonchidot, Japan will be covered with social tags
first, followed by the rest of the world. Asked when Sekai Camera will
be available for everyone to buy, Tonchidot fellow Masayuki Akamatsu
told me: “In 2009, sometime when it’s warm!”. We will stay tuned.

Article Link

Friday, February 6, 2009

Where Do Mobile Ads Work Best? On the iPhone!

Seeing Ads

  • One in ten mobile phone users in the U.S. used a
    location-based service such as a map, friend or restaurant finder in
    Q4, 2008. The 25 - 34 age group saw the highest levels of interest in
    this type of offering, with 22 percent penetration. 
  • One
    in seven mobile phone users visit a mobile Web site, the second most
    popular response; this rises to one in five for iPhone users

Recalling Ads

  • iPhone users are four times as likely to recall LBS (location-based service) ads as non-iPhone users.
  • 33 percent of mobile consumers recall seeing mobile advertisements this quarter, compared to 41 percent of iPhone users.
  • One in three consumers that recall seeing a mobile ad responded in some way; this rises to one in two for iPhone users
  • While
    men and women are equally likely to recall mobile advertising, women
    are 85 percent more likely to respond to ads than men

Responding to Ads

  • Calling a toll free phone number published in the ads is the
    most common means of response; iPhone users called twice as much as
    non-iPhone users
  • One in seven consumers reported buying a
    product or visiting a store as a result of seeing a mobile
    advertisement; for iPhone users, more than one in four bought something
    as a result of seeing an ad
Article Link

MySpace Begins Monetizing Music Videos With Impressive Results

In an effort to monetize the growing number of music videos on its site, MySpace
has just launched a new pilot advertising initiative that places
attractive overlays at the bottom of some clips, allowing users to buy
the song they’re listening to or immediately jump to the artist’s

The new initiative stems from MySpace’s partnership with Auditude,
a content detection and management company that can identify
copyrighted content and serve relevant advertising, even on
user-submitted video. Now Auditude is applying the technology to music
videos, which in the past have largely relied on banner ads and static
text links to music stores for monetization.

On Wednesday the site, in a partnership with Warner Music Group, placed
an overlay ad on a video for My Chemical Romance’s cover of Desolation Row.
Users were presented with the option to buy the song either on Amazon,
or (in an interesting twist) on a vinyl disc. Over the 24 hours that
the ad ran it posted an impressive 1.2% click-through-rate
(significantly higher than rates seen on typical banner ads),
encouraging MySpace and Auditude to expand the program to more videos.
Today the site began displaying advertising on U2’s new single Get On Your Boots, with plans to expand the program more broadly in the near future.

Article Link

Online Ad Revenues Pick Up In The Fourth Quarter.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Stake Your Claim? Technorati Opens Goldrush-Inspired Tag Directory

Technorati has just launched a new directory of ‘tag’ pages, offering brief overviews of a variety of tech-related topics. Tag pages range from broad subjects like ‘internet’
to individual companies, with each page offering links to relevant
articles, blog posts, user-written summaries, and related topics on
Technorati (in some ways the pages are reminiscent of Mahalo’s
topical overviews). Unfortunately, while these tags could eventually
serve as a handy glossary to the web, it seems that in an effort to
quickly build up content Technorati is openly inviting users to submit
articles that are less than objective.

Article Link

Monday, February 2, 2009

How Software Entrepreneurs can be Successful Presenters to Investors

Some general, presentation-at-large, dos and don'ts.
  • Do
    challenge yourself to deliver an 'easy-to-understand' story. Could I,
    your listener, replay to another person the very basics of your venture
    and how your target customers will benefit from using your product?
  • Do infuse passion throughout your delivery. Engage me with your story.

  • Do focus on the benefits to customers of acquiring/using your
    product. Does it simplify? Make-money? Save money? Open new markets?
  • Do differentiate your business in some way from the competition - market channel, service, technical features, etc.

  • Don't give me unclear, irrelevant, or unnecessary information.
    It is extremely important to your success that you winnow the full
    amount of information into the particular subset that is required for
    this presentation. If you are concerned about leaving out 'necessary'
    information prepare a more detailed slide for the Q&A period in
    case it comes up.
  • Don't try to impress me with a lot of jargon.
Article Link

Google: "We're Not Doing a Good Job with Structured Data"

    During a talk at the New England Database Day conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Google's Alon Halevy admitted that the search giant has "not been doing a good job"
presenting the structured data found on the web to its users. By
"structured data," Halevy was referring to the databases of the "deep
web" - those internet resources that sit behind forms and site-specific
search boxes, unable to be indexed through passive means.

Google's Deep Web Search

Halevy, who heads the "Deep Web" search initiative at Google,
described the "Shallow Web" as containing about 5 million web pages
while the "Deep Web" is estimated to be 500 times the size. This hidden
web is currently being indexed in part by Google's automated systems
that submit queries to various databases, retrieving the content found
for indexing. In addition to that aspect of the Deep Web - dubbed "vertical searching" - Halevy also referenced two other types of Deep Web Search: semantic search and product search.

Google wants to also be able to retrieve the data found in
structured tables on the web, said Halevy, citing a table on a page
listing the U.S. presidents as an example. There are 14 billion such
tables on the web, and, after filtering, about 154 million of them are
interesting enough to be worth indexing.

Can Google Dig into the Deep Web?

question that remains is whether or not Google's current search engine
technology is going to be adept at doing all the different types of
Deep Web indexing or if they will need to come up with something new.
As of now, Google uses the Big Table database and MapReduce framework for everything search related, notes Alex Esterkin, Chief Architect at Infobright, Inc.,
a company delivering open source data warehousing solutions. During the
talk, Halevy listed a number of analytical database application
challenges that Google is currently dealing with: schema auto-complete,
synonym discovery, creating entity lists, association between instances
and aspects, and data level synonyms discovery. These challenges are
addressed by Infobright's technology, said Esterkin, but "Google will have to solve these problems the hard way."

Also mentioned during the speech was how Google plans to organize
"aspects" of search queries. The company wants to be able to separate
exploratory queries (e.g., "Vietnam travel") from ones where a user is
in search of a particular fact ("Vietnam population"). The former query
should deliver information about visa requirements, weather and tour
packages, etc. In a way, this is like what the search service offered
by Kosmix is doing. But Google
wants to go further, said Halevy. "Kosmix will give you an 'aspect,'
but it's attached to an information source. In our case, all the
aspects might be just Web search results, but we'd organize them

Yahoo Working on Similar Structured Data Retrieval

The challenges facing Google today are also being addressed by their nearest competitor in search, Yahoo. In December, Yahoo announced that they were taking their SearchMonkey technology in-house
to automate the extraction of structured information from large classes
of web sites. The results of that in-house extraction technique will
allow Yahoo to augment their Yahoo Search results with key information
returned alongside the URLs.

In this aspect of web search, it's clear that no single company has
yet to dominate. However, even if a non-Google company surges ahead, it
may not be enough to get people to switch engines. Today, "Google" has
become synonymous with web search, just like "Kleenex" is a tissue,
"Band-Aid" is an adhesive bandage, and "Xerox" is a way to make
photocopies. Once that psychological mark has been made into our
collective psyches and the habit formed, people tend to stick with what
they know, regardless of who does it better. That's something that's a
bit troublesome - if better search technology for indexing the Deep Web
comes into existence outside of Google, the world may not end up using
it until such point Google either duplicates or acquires the invention.

Still, it's far too soon to write Google off yet. They clearly have
a lead when it comes to search and that came from hard work, incredibly
smart people, and innovative technical achievements. No doubt they can
figure out this Deep Web thing, too. (We hope).

Article Link