Just got it…like it thus far

clipped from www.nytimes.com

blog it

Context, Context, Context (as always)

I thought this was a validating article for those who have been arguing with me about this for years.

Study: Context Matters for Online Ads

June 16, 2009

-By Lucia Moses

Like print ads, context matters when it comes to the effectiveness of Internet ads, according to new findings from media researcher McPheters & Co.  Analyzing the effectiveness of Internet banner ads, McPheters, collaborating with Condé Nast and CBS Vision, found that online ads running on sites with related content were 61 percent more likely to be recalled than ads on sites with unrelated content—a finding that would seem to undercut the case for ad or behavioral networks, which target viewers based on their Internet usage habits.

“The behavior networks are more focused on who they get in front of instead of the environment sites provide,” said Rebecca McPheters, CEO of McPheters & Co. “This says the site on which your ad appears matters.”

The firm also found that not all types of sites are created equal when it comes to recall. Social-networking, shopping and food sites generated the highest recall levels (29 percent to 39 percent), while search and portal sites had the lowest (under 5 percent).

Wolframalpha – not a great name

Wouldn’t it be fun to see Google get its ass kicked?  Nothing personal, just good fun seeing the big guy knocked down.  Well, it’s not happening any time soon, but what goes around eventually comes around.

Check out:  www.wolframalpha.com/screencast/introducingwolframalpha.html

Wolframalpha (annoying name, isn’t it?) makes use of contextual algorithms as compared to Google’s general keyword and link-based algorithms—so it’s pretty smart if you ask it something it knows.  Wolfram might say about Google, “to a hammer everything is a nail.”

[As a reminder, context is always king—the evolution of the web is about narrowing context to create more and more relevancy and engagement—see the name of this blog if you need proof.]

The first public version of Wolframalpha is more about discovering specific information than it is about discovering websites that contain specific information.   Of course, one of Wolframalpha’s subject-matter domains could easily be website discovery—that is, the entire business of  website discovery could be just one of the many domain-specific algorithms Wolframalpha offers.  On the other hand, what Wolframalpha provides is already a small subset of what Google currently provides, to a degree, so long as the questions posed to mister Google aren’t too tough.

It can be said that Wolframalpha is just the latest flavor of directed search with a few semantic chops on the side.  But this time around I believe there is real potential to cover much more domain-specific ground than previous efforts—wikis have taught us much.  Can Wolframalpha (or similar efforts) adequately cover what most humans currently discover via traditional keyword search?   The current “social search” efforts (let’s leave Twitter et al out of it for the moment) may be irrelevant, but there’s no doubt that capturing the world’s knowledge with domain-specific algorithms will take the work of many hands.

It’s  obvious that domain-specific algorithms are more interesting (provide more relevancy) than generic keyword algorithms.   Isn’t that why search within Twitter has everyone aflutter?   But we’ll all get over the novelty of social discovery and the real-time web soon enough because I believe something much smarter is coming, and on it we will flow.

Flashy TV

Flash on the tube is a very big deal. The container for nearly all internet media, Flash offers the greatest technical potential in terms of transforming the versatility of the set-top box.

Of course KickApps has the most spectacular drag-and-drop application for building nearly any kind of Flash container (no actionscript skill required, thank you very much), so these developments are nothing but good from my perspective.

clipped from www.multichannel.com

Broadcom To Pack Adobe’s Flash Into TV Chips

Joint Development Will Bring Web Media Player To Digital TVs, Set-Top Boxes

By Todd Spangler — Multichannel News, 1/6/2009 2:35:00 PM

In another pact aimed at bringing Web-based video to TVs, Broadcom and Adobe Systems announced Tuesday that they will work together to integrate Adobe’s Flash multimedia platform into Broadcom’s latest digital television and set-top box system-on-a-chip platforms. 

  blog it

Widgets Suck?

I didn’t see Fred Wilson’s keynote at the Widget World Expo, but read about it on Nate Westheimer’s Silicon Alley Insider post:  Fred Wilson, Why Widgets Suck, And How to Fix Them

Nate writes:

His talk (you can see the slides at the bottom of this post) was titled “Why Widget Is the Wrong Word and Why it Matters,” but it was really about why widgets aren’t working today. …as widgets started to be used to display other web content…they became ‘relegated to the sidebar and increasingly seen as ad units and increasingly ignored.’  …But they shouldn’t be ignored, Fred argued. They should be integrated into the flow and experience of the page. Developers, he said, need to put more focus on widget user experience.

I believe Fred is more or less on point with his observations, but Nate’s point about “context” is even more essential.  In the long term widgets only make economic sense within the context of editorial experiences on websites outside the context of traditional social networking experiences.  In fact the basic building blocks of content-oriented websites will increasingly be “widgets” (e.g. blocks of modular, interactive content informed by social graph data).

As Fred points out in his blog it’s all about mashing up web services, and so the components of the widget, itself, must be modular and flow seamlessly with the page.  Therefore a new generation of “widget builders” is necessary for the task, which is something we’ve been working hard on at KickApps.  Moving forward, a single widget may draw on data from multiple web services and often won’t resemble the boxy things we now call “widgets”.

But it’s not just the definition of “widgets” that needs an overhaul to be relevant outside of the context of traditional social networking experiences.  The “social graph”, itself, needs break free from traditional social networking websites, and the reasons go well beyond “profile portability” (which industry people often make way too much of).

Widgets (and all content) increasingly need to be contextually-informed to be relevant, and that transformation of content can only happen with access to contextually relevant social graph data.  There’s no doubt that social graph data will be used to inform (socialize, personalize) editorial experiences on sites across the entire web—miles from the nearest social networking portal.  The problem for publishers is that existing uber-social graphs are simply not up to the job of serving individual websites.

Friend Connect and similar efforts may prove to be valuable for certain limited tasks as a kind of mega-phone book (e.g. portability), but the future will belong to web publishers that learn how to organize and make use of their own audience data, collected within the context of their own user experiences.

End Note:  KickApps provides the industry’s first Social Graph Engine ™ for Publishers.

The Social Graph Engine

FAQ of the day: What about Google Connect?

The short answer:

Anytime the large social networks make it easier for us to help our customers (web publishers) promote audience growth, it’s a very good thing.

The long answer:

While few and far between, my blog posts have always been about the opportunity large social networks and traditional portals have to begin serving publishers across the entire web.  I’ve used phrases like “open portal”, “anti-portal” and “the distributed web” to describe this opportunity.  In sum, if the major players hope to extend their ad networks to credible publishers across the web, they will have to earn that inventory by helping publishers grow their audiences. After all, Fox and NBC have to earn the right to place ads across their network of independent television stations by providing their affiliates’ programs that grow ratings. The same is true for internet ad networks.

Recent “openness” initiatives by MySpace, Google and Facebook Connect begin to ask the right question: How can we begin providing value to the universe of websites outside our domain? It’s a first step, but only a baby step.

While these initiatives allow website publishers to make limited use of mega-portal social information, they don’t empower publishers to aggregate and own their own user profiles and social graph information.   I believe this limitation is fatal if the major social networks hope to interoperate with high value web publishers in a meaningful way.  Moving forward all serious publishers want to contextually inform their advertising experiences and user applications with real-time user data that is unique to their audience. It is therefore essential that publishers own and control their own community profile management, reporting and social graph engine.

Providing publishers their own social graph engine is core to the KickApps product offering.  In fact all KickApps applications (e.g. UGC, social networking, widget building, programmable video players, media management, member management), along with 3rd party OpenSocial and Facebook apps, are fully integrated with the KickApps social graph engine out of the box.    What’s equally important is that we provide a full set of APIs, customizable feeds, widget builder tools and a plug-in architecture such that our publishers can easily build and deploy their own custom applications that make full use of our social graph engine.

The KickApps platform will certainly integrate with Google Connect, Facebook Connect and MySpace because these initiatives may help our website publishers accelerate audience growth by tapping into “friends” on the big social networks. But this value to publishers is modest relative to the benefits of leveraging their own social graph engine. KickApps will continue to earn long-lasting relationships with publishers because our sole mission is to serve them.

More analysis from around the web:

Google Friend Connect: What’s the Point? Mike Gunderloy, Web Worker Daily, GigaOm Network

Why should I, as a webmaster, set aside part of my page for you to have a conversation in? Why should you, as a user, come to my site to talk with your Facebook friends, rather than using Facebook? Why should I have to choose which identity to share with a site, rather than just logging in with OpenID and interacting with other users of that site? What are we getting in return for pushing another stream of data through Google?

Google Confirms Friend Connect Erick
Schonfeld, TechCrunch

But it is not there yet. For instance, it doesn’t work with Google’s Social Graph API, and many more social and identity networks still need to be connected.  …The bigger downside of Friend Connect is that Websites using it cannot mash up the data with their own to make compelling new applications. Glazer confirmed that the data will be sent to third party sites via an iframe rather than directly through a set of APIs (as Michael speculated on Friday).  However, Glazer also says that he wouldn’t be surprised if eventually Google or somebody else makes it possible for Websites to combine the Friend Connect data with their own.

Facebook Connect and Google’s Friend Connect Charlene Li, Groundswell

Prying Open the Social Graph Stacey Higginbotham, GigaOM

Hooman on semantic web

I enjoyed Hooman Radfar’s post re semantic web at  Widgify. When semantic web finally rolls out in a meaningful way I doubt consumers will have any idea that they just experienced the “semantic web”.  They’ll just find that many separate services that they normally use in an ad hoc fashion are suddenly integrated in more interesting ways.  Semantic web will also bring new ways to navigate the internet.  More on that later.