Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Social Network 'Assimilation'

Star Trek fans are familiar with the infamous Borg psuedo-race of cybernetic organisms. They operate solely toward the fulfilling of one purpose: to "add the biological and technological distinctiveness of other species to their own" in pursuit of perfection. This is achieved through forced assimilation, a process which transforms individuals and technology into Borg, enhancing, and simultaneously controlling, individuals by implanting or appending synthetic components.

It seems like social networks are quickly becoming 'borg like' as hives of existence and assimilating unsuspecting humans away from the real world and into the virtual realm. If it hasn't happened to you already, "you will be assimilated."

I was at a dinner party with a group of friends and while I was having a pleasant conversation with one of the guests, I couldn't help but notice how his full attention turned to his smartphone mid-conversation. Instead of actually enjoying the dinner party, it appeared that it was more important to update his Facebook page to inform his "friends" how much he was enjoying the dinner party.

It seems that the splintering of the web by the many mobile devices that are connected to the internet has facilitated this migration to virtual fulfillment. What will be the impact on our society where individuals live through their social network at the expense of their 'real' network? Many of us have hundreds of friends on Facebook, in real life, we don't have nearly that many 'friends.'

Clearly for advertisers, this is a tremendous opportunity. Not only can we associate a brand with an image, we can find out by social network user profiles and postings who associates themselves with that image. The main disconnect is the advertisement or social network presence is often promoting something in the 'real world.' As we have seen sometimes there is a significant disconnect between the social network world and the 'real' world.

One example, is when individuals paint a false picture of their real existence within the social network. I've seen social network walls and postings that would suggest an individual is an expert in a particular past time but in reality they are novices. The social network misinformation, in this scenario, could be misleading to advertisers.

Either way, it is clear that the social network is growing into a collective of information that is impossible to ignore from an advertising perspective. As the Borg would say, "Resistance is Futile."

Monday, January 25, 2010

2009 Review & 2010 Outlook

As 2010 gains momentum, it important to look back and see where we have been before we know where we are going. There are many "New Year's predictions" articles in the blogoshere, but there are not that many that look back at the previous years predictions to check for accuracy. Let's take a look a my 2009 predictions to see if I am deserving of a Christal Ball award for clairvoyance.

2009 Prediction Reality Check
1. PREDICTION - Yahoo! will Fade Away, REALITY - Yahoo! is still here
With a new CEO at the helm, Yahoo! has made some very significant changes in 2009. The biggest of which is deciding to outsource their search engine to Microsoft. Whether this will help usher in a new era for Yahoo! is unknown, but for now Yahoo! appears to have stabilized under its new leadership.

2. PREDICTION - Online Video will Monetize and Standardize, REALITY - Monetize (No) Standardize (Yes)
The IAB published an update to their Digital Video Ad Measurement Guidelines in December of 2009. Monetization of Online Video is still elusive. However, the usage has been continually growing. According to the latest report issued by Nielsen Online, 137.4 million Americans watched Web video in December, a healthy increase of 10.3 percent versus the same month in 2008. Those viewers streamed over 10.7 billion videos during the month, representing an increase of 11.8 percent versus the same time period a year earlier.

3. PREDICTION - Government will Embrace Technology, REALITY - Happening!
As I continually receive email updates from the Obama Administration, it is clear that government is changing. Barack Obama initiated his first Tweet on January 13, 2010. However, these changes are taking a longer time to make their way to other government offices such as the US Postal Service.

4. PREDICTION - Touch Screen Trend will Phase Out Again, REALITY - Not Yet!
Just last week Apple announced it will be coming out with the infamous "T" word: A Tablet PC. There have been many Tablet PC's that have crashed and burned, we will see if Apple can pull it off. However, the e-Book Reader market is flourishing and appears to be the perfect application for the Touch-Screen form factor. Of course, every week more and more iPhone knock-offs are hitting the market. I am a hardcore Blackberry user and when I finally lost my patience with my wireless provider, T-Mobile, I decided to try the touch screen Blackberry Storm2. My trial did not even last 1 month and am thrilled to have a mobile device with a keyboard!

5. PREDICTION - BtoC E-Commerce will Flourish, REALITY - It's happening!
Discounts spurred an 11 percent jump in online sales on Black Friday and a 10 percent gain on Thanksgiving, according to research firm comScore.

6. PREDICTION - Social Networking Ad Revenue will be Flat, REALITY - Very little growth in 2009.
Initially, there were predictions that social networking ad revenue would decrease in 2009. However, the research firms reversed their prediction toward to end of the year suggesting that there would be there would be an increase of 4% (clickz).

Three out of 5 is not bad! Now, let's look at predictions for 2010.
1. PREDICTION - Facebook will go public
Facebook appears to have reached somewhat of a plateau. They are starting to make much needed profit with advertising and investors must be ready to reap the fruits of their labor. I expect an IPO in 2010.
2. PREDICTION - Apps Marketing Standardization
Apps for mobile devices and social networking have not formally been able to stand of their own as fare as a marketing medium is concerned. However, their usage is exponentially increasing. I expect applications to have some form of standardization in 2010.
3. PREDICTION - Microsoft will "Fling" Bing
Is there anyone actually using this search engine??? I didn't think so!! Seriously, the actual data suggests that Bing is capturing 10% of searches in the US. The question I have is this, is that any better than MSN before Bing? Actually, it is less! According to Compete MSN had 25% of US searches in 2007.

Happy New Year!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Web Curators

On October 19th, I attended a Baruch College's Lunch and Learn. The speaker was none other than Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist. He has some very interesting perspectives about social media and is very passionate about "governance" as it relates to society and the internet.

One of the topics of his talk that I found most interesting is the subject of information "curators." This term appears to be the latest buzz word that mass media content developers use to describe their role in the webosphere. Analogous to an art museum curator whose job is to manage or oversee the collection of works owned or on exhibit. A web "curator" decides what is worthy of publishing to the masses, whether it is news, music, videos or any information. Traditionally, information curators are the news media, music labels, movie studios, etc. Now in a web 2.0/3.0 world we witnessing a dramatic shift where the roll of the curator is becoming obsolete. As more and more user generated content and eyeballs coexist on the web it will become more difficult for a news editor or music producer to act as gatekeepers of data. Therefore it is critical to embrace this change rather than resist. It seems music labels are record labels are slowly adapting to this trend. The big challenge is with news organizations. Whether it is newspapers, magazines or television, how do you justify your roll as a gatekeeper news if your audience often has better access to news information?