[ About Us | Popular | Marcom | AdNet | IChannel | Glossary ]

Jan 17, 2009

Obama in 3D: Photosynth to Crowdsource Synth of the 44th Presidential Inauguration

Barack ObamaNext Tuesday, the eyes of the United States - and likely the world - will be on Washington, DC, as Barack Obama takes the oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States. Attendance is likely to dwarf any presidential inauguration in history - with estimates currently predicting at least one million people at the event. Regardless of the attendance, one thing is for sure: with nearly ubiquitous access to cameras and video equipment, this will be the most well-documented inauguration, ever. Now, the Microsoft Photosynth team has announced that they will be making the event even more memorable - by creating a three-dimensional "synth" of the inauguration from your photos.

Photosynth - a service powered by Seadragon - allows a series of two-dimensional pictures to be stitched and interpolated into a three-dimensional representation of a moment in time. The more angles and photos, the more complete the rendering. So, the girth of photos from the inauguration will be particularly well-suited, given that there will be millions of images from thousands of different vantage points.


The Photosynth project is being run in conjunction with CNN.com as part of their "The Moment" sub-site.

"We'll take your photos from every angle, combine them with CNN's professional shots, and produce what we hope will be an amazing experience that will be shown live on CNN. And you thought the Jessica Yellin hologram was cool! The synth will also be available for everyone to see on CNN.com."

To participate:

1. Take one photo of the moment when Obama takes the oath. If you have a digital camera with a zoom lens, take three photos (wide-angle, mid-zoom, full-zoom)

2. E-mail each photo as soon as possible to themoment@cnn.com (one photo per message, 10MB size limit). Don't forget to include your name in the message if you'd like to appear in the list of the contributors. Please only send in photos you took yourself.

3. Go to cnn.com/themoment to see all of the photos in our photosynth

The good news? Anyone with a digital camera can participate and take part in recording history. In addition to the Photosynth project, all of the photos will also be shared via iReport. Then, there's the bad news. If you want to see the finished work in all its glory, you have to have access to a Windows machine. Photosynth is only fully supported support Vista and XP currently. But they do offer an experimental Silverlight-based Photosynth player for other platforms. (I used the experimental viewer and it worked very well.)

If you're planning to be in attendance at the inauguration, bring your camera. Otherwise, stay tuned to CNN.com The Moment and Photosynth for the results of this experiment.

(Photo credit Joe Crimmings Photography. Used under Creative Commons.)

CLIP Federated Media Shifts Away From Display Ads; Restructuring Includes Some Job Cuts

imageFederated Media is meeting with its staff now to tell them about a decision to move the company away from display advertising and devote more resources to conversational marketing, paidContent has learned. The company is cutting seven jobs in the display area but publisher and chief revenue officer Chas Edwards (right) tells us FM has added some 25 jobs since July 1 and continues to hire. FM will have about 80 people on staff following the layoffs.

Edwards said when the company reached out to advertisers about their coming needs in the tough economy, small advertisers said they would be disappearing for 12-18 months while larger companies—Fortune 500 and the megabrands—- said: "Our competitors are going to be under a rock for the next 18 months—maybe 12; we're going to take 2009 to steal market share but we're going to do it for less. ... We're not going to do dumb display advertising on the internet, buying display banners through ad networks." The interest was more in conversation marketing and that's where FM is putting its resources, expanding the part of sales that focuses on major accounts and the back-office operations to support them.

Edwards shies away from descriptions of FM as an ad network. "As an ad network, FM is a failure. We're not organized to sell a lot of broad-based banner campaigns across zillions of sites. The approach we take is more of a publisher with a portfolio." FM, which represents more than 150 websites, partners with ad networks to sell remnant inventory.

Much more after the jump

Revenues: Edwards spoke in broad terms about revenues: "'08 wraps up around $39-40 million in revenues, up 70-80 percent from 2007. We still had a pretty good year of growth, although we had a pretty crappy Q4 like everyone else." Even so, he's projecting 2009 will be up somewhere between 35-50 percent. When I asked why he was so optimistic in such a down time, he responded, "I think the online market overall is going to be flat. The reason we have this optimism is the conversation we're having with marketers. We're coming off of frankly, a pretty small base of revenue in the overall scheme of things." He thinks FM will take advantage of what he expects to be a migration from print during the recession.

Chairman and CEO John Battelle explained the decision in a post on the company blog that went live during the meeting.

UpdateOver at TechCrunch, Mike Arrington says he's worried about his company's relationship with FM, which accounts for a third of his company's income, and, though he says the decision is up to CEO Heather Harde, wonders out loud if it's time for a new ad partner. Payments have dipped recently and he contends that staying with FM is more costly: "The biggest issue is that as a market leader among tech blogs, we end up subsidizing others. An example - an advertiser comes to us with, say, a $100,000 spend. They are referred through to Federated, who if they make the sale gets a 40% cut. That cut is fine. But what Federated then does is spread that $100k around to many different blogs. In the end we may only see a small fraction of it spent on TechCrunch." Battelle tells him FM will be focusinbg more on the kind of advertising that;s good for TC.

Justin Davis counters, saying he likes the way FM reps his four sites (Modojo.com, Destructoid.com, Gamersyde.com, and GoNintendo.com): "Mike… you're so dramatic, sometimes. FM makes it EXTREMELY easy for the sites they represent to follow up on leads themselves. They literally have a whole self-serve platform set up you can point ad buyers to, and if they place an ad buy, #1 it doesn't get split with a half-dozen other sites and #2 FM doesn't take it's 40% split - it takes 10% for serving the ads."

Jan 16, 2009

CLIP Browser Showdown At The Churchill Club; IE 8 Release Candidate Coming This Month

Representatives from Microsoft (Dean Hachamovitch), Opera (Christen Krogh), Mozilla (Mike Shaver) and Google (Sundar Pichal) met at the Churchill Club in Silicon Valley tonight for a panel called “Browsers are Hot Again!”, moderated by Businessweek columnist Steve Wildstrom.

The event is timely. There has never been such robust competition in the browser space. Google recently brought Chrome out of beta, and Microsoft’s GM of Internet Explorer Dean Hachamovitch told me earlier today that the Release Candidate of Internet Explorer 8 would be released in the next two weeks.

Notably absent from the panel was Apple, although their Safari browser was brought up repeatedly as an important mobile platform, and Safari’s underlying Webkit javascript engine was also praised as innovative.

Most of the panel discussion focused on the browser ecosystem, including add-ons, standards compliance and security. The panelists noted that web developers have a harder time today than a few years ago because they have to build for more than one browser. But as Firefox and others have gained market share, competition has sped feature advances, accelerating the development and evolution of javascript and other languages and standards. Krogh from Opera noted that the next big battleground is mobile.

An audience question asked each of the panelists to describe the essence of each browser. The responses were varied. Microsoft’s Hachamovitch said his team starts with looking at what the user wants and building from there (and pointed to IE 8’s impressive feature list). Krogh from Opera said they wanted to supply a standards compliant browser for literally any Internet connected device. Google’s Pichal said speed (of javascript) was their primary goal (Hachamovitch then dubbed him “Mr. Speed” in a later comment). Mozilla’s Shaver said Firefox was about “putting the web first,” and creating a standards-compliant browser in as many languages as possible to ensure that no one was left out of the Internet.

Hachmovitch also confirmed that Microsoft has no current plans to build Linux or Mac versions of Internet Explorer. Google’s Pichal confirmed that Chrome for Mac was coming “very soon.”

Jan 15, 2009

CLIP Mainstream media finds its way through Facebook

Posted by Lauren Drablier on January 15, 2009 at 10:59 AM
The New York Times has partnered with Facebook following its success from its Election Day campaign and CNN's announcement that it will partner with Facebook for inauguration day.  The new partnership is designed to compile users comments to the question, "What should Barack Obama address first as President?"

facebook.jpgThe move highlights how the mainstream media is tapping into social networking both within their sites and through other social networking sites.  So far, over 35,000 comments have been received and the conversation will continue on inauguration day when the NYT asks "How will you remember today?"

Rory O'Connor, Fellow at the Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policyrecently interviewed Randi Zuckerberg, part of Facebook's creative marketing organization.

According to Zuckerberg, the concept behind Facebook that makes it attractive to the media is  "trusted referral."  This means that a friend, or someone that you trust, is referring content to you, therefore you trust it which makes you much more likely to engage with the content.

Zuckerberg stated: "We are beginning to see journalists and news/broadcast companies creating a significant presence on Facebook to engage with Facebook users and help facilitate this notion of the trusted referral to assist with the viral spread of content. When journalists can really engage with this audience and enlist Facebook users to market and share their content, that is such a powerful way to share credible news and information and tap into the implicit trust that people have with their friends."

Although many mainstream media companies remain "squeamish about posting their content on other sites", because, according to Zuckerberg, "their content is their lifeblood, it's all they have... why would they give it away for free on other sites?", many are starting to use social networking sites to spread their content.

Zuckerberg does not expect to see the end of expert journalism, she believes that "people will always want a trusted, expert opinion when it comes to news, politics, current events, and important topics."  But she believes that the location where people get their information will change because rather than navigating to another site, why not stay on a site such as Facebook where they can engage with friends and get the latest news and information that they trust.

Jan 14, 2009

CLIP Google Pushes for Wider Google Apps Adoption with New Reseller Program

google_apps_reseller.pngGoogle tonight announced a reseller and accreditation program for Google Apps. Resellers, after being trained by Google, can now market, support, and customize Google Apps Premier Edition for their customers. Resellers will get training and support from Google, as well as tools for sales, marketing, and integrating Google Apps into their customers' existing architectures. Google has already rolled out a pilot of this program to more than 50 partners worldwide.

In its press release, Google especially stresses the cost benefits of moving to cloud services, as well as the security benefits of using Google's tools. Google notes that Google Apps is currently being used in more than 1 million businesses and has more than 10 million active users, with 3,000 new businesses signing up for it daily.

The Google Apps Premier Edition includes Google's Gmail, Docs, Sites, and Video for Business services, as well as numerous tools for migrating from other email services and enhanced security features.

With this, Google is clearly pushing for a wider adoption of Google Apps in the enterprise. Google could probably support these customers itself, but having a network of local sales forces and support staff would be costly and probably not something that Google would want to undertake in this volatile economic climate.

Resellers will get recurring revenue for as long as the customer uses Google Apps and will be getting the service from Google with a 20% discount, which is about $40 a year per seat.

Jan 13, 2009

Yahoo's New CEO is Carol Bartz

Ed: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon have been led by technologists. Media companies like NY Times and Timer Warner haven't figured the formula for success. Past Yahoo leadership has been from media. 

Why would a media leader be the best choice ;-)

from John Battelle's Searchblog

Not a lot of media experience in this choice, reported here by the WSJ. Kara had speculated on this previously.

Bartz has a lot of experience in other parts of the technology world, to be sure, and is widely respected. And I love that her former company, Autodesk, is in Marin, where I founded FM. But it does strike me that Yahoo needs a stronger suite of media-savvy executives now that Weiner and Rosensweig are gone.

New York Times: We're Not Going Bankrupt In May (NYT)

The New York Times Company responded in detail to Michael Hirschorn's article in the Atlantic worrying that the company might go bankrupt in May. NYTCo's bottom line? We're not dead yet...

Tip #1 For Any Type Of Personal Publishing

Ed: Simple advice for personal publishing. Keep it personal. Hobbies make for great blogs.

Dyanmic content - Powered by Photokit

By Tom Foremski - January 13, 2009

This is my #1 tip if you plan to publish anything online, as text, images, audio, video, or any combination of content ...

#1 publish only content that interests you.

I've noticed that If I try to write about companies, or try to write stories that don't interest me, it becomes very difficult, and the content doesn't "look" right. Writing about things that interest me, makes it easier to interest others, in the things that interest me. That's my advice but if already blog, or self-publish in any way, you most probably already have noticed this interesting quirk of online publishing.

Jan 12, 2009

CLIP Social Networking Still the #1 Growth Area in Online Marketing

Some optimistic news today in a study dug up by eMarketer: lots of small businesses plan to increase their spending on social network marketing in 2009. In fact, 25% of the small businesses surveyed by Ad-ology Research indicated that they would increase spending on the medium this year, a higher percentage than any other marketing format.

Meanwhile, 33% of small businesses indicated that they would keep spending on social networking about the same, while only 5% reported that they plan to spend less than in the previous year. Surprisingly, while 37% of small businesses in the survey don’t use social networking at all, that’s a smaller percentage than any other medium, including email marketing, search engine marketing, and even just maintaining a company website.

What to make of the data? While certainly hopeful news for those that work in social media, overall, the numbers would seemingly point to what might be a better-than-expected year overall for businesses that depend on online marketing dollars. In all but a few areas (online video, podcasting, and mobile), small businesses indicate they are growing (or keeping the same) and not shrinking their marketing budgets.

Costs are certainly being cut elsewhere – the unemployment rate in the US is at a 16-year high – but maybe, just maybe, online marketing is a bit better off than other areas of the economy.

Related Articles at Mashable | All That's New on the Web:

Hear Chris Brogan Speak at the New Marketing Summit
Social Networking Conference Miami: Register Now and Save $220
Social Network Ad Spending to Reach $2.5 Billion in 2011

CLIP Google Helping Bloggers with Data Portability

google-code.jpgWant to move your blog to another publishing platform? Well now Google has made it easier for you. Last Friday, the Data Liberation Team announced the Google Blog Converters project on their Open Source Blog.

Google made data portability a lot easier for Blogger users a month ago and with this announcement it appears they are offering easier portability solutions to WordPressMovable Type, and LiveJournal users as well.

Friday's release provides Python libraries and runnable scripts that convert between the export formats of the above platforms. Future plans include synchronization tools between services that don't offer import/export features as well as support for BlogML.

Google has also released templates for hosting the conversions on Google App Engine.


Take a look at the examples hosted on Google App Engine:

But beware the caveat noted in the readme file:

"There is a limit to the size of a downloaded file on appspot.com of 1 MB of data. Thus, these hosted applications should only be used for reference or for the conversion of small blog export files."

If you're interested in getting involved with the project, take a look at the source code or join the discussion group here.

How to: Build a Social Media Cheat Sheet for Any Topic

swedishchef.jpgLet's say you're a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker. You want to get up to speed on the social media activity in your market, as fast as you can. Or perhaps you want to sell things to candlestick makers online, or you're a journalist writing a story about blogging butchers, or maybe you've got some kind of weird baking fetish or academic interest...

Ed: Discovering and ranking blogs on a topic.

CLIP History in the making in LA as online ads hit target


Note well this moment in the history - and I do mean history - of newspapers: the editor of the Los Angeles Times, Russ Stanton, said the paper's online advertising revenue is now sufficient to cover the Times's entire editorial payroll, print and online. "Given where we were five years ago, I don't think anyone thought that would ever happen," he said in email. "But that day is here." The same day has arrived for at least one more major US newspaper. What this tells me is that we are on the cusp of the moment when online revenue could sustain a substantial digital journalistic enterprise without the onerous cost of printing and distribution. Hallelujah.

There are caveats aplenty: the LA Times newsroom got to this point because it was cut to a shell of its former self (from 1,200 staff to 660). Online advertising is often sold in packages with print (though if and when print disappears, marketers will have little choice but to shift to digital). And news organisations carry costs besides payroll, such as rent (though some papers are now making their newsrooms virtual).

Still, work with me here: imagine if the Times turned off its presses tomorrow. I've discussed that prospect before, going back to 2005, when Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger acknowledged that his new Berliner presses might be the last this paper would use. But the talk was speculative. Now it could be real: the paperless paper.

I remember the head of another major newspaper company telling me four years ago - with little romantic wistfulness - that if he could abandon print, he would cut $1bn in costs overnight. The problem was that he'd have abandoned about as much ad revenue and would have incurred high shutdown costs.

But at the LA Times, revenue and cost are converging. The paper could avoid some shutdown expenses because its parent, Tribune Company, declared bankruptcy late last year, allowing it to abandon costs and renegotiate contracts. In a conspiratorial frame of mind, one might wonder whether bankruptcy is convenient for the company's head, Sam Zell, a real-estate speculator specialising in depressed properties nicknamed the "Grave Dancer". Bankruptcy could be a convenient cloak for radical change.

Editor Stanton said in an email that he does not think the LA Times should turn off its presses. Plenty of other editors would agree. Indeed, I fear that Stanton's tale will embolden fellow editors to think that online has now grown sufficiently to support them in the manner to which they've become accustomed. For years, I've heard editors demand to know when this internet thing would pay for their newsrooms. Never, I always responded. Your days as an oligopolist are over, I've said, and the scale of the news business and your newsroom will inevitably shrink. Now, perhaps, they've shrunk enough.

But perhaps it won't be a legacy player who breaks this digital barrier. A newcomer unencumbered by the costs, expectations, processes, traditions, and culture of a print newsroom and business could build a profitable online news franchise at low cost. It could operate more efficiently by working in collaborative networks with the community, extending journalism's reach there. It could serve a vast new population of very small advertisers who never could afford print.

So in the LA Times revelation, I see hope: the possibility that online revenue could support digital journalism for a city. The enterprise will be smaller, but it could well be more profitable than its print forebears today and - here's the real news - it would grow from there. Imagine that: news as a growth industry again.

Jan 11, 2009

CLIP Hearst Says Seattle P-I Will Either Be Sold, Close Or Go Web-Only

imageFollowing yesterday's leak to a local TV station that Hearst Corp. was planning to sell or close the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the parent company has confirmed that it is seeking a buyer for the daily, the paper itself reported. The unidentified source who tipped off KING-TV yesterday about Hearst's plans told the station that the company is pessimistic about finding a buyer in this dismal environment. Publicly, Hearst sees three possibilities for theSeattle P-I, which is one of only two of the city's daily papers: it will either be sold, turned into a web-only publication or shuttered.

Steven Swartz, president of the Hearst Corp.'s newspaper division, said the paper's losses have been escalating steadily for the past nine years. Hearst doesn't see a turnaround any time in the near future. Addressing the paper's newsroom on Friday, Swartz put it bluntly: "One thing is clear: at the end of the sale process, we do not see ourselves publishing in print." Hearst owns 16 daily papers across the country, including the San Francisco ChronicleHouston Chronicle, and Albany Times Union. No word on whether Hearst is considering similar options for its other newspaper holdings.

In a release, Hearst said the Seattle P-I lost about $14 million in 2008 and its forecast anticipates a greater loss in 2009. The paper was founded in 1863 and it was acquired by Hearst in 1921. If Hearst does not find a buyer within 60 days, it will consider the two other options. It has retained investment bank Broadwater & Associates to search for a buyer.

Powered by Photokit

CLIP Local Advertising Booster Yodle Growing Like A Weed, Raises $10 Million

Ed: Web services, search advertising, optimizing, tracking.

Yodle, the New York-based startup that helps local businesses advertise more efficiently on the web, has secured $10 million in Series C financing in a round led by JAFCO Ventures and joined by Draper Fisher Jurvetson Growth, DFJ and Bessemer venture Partners. The company took the opportunity to add some facts and figures to the funding announcement, and they reflect that Yodle is doing quite well, thanks for asking.

The company, which started out in 2005, reports a whopping 700 % increase in annual revenue compared to its 2007 income. Of course, expressing growth in percentages is meaningless without actual figures, so we poked around a bit and got CEO Court Cunningham to at least share the run rate for last quarter (Q4 2008), which amounts up to $30 million. Also telling is the reported growth in employee count and signed customers: Yodle had 9 people on the payroll in 2006, it now has about 250, and the company now boasts 5,000+ customers which is up from 125 in 2006. Yodle expects to turn a profit in about six months.

In essence, Yodle is a lead generation company focused on aiding small businesses advertise their wares in search results for all major search engines. If customers have a website, the ad will point directly to it and Yodle will track and optimize actions starting from clickthrough to phone calls, etc. If there’s no web presence yet, the small business can opt to work with Yodle to create a custom so-called AdverSite which acts as a basic call-to-action website or landing page for the advertisers. Pricing for Yodle’s suite of services includes keyword bid management and optimization, website / landing page creation, and analytics ranges from under $1000 for small local business owners to over $5000 for larger businesses.

We understand that Yodle is quite persistent in generating a constant stream of new customers by using aggressive sales techniques, to the extent of local small business owners threatening to sue the company for harassment. Cunningham didn’t exactly dismiss these claims, but stated the whole thing concerns questionable methods used by isolated sales representatives who tend to “end up having a short career at Yodle”.

Yodle competes against a number of similar, venture-backed companies such as ReachLocal (which raised a substantial $65 million in funding to date), MerchantCircle (which raised its $10 million in Series B funding round in November 2007), Ingenio (acquired by AT&T, also in November 2007), WebVisible (total funding: $17 million) and a plethora of smaller companies trying to get their piece of the pie.

Support Our Sponsors: