Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Prism - Start of Something New?

Absolutely brilliant idea from the people at Mozilla (the company that makes Firefox). They've put together a cunning programme that will take individual websites and make them have their own window.

What's the point?

Basically it makes webapps better by removing the browser 'clutter' at the top which makes the whole thing look like a webpage. The plan is that you won't be able to tell the difference between using Google Docs and using MS Word or something like that.

When this is finished, expect to see it become an integral part of Google pack. It'll work with other software too, I'm sure Zoho will be all over it too. This Web 3.0 that everyone's talking about may actually be Desktop 2.0. Let's make a buzzword generator to cover it all off...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How to promote a museum

Flickr: Victoria and Albert Museum

Really nice idea from the V&A.

Nice bit of interactivity and also encourages people to label their photos when they put them on flickr.

Would be interesting to see if anyone has gotten around to collecting stats on what they've been up to but I doubt that they have. Nice marketing idea that hasn't cost anyone much time or effort.

Will definitely post some pictures up there from next time I visit.

Child Copyright Violator

Inside the Mind of a 9 Year Old File-Sharer | TorrentFreak

Nice little interview with a junior filesharer. It is interesting thinking about all these kids who are growing up with very little concept of how to obey copyright law.

The key is that people are going to break the law if it's easy and pretty much consequence free. There's a whole host of software out there specifically designed to make it easy for you to cheat and to make it easy for you to hide what you're doing.

The quality of the IT work by the rights holder is pretty much abysmal so you can be sure that the nine year olds are going to be able to stay one step ahead of them (by using software written by other people). The studios do seem to be seeing the light in regard to this, but there is still some work to be done.

Ideally (for us!) the perfect solution will be a subscription to a free service that will randomly insert ads in between songs, or in the middle of videos. I think the majority of people will be comfortable downloading something that is convenient, easy to use and reliable in exchange for a couple of adverts.

Overall I think we can succeed in changing behaviour if we replace free with free. We won't if we replace free with pay options - Bittorrent won't disappear and will always be the default option for many people.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Facebook vs Myspace Round 95

Really good article going through the various methodologies used to compare traffic across lots of different sites.

Summary is that there's been a little controversy in the States where the standard measurement (Comscore) decided that Facebook had actually lost users and market share in the previous month. Obviosuly this didn't quite chime with the current levels of hype and hysteria around the product.

Something's going on!

It highlights the difficutly of getting good numbers from the larger websites. In the UK we have settled on measurement from ABCe, these numbers are slightly better than the majority of other numbers shown. However, there is still scope to game these numbers and the publishers have a huge incentive to do so. ABC numbers in the press world are often artificially boosted using a range of different methods.

Facebook is definitely not alone in finding huge discrepancies between the (genuine) numbers that they see and the (estimated) numbers that the panels produce. The problem is finding the genuine number. We as advertisers and agencies do not wish to make decisions based on numbers provided by salespeople. Publishers are rightly aggreived when decisions are based on numbers which do not represent their situation.

It's difficult to find a solution and it would be a mistake to think any other media has comprehensively solved this. The ABCe is a welcome development which will hopefully grow larger in time. I'm sure someone somewhere is working on something even better, but we'll have to settle for some kind of slow industry standard in the meantime.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cheeky Monkeys

Was looking through to find out who was using radianrss to subscribe to this blog, and what the hell radianrss was.

Did a search on google and got this

Google obviously thought that I meant to search for radiators. What's interesting is that it threw up search ads for radiators. It would be interesting to know how many of our ads are appearing against terms which bore VERY little relation to the words that are being searched for. Seriously - radianrss is quite a different mess of characters from radiators...

It's a good way for them to inflate their revenues still further.

Analyse This

Google ratcheted the quality of their analytics product up by another notch this week.

They have now included two core features into their analytics engine - internal search and event tracking.

Internal Search
They are now able to track people's search behaviour on individual sites. This isn't the hugest new feature for the majority of users on this product. However, any internet retailer will find this hugely useful as it will show how easy the site is to navigate in 'last resort' terms.
I haven't seen any evidence to support my view that search is usually the last thing people use to navigate within a site, but I believe this to be the case with the majority of stores. Only a store with more than roughly fifty products should feel the need to push their search function. All other sites should consider their site design and find ways to guide customers to the right destination without needing them to explicitly tell you what they're after.
For those that do have large numbers of products, it gives an insight into products that are important to customers. It can give an idea about rapid changes in popularity of generic ranges of goods. Admittedly we already have access to which product pages people are looking at, but searches should do some of the categorisation for us.
It will also open up possibilities in terms of measuring the performance of the search pages - tweaks will now be more easy to appreciate.

Event Tracking
This feature would have made a real difference when we were working on Jellyfish. Basically it allows things to be tracked when they don't involve a new page being loaded. Jellyfish was a particular problem since the page only tracked as one URL as far as google analytics could see. Event tracking should mean that we will be able to look at the performance of flash and ajax parts of sites.
More visibility is crucial here and I'm surprised it's taken this long for Google to put in a fix to this problem. Web 2.0 is fast becoming obsolete in terms of jargon, to be replaced by web 3.0 - surely this will then be supplanted by web 3.1 and then maybe web 95?

Anyway, Google are showing us that they're going to continue putting effort into analytics. It will be interesting to see what they come up with once the acquisition of doubleclick is complete. Their tracking system will be really comprehensive then!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sony Gets Ready to Sell

As everyone knows, gamers are not spending as much time as marketers would like looking at adverts.

Sony seem to have picked up on this theme. In order to make themselves pick up on the potential profits, they are now hiring people to make this happen.

Seems strange that it's taken almost a year to get this sorted out. Large numbers of people already use their systems on a daily basis. Sony control the interface and are also heavily involved in the coding of many of the titles that are released. This means that they can ensure that the adverts are as loud and intrusive as Sony want it to be.

Users will obviously be rather annoyed if the advertising is overly intrusive, this will interfere with their experience. However, they'll probably accept the advertising if it gives them something tangible.

It will be interesting to see how they manage it. At the moment games advertising seems to focus on getting very unobtrusive ads across the game. I suspect Sony will be able to find ways to get bigger and better ads sneaking into the system. Loading screens could definitely use some expansion, and there are usually a good couple of screens within a game that spend a disproportionate amount of time in front of gamers' faces.

Some of the solutions even offer branded characters within the game, though I think this would be a difficult thing to dynamically insert into the code. I'll look forward to hearing from Sony.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Microsoft Health?

Ars are reporting that Microsoft are in the process of establishing a private system of health records that you can easily take between doctors. It's a really good idea. The NHS are currently spending £12Bn to do just this. Somebody should have told them!
There will be some slightly geeky people who will post a link to this repository from their facebook pages. This will be a little odd, but possible.

This product follows a long trend of people giving sites more and more personal information. There are already services within the US that will look after your bank account for you (Wesabe) and we all know how much info people put onto their facebook and myspace pages.

I read an interesting article (though unfortunately I can't remember where!) comparing web application providers with Banks. Basically you're asking them to store your information and the relationship is entirely founded on trust.

We're still not quite at the point where we can define what we expect from a company in terms of trust - we definitely don't want them to make the information publicly available, but people seem comfortable with some information going to advertisers. If you ask people if they want to share their information, they'll say no - but people are easily swayed by the offer of free services.

I think the evolution of the relationship between application providers and the public will end up hinging on the trust issue. We still haven't seen anyone mishandle privacy in any major way. It will be interesting to see what people's reaction to a mishap will be. Would we see something analogous to a bank run?

Let's wait and see what happens if google accidentally publishes the wrong thing.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Free Trend Continues

Chris Anderson wrote a book about the ‘long tail’ last year (for those of you who haven’t heard that phrase please ask someone in search!).

His next book takes the idea further, from small logistic costs to minimal logistical costs. In other words, what happens when there is no distribution cost and how certain things which we currently pay for (and value) could possibly turn into something free.

His initial predictions are coming true already - Radiohead are releasing their new album in exchange for a 'fair price donation'.
Newspapers are currently fighting among themselves to pull down the subscriber 'walls' within their sites. Good article here