December 10, 2006
Summary of Del.Icio.Us Highlights
Before we even get to anything relating to our topic - social networking sites used as marketing tools - I just want to mention something really cool on the del.icio.us account that will soon be the next big thing that people talk about -
Hamachi is a small, free program that tricks your computer into thinking that it's logged into your home network. All you have to do is install it on a computer on your network and give it a username and password. Any computer with hamachi can then access the network if you just provide the name and password. The really awesome thing here is that it is "zero setup," which basically means that aside from a password and a few clicks on your firewall, you don't have to do anything to set it up - it just sits there.
I use it for accessing my iTunes share from anywhere. Now I don't have to store my 50 or so GB of music on my laptop and I can still listen to it as though I'm still on my home network. You can also use it for gaming, file sharing, etc.
Now that's out of the way...
We love trying to figure out what's just ahead of the curve for social networking sites. That's why links such as this, this, and this were so interesting for us. The first deals with what could become the 2007 version of youtube (in our opinion, that'd actually be "youtube," but you can't fault people for asking the question), the second is CBS' deal with youtube (which we blogged on), and the last is the subject of the most recent entry.
Matt was most excited about the NHL deal and has three entries on del.icio.us devoted to it. As he worked in a team's marketing department, he knows the importance that the league places on expanding via the internet.
Networks giving their own shows MySpace pages was also pretty interesting and cool, with FX (under the Fox Network - Fox, of course, owns MySpace) leading the trend with their promotion of the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia page. (It doesn't hurt that the show is awesome, by the way.)
Oh - and in the show, the characters reference the fact that they've got myspace pages for themselves, and it becomes a main plot device in the 2nd season's finale. How's that for synergy!?
On that note, another thing we found really cool was the fact that youtube found a haven for politicans, and that for the elections, campaign videos were put up in their own little area of the site. This page shows all the candidates in a nice little list. We thought this was interesting at first, until we realized that by offering space equally to all candidates, youtube proved that it wasn't going to take sides or turn a blind eye if these commercials got uploaded as any other videos. Probably smart on their end.
Well, that's the best of the best in our eyes. Through the semester, we've seen a glut of articles pop up regarding the creative use of social network sites by companies looking for the next big thing. From the beginning when the NHL took the lead on partnering with youtube, to CBS' lucrative partnership with the site, to the last article that talked about the networks' desire to break and form their own ad-supported site, we learned a lot about the heads of marketing execs everywhere.
The main idea here is that these companies have to attach themselves to something quickly. If CBS didn't embrace youtube, its content would be put up there and CBS would see no ad revenue. If they requested youtube remove it, they wouldn't get the publicity. This works out best for them. Same for the NHL.
It's just a matter of time before something new and different happens. Networks are starting to put their own content on their own websites but it's still too complicated for many average users to figure out.
The first network to come along and provide a simple interface with a flash-based player that everyone can enjoy will really take this one, and frankly, we're surprised nobody has done it yet.
Topic Summary & A Network Sponsored Rival to Youtube?
This is a very conveniently timed news story, because we can use this story to sum up the developments in the "marketing on social network sites" topic while we attack the article. Hooray!
An extremely recent article out of Asia reports that multiple entertainment networks, including Fox, Viacom, CBS, and NBC want to cooperate to create an alternative to youtube.
The reasoning behind the deal, apparently, is so that these networks can cash in on advertisements that prior to this point youtube would take a cut of. In light of the developments to the topic over the semester, it seems as though this has some benefits, but suffers from drawbacks that are surprisingly not seen by the networks.
We can start with the good - viral video is where it's at right now on the internet. Youtube is getting millions of hits, google video is doing alright (though I still have no idea how they're positioning themselves seeing as though they own youtube also), and the networks are latching onto this. We blogged about a week ago about how CBS is really benefitting from creating their own channel on the service, in fact.
But we've already done a bunch of entries on why youtube is good for these groups so I'll skip to the bad.
First - how the hell do these networks expect to be able to work together? They represent 4 of the 5 top entertainment entities in the world (with ABC absent - which might not be a terrible idea) and as they normally compete for viewers and clicks, it is insane to believe that they'll be able to completely figure out the revenue-sharing aspect of this deal without a huge problem.
Second - youtube is not this incredibly ridiculous concept that required 1000 of the brightest individuals in the world to come up with. It is online video. It is popular because of a few reasons -
2) EVERYONE has flash - no messy codecs to install (I'm looking at you, Mpeg4)
3) Users can upload anything they want.
So you're taking away 3 - fine, CBS' channel is already very popular, so it's not a big deal. 1 and 2 though... How hard can 1 and 2 be to replicate? Honestly? With minimal HTML skills, someone like me could create a tasteful alternative to youtube, well branded (for a specific network), ad-supported, etc. Basically all the things that youtube has with the added benefit of being completely contained on the network's specific server with their logos.
Up to this point, I'd thought that the networks' websites were far too complicated to navigate and the videos too varied, codec-wise, to be enjoyed by everyone. Is this why networks are flocking to some other youtube-type service? I can't imagine why else they would be, seeing as though they already offer a lot of this stuff on their own websites.
Now, one of the first things we blogged about was the fact that the NHL partnered with google video (and subsequently youtube) in an effort to get content out to as many people as possible. NHL.com exists, so why would they want to branch out?
Because youtube had already established itself as a great place for short clips. Highlights, like that sick Alexander Ovechkin goal I posted earlier, were youtube's forte. NHL.com has an outstanding video viewer in its own right (if you don't use a Mac - it uses Windows Media) but it is more of a databank of game clips that aren't easily accessible one at a time.
NBC, for example, would be much better served to put its clips up on its own site, with its own branding, with its own ads, with no mention of any other networks, and frankly, I can't understand why that is such a foreign concept to them.
Marketers Create Social Networking Sites
Marketers have begun to realize that it is important for consumers to actually be able to be involved in their companies. Inspired by the success of sites like myspace, many companies have created their own social networking sites. Most of these sites allow consumers to share stories and opinions about their product/service.
According to an article on USATODAY.com , one example of these sites is Mycoke.com, where consumers can talk write about their favorite bands, listen to and play with music, watch videos, and get points that can be used towards Coke products. Some other examples are the USA network's where viewers can show their own "character", Nike's where sports enthusiasts can chat about sports, particularly soccer, Kohl's where people can talk about their passions, Kodak's where customers can create their own commercials, and HSBC where people can talk about news events. Basically all these sites are trying to spark interest in their product by providing a place for consumers to talk about things they're passionate about while being exposed to the brand's name. This is a great plan in theory, but one major issue is how the company monitors the site. It is very easy for people who dislike the company or product for one reason or another to come on the site and post negative comments which can then get circulated around the internet. Therefor, many of these companies strictly monitor what gets put on their site, but if they monitor too severely it can appear as though their product truly is inferior and that they are just trying to cover it up. This issue must be dealt with very carefully in order to have a strong marketing campaign.
Facebook Expanding to Corporate Social Networking
In April of this year, facebook expanded its social network to include several corporations. According to an article , they began with ten companies and one non-profit organization: Accenture, Amazon, Apple, EA, Gap, Intel, Intuit, Microsoft, Pepsi, PWC, and Teach for America. The facebook is using a method similar to when they first created the site for students where they only have it for a couple of companies first, then once people here about it and start talking about it they open it up to more and more people until just about everybody has it. They call this the "staggered rollout strategy". They also chose to start with leading companies from several different industries rather than just one, as well as companies that typically hire the best and brightest graduates.
The facebook is hoping for as great a success with this audience as students. However, it is doubtful that it will be since professionals tend to have fewer peers as college students, as well as less time spent socializing. It is also important that facebook try to keep the corporate branch as separate from the college branch as possible so that college students won't constantly be receiving messages from creepy old men. This exclusivity is one of the things that used to set facebook apart from things like myspace, and opening it up to the corporate sector may make some people lose interest in continuing to use it.
December 06, 2006
Mason’s article on online privacy brings up many good points about how information gathering may be bad for personal freedom. Based on his PAPA framework (Privacy/Accuracy/Property/Access), he concludes that changes to data collection must be made in order for Americans to maintain their dignity.
Let’s tackle each one at a time and see how it relates to what Amazon.com is doing with their personalized, targeted homepages.
Mason’s concern about privacy is relayed through a story about monitors in the bathrooms of a Florida school. There’s no question that this is an idea of questionable character to begin with – while it is understandable that you would have to collect some data to see whether or not a bathroom is worth keeping, watching people actually use the bathroom seems to be a ridiculous way to achieve that goal. That’s a true invasion of privacy. Amazon.com will look at previous searches and try to target products to the user that relate to them, but at no point does it do something in even the same zipcode of creepiness that the Florida school did. Frankly, we have no problem with Amazon holding onto that information as long as they do not share it (as they maintain that they don’t.)
Do we trust Amazon? Well, AOL did let its user search data hit the internet recently, but in spite of that, we do trust Amazon to keep our searches under wraps due to the horrible publicity resulting from AOL’s gaffe.
Accuracy doesn’t really apply to what Amazon’s doing – at least not in the same sense that it applied to the story of the bank in Mason’s article. The point taken from that is that computers are still operated by fallible humans.
Who’s property is the information provided to Amazon? Hopefully, just Amazon. We agree that Amazon’s service can help us by providing better targeted information, but if Amazon were to sell the information, they could cause a lot of headaches when more and more advertisers started bothering us.
Access to this technology isn’t such a huge deal when relating to Amazon.com either. While people who are connected (thusly probably better off to begin with) are getting better deals (because they can use Amazon rather than a brick-and-mortar), it makes sense based on the fact that Amazon’s costs – with no actual stores – are much lower.
In the end, Mason brings up some important points, but when it comes to online shopping, as long as the transaction is secure and personal data isn’t escaping Amazon’s clutches, we really don’t mind having our preferences tracked in the name of a better deal.
November 28, 2006
Youtube Pays Off for CBS
Not long ago it seemed as though networks and professional sports leagues were all trying to get their content off of Youtube, citing copyright infringement. Now, CBS is the latest large corporation to find success using Youtube as an advertising outlet.
Once you find CBS' channel (which is actually easier said than done as it doesn't appear immediately on the "channel" page and I had to actually snoop around for it), you might notice that it looks a lot like any well designed myspace page. The site, which is extremely well branded and laid out, features video clips from CBS' properties.
According to this earlier report, however, CBS will in fact take advantage of youtube's advanced content reporting system and will more than likely attempt to get any videos uploaded by general youtube users removed or transferred. This is because CBS shares advertising revenue with youtube whenever one of their videos is watched. Another option mentioned is transferring the clip to CBS' channel, which would preserve whatever the user captured as well as providing CBS with ad revenue. This is a much better idea than simply removing the video because while CBS does have clips of its most popular shows, nobody can really ever guess where viral videos are going to come from.
It seems to be a success - the clip below is one of youtube's top 25 most viewed, coming in with about 1.6 million viewers for the month.
The only question I have for CBS is why their content isn't more readily avaliable - maybe this is a youtube issue even moreso, but why is CBS' channel not listed on the "channels" page. It's not entirely a bad thing - by not playing favorites with CBS over any other user, you're promoting this sense of community, but at the same time, the CBS channel has some of the most content and still isn't really avaliable unless you're actually looking for it or viewing one of their videos.
November 27, 2006
A Useful Tool - Google News
I don't think there was ever any question that, for information searching, Google is one of the top sites on the internet. The sheer amount of pages they can crawl, the accuracy of their response, and the barren, quick-loading homepage really do help the user find information.
However, until this project, I had really not explored Google News to the fullest of its potential.
Google News is an aggregate of not only major newspapers, but technology sites around the internet. So, if, like me, you search for "youtube marketing," you might get a story from the Chicago Tribune, and you might also get a story from PC Magazine. It's that extra aspect that makes Google News so useful.
If you were to search Google itself for "youtube marketing," who knows what would come up and from where? If you were to search a database of print newspapers, you'd miss out on a lot of buzz from magazines or reputable tech websites. In a project such as this, where the information we're looking for is so deeply rooted in technology, sometimes print newspapers can be behind, or, even, reporting on stories that were previously reported on by bleeding-edge tech sites such as Engadget or CNet.com.
With Google News, you get the best of both worlds. Pretty much everything you're going to find there will provide you with some useful information - there isn't a lot of filler or fluff - and all the news is neatly aggrigated on the page, sometimes with a preview image.
For me, Google News has been far and away the most helpful tool that I've used to find information on marketing through social networking sites. It really shouldn't come as a surprise that Google can produce such a handy tool, but it is something that's not often used as people often times (me included) just use Google for what its front page provides - a simple yet almost too far reaching searchbox.
November 20, 2006
Search Tip: Live.com
With the release of Windows Vista just around the corner, and as someone that had a chance to get in the beta program, I was able to mess around with Internet Explorer 7 (a live update that somehow has still not found my XP install). There really isn't much to say about it - I'm sure it's better than IE 6, but I use Firefox, so the point is moot - but I was extremely interested in the default homepage that the browser directed me to -
As far as I know, Microsoft had a search engine similar to this in the past under the name MSN. I'm not entirely sure if it was more yahoo-esque (homepage and portal) or google-esque (minimalist search/advertising), but I do know that I never used it. With Live.com, it seems that Microsoft is taking a page out of google's book while adding a few interesting things of its own.
Most notable is the fact that you can customize the homepage with whatever content you'd like to see. It is nice, because it offers a happy medium between google's sparse layout and yahoo's incredible clutter. In fact, even with all five default subjects (including sports, news, basics, entertainment, and holiday) checked, the homepage does not become unusable at all, which is nice.
Another big addition is the "Q&A" section, which is basically what it sounds like. Instead of asking Jeeves (you could, theoretically, ask what happened to Jeeves), you can ask other internet users if they know the answer to your question.
I love the concept - though you have to question whether or not internet users are going to be entirely helpful. The other small problem seems to be a lack of knowledge on the service, as even a simple question (I asked "Who is Martin Havlat?" - the best player on my favorite NHL team and former employer, the Chicago Blackhawks) and the first result that came up was titled "Who is the best player in the NHL") was not answered 100% to my satisfaction.
Again, it shows a lot of promise, and Live on the whole is a major step up from what MSN was (probably) because I never (at all) found any reason to use it, whereas Live is an interesting alternative to google.
November 19, 2006
NHL Partners with YouTube
Over the summer, I had the unique opportunity to work for the Chicago Blackhawks in a marketing capacity. The Blackhawks are an NHL team with a problem: nobody in Chicago really cares about the Blackhawks. Once, yes, but now... Not so much.
A lot of what we talked about was how to market the game to the fans in an interactive manner. How could we get them in contact with the players in ways beyond the game itself or the tv broadcast?
The result was youtube. Could we somehow put our highlights on youtube to let internet users have instant access to highlights at nearly no (bandwidth) cost to us?
Well, as it turns out, the NHL decided to take that idea and run with it. In spite of resistance by Major League Baseball and the National Football League (and their decisions to force youtube to take their content down), the NHL has decided to let users see what the game has to offer, and can you really blame them?
How can you not be at least a little bit excited when you see something like that?
There's no question that this is a good move for a league that desperately needed to make one. NHL.com already has one of the best league websites for streaming videos (including every goal scored by every player this year, conveniently organized by the player), but by using youtube, fans can record and upload their own highlights or compilations, bringing them a bit closer to the game.
In addition, they've partnered with Google video (which, of course, basically owns youtube, so why it is different confuses me) to allow the streaming of full games to google video users. What remains to be seen is if people will pay for the games - which is allegedly the plan, but for right now it is a brilliant idea.
I wish the page would be advertised more heavily, but as someone that wants to see the NHL succeed in this, I'll take what I can get. In a few weeks, after they start charging, I hope to revisit this to see whether or not the idea paid off for google or the NHL.
For our topic, we've selected Social Networking types as Marketing Tools. Hopefully we will be able to look into companies that use sites like MySpace and the Facebook to promote their products.
October 26, 2006
Hacker Claims to Have Cracked iPod Restrictions
22-year-old Jon Lech Johansen claims to have cracked the code on ipod playback restrictions. Currently, music bought on itunes can't be played on any brand of music device besides ipods and music bought by other services cannot be put onto ipods. He believes that he has found a way around these restrictions, and is planning to have an unnamed company make music bought off other services to be playable on ipods.
Johansen became famous when he was only 15 by posting a software that unlocks the Content Scrambling System, which producers of DVDs used to prevent illegal copying. I think it is incredible that at only 15 and now 22 years old this young man has been able to hack his way into these systems which I'm sure that tons of people older than him have spent hours going over and over to ensure that nothing like this happened.
Obviously Apple is going to put up a fight and try to stop this from getting out, but Johansen has been speaking with lawyers and is fairly confident of the legality of his actions. When he hacked into the DVD system, he was charged with data-break in but was acquitted. It's hard to believe that something like this could actually be legal. Another thing I found interesting was that he has become a strong supporter of open-sources and believes that software code should be freely available for sharing and inspection.
October 24, 2006
Yahoo Looking to buy Facebook?
As advertisers seek new media, that is, something extremely new and exciting a year or so ago that hasn't yet been co-opted by advertisers, many large companies have turned to the internet. Some have experienced more success than others, but the interesting thread that we're starting to see is that it seems like the best ideas develop organically and not developed by the companies that end up owning them.
Case in point: MySpace. What started as a networking site for local bands has now turned into one of the hottest sites on the internet for just about anything. As of now, it is partly owned by Fox, who is using it extensively to promote its new shows, such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia or Prison Break.
And Prison Break's site doubles as an Ad for Toyota, which is, of course, featured heavily in the show.
This all brings me to the article in question. What is it about The Facebook that attracts Yahoo? And what is it about The Facebook that attracts Yahoo to the somewhat ridiculous tune of $1billion? (With a "b!")
Well, for one, Google just dropped that sort of cash to obtain YouTube (which, in my opinion, spells doom for YouTube, but I'll pontificate on that later.) In spite of any predictions of doom, YouTube does have a very Google-istic existence: its name is synonimous with its function, it is relatively simple, and it sucks down massive quantities of bandwidth a day. Oh, nevermind the fact that Google's own video application is failing and this will pretty much save that. (Maybe.) And having that asset on its side really does give Google a whole gigantic new userbase to which it can peddle its ads.
So for Yahoo, the answer has to be the large new userbase it can call its "ad viewers." But The Facebook offers so much more to Yahoo: it offers an extension of Yahoo's new marketing direction - the homepage tailored to you. They just redid their page and guess what - they're not just a search engine anymore. They've still got the functionality, but Google's got the marketshare. So with the acquisition of The Facebook (if Yahoo did it), they would effectively renew themselves in the eyes of many of their users.
At first I would have questioned whether or not the Fox acquisition of MySpace would continue to provide MySpace's users with a reason to use the site - after all, if it were way too commercial, people might be jaded by the whole thing - and on a site born from independant bands, this problem might have been compounded. But it seems like everything is going ahead without a problem - MySpace is still popular and Fox is largely out of their hair.
I think that The Facebook could have the same success if Yahoo were to buy it - as long as Yahoo left it largely unchanged (seeing as though Facebook's users seem to cry loudly and en masse whenever there is a change.)
...All from section 3. Group #81.
October 05, 2006
1. In spite if the security risks, do many companies use wireless networks in their workplace to accomodate employees with laptops? It seems as though wireless networks get a bad rap for being less secure and bleeding out into the open past your office's walls, but allowing users to bring their laptops in might allow them to be more productive.
2. The new wireless format, MIMO (or "802.11n") is in "draft" status. What does this mean, and what are the current shortcomings of wireless "n" that hold it back?
3. What is a dot-clock rate in terms of monitor specifications? My monitor just died and I had to go to CompUSA to get a new one, and I had no idea what a dot-clock rate was, or what number was desirable.
4. What are the advantages offered by 64-bit processors today or in the future? I see that they're prevalent in new computers, but at the current time, it doesn't seem to matter whether you have one or not.
5. How does flash memory differ from traditional storage? My mp3 player has flash memory and I wondered what that meant. What are the capacity constraints and how does it perform compared to something like what an ipod has?
6. Is there a difference between multiple core processors and systems with multiple single-core processors? As far as speed or efficiency goes, I see that certain (usually older) Macs have multiple single-core processors as opposed to the new "Duo" ones which I assume are within the same chip.
7. What does it mean when a server crashes? I know it is a malfunction but I don't know what causes it.
8. Why are there so many different ways to encode a song? (mp3, wav. …) I was trying to convert all my music into mp3 format and had an extremely difficult time because there are dozens of different types and I see no use for anything other than one universal code.
9. Why do laptop batteries eventually die after only a year and a half or two years? This happened to two of us, and of course, replacements are extremely expensive.
10. How often do hard drives crash, and what is the most common cause? Again, this has happened to members of the group and always ends up being extremely inconvenient and unexpected.
September 20, 2006
Body goes here
Headings are cool!
Hello world.Bold text
This link should be red if you haven't visited davesite.com/ and green if you have.
^ but I am colorblind so it is sort of moot. :(
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September 11, 2006
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