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Mar 21, 2009

Doug Bowman, Frustrated Graphics Designer, quits Google

bobby said:
Microsoft's Live Search has a similar culture, arguing over petty things and wasting valuable time
joe user said:
It's an easy trap for engineering-driven company of any size to fall into: the inability to trust someone on something subjective like design because if it isn't quantifiable then everyone has an equal say in the matter. That is, designers as people and as experts do not receive the same respect as an engineer in such a culture. 

Fortunately, as Mr Bowman will (re)discover, alternatives exist where design has an equal place at the table with business/product management and engineering.
DJ Chang (URL) said:
Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are all led by tech leaders, down to project groups. Yahoo's most recent round of downsizing eliminated 50% of the Semel business/marketing leaders in favor of tech leaders with business and marketing acumen. AOL is dying - over-influenced by the Time Warner culture. Myspace is a jumble of techonology chaos after the Fox purchase. Newspapers are drowning in losses and debt. 

What's the message? 

It's pretty clear. 

Design serves tech. 

Tech leads. 

NYC publishers should note that the center of media is shifting to Silicon Valley. Broadcast media may be next. Sorry to be so blunt about this obvious trend.

Why I Quit Google (GOOG)

When I joined Google as its first visual designer, the company was already seven years old. Seven years is a long time to run a company without a classically trained designer. Google had plenty of designers on staff then, but most of them had backgrounds in CS or HCI. And none of them were in high-up, respected leadership positions. Without a person at (or near) the helm who thoroughly understands the principles and elements of Design, a company eventually runs out of reasons for design decisions. With every new design decision, critics cry foul. Without conviction, doubt creeps in. Instincts fail. “Is this the right move?” When a company is filled with engineers, it turns to engineering to solve problems. Reduce each decision to a simple logic problem. Remove all subjectivity and just look at the data. Data in your favor? Ok, launch it. Data shows negative effects? Back to the drawing board. And that data eventually becomes a crutch for every decision, paralyzing the company and preventing it from making any daring design decisions.

Yes, it’s true that a team at Google couldn’t decide between two blues, so they’re testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that. I’ve grown tired of debating such miniscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.

I can’t fault Google for this reliance on data. And I can’t exactly point to financial failure or a shrinking number of users to prove it has done anything wrong. Billions of shareholder dollars are at stake. The company has millions of users around the world to please. That’s no easy task. Google has momentum, and its leadership found a path that works very well. When I joined, I thought there was potential to help the company change course in its design direction. But I learned that Google had set its course long before I arrived. Google was a massive aircraft carrier, and I was just a small dinghy trying to push it a few degrees North.

I’m thankful for the opportunity I had to work at Google. I learned more than I thought I would. I’ll miss the free food. I’ll miss the occasional massage. I’ll miss the authors, politicians, and celebrities that come to speak or perform. I’ll miss early chances to play with cool toys before they’re released to the public. Most of all, I’ll miss working with the incredibly smart and talented people I got to know there. But I won’t miss a design philosophy that lives or dies strictly by the sword of data.

Photo: Fawny

Mar 20, 2009

CLIP iPhone game developers rejoice at Apple’s latest update plans

from VentureBeat by 

There were a lot of happy game developers among the 200 or so people who attended Thursday’siGames Summit, which was devoted to iPhone games.

This week, Apple announced itsiPhone 3.0 update coming this summer would have a number of game-friendly features: a virtual goods platform, Bluetooth multiplayer, and peer-to-peer connectivity. The speakers game developers such as Tapulous, ngmoco, Booyah, Demiforce, Zynga and Social Gaming Network were all excited about the progress Apple has made in making a game-friendly platform.

With more than 30 million iPhone and iPod Touch users to target, the developers see more potential to make lasting businesses. By accident or design, Apple has created a vibrant game ecosystem that keeps on getting stronger. The game features that made the iPhone unique? The social nature of the games, the four-inch multi-touch screen and the accelerometer that detects tilting or shaking.

“Everywhere else I go, people are talking about how to survive,” said Ken Gullicksen, a partner at Morgenthaler Ventures who moderated a panel at the summit. “In this market, people don’t talk about that. The animal spirit is alive and well and there is an enormous amount of excitement here.”

Steve Demeter, founder of Demiforce, said he always wanted to make a game on his own terms and the iPhone’s easy development tools and AppStore allowed him to do that and to start selling it. His hit puzzle game Trism was a top seller on the iPhone last year, even though his company has just a few people.

The challenge is that Demeter’s achievement is against the odds. There are mow more than 6,700 games on the iPhone, with more than 2,000 of those free, according to Mobclix. Venture-funded companies such as ngmoco, Zynga and Social Gaming Network are moving in fast. If your game dips below the top 100 games, it’s almost impossible for users to discover. Apple highlights cool games on its web site, but being selected is like winning the lottery. While viral social games spread from friend to friend, it’s easy to get lost.

But the speed with which the iPhone has revived the moribund mobile games market is still measured in months. Tapulous was a pioneer in the iPhone game space with its music-oriented games, but it was founded only 26 months ago. Neil Young, chief executive of ngmoco in San Francisco (and a GamesBeat 09 speaker), said that the iPhone as a game platform is as momentous an event as the launch of the first Nintendo game console, the debut of Microsoft’s Xbox Live online games service or the launch of the first massively multiplayer online games.

The difference, Young noted, is that Apple has thus far decided not to make its own games and instead has focused on making a platform that is attractive to game developers. If Apple had focused on its own game division and favored it the way some console makers have done in the past, it might have stymied development.

Gamers have shown they’re willing to download games. Now the challenge is to get them to play more. Young said that the average game session on short games such as Maze Finger is eight minutes, but the longer game Rolando has gamers playing for 22 minutes per session. The latter suggests deeper engagement with the games that parallels game sessions with the Nintendo DS.

As the games get more sophisticated, heavier investments in engineering, marketing and PR become necessary, raising the need for venture capital, Young said. It’s more important to upsell or cross-sell users from one game to another to help new titles take off. Pretty soon, big developers and publishers will have to start looking at the iPhone market the same way they do the Wii.

“It would be silly to think that the iPhone is not a threat to traditional gaming,” said Brett Seyler, general manager at game tool maker GarageGames.

Keith Lee, chief executive of Booyah, predicted that the iPhone and iPod Touch installed base would reach more than 100 million by the end of 2010. That’s far faster than the nearly six years it took for the Nintendo DS to reach more the same number.

“It has gone viral, like the moment when your mother said she wanted a Wii,” Young said.

That doesn’t mean it’s time to count other platforms out. Andrew Lacy, chief executive of Tapulous, said he expects that the Google Android, Palm Pre, Nokia, Windows Mobile and RIM Blackberry platforms are all likely to see good growth in the coming year as smart phones replace older phones at a fast clip. But Lacy said it will become much tougher to support other programs if it means hiring a couple of hundred programmers to adapt games to run on all of the other platforms.

It’s clear where the momentum is. Young said ngmoco generates more than half of its revenue from outside the U.S.

Shervin Pishevar, chief executive of SGN, said that his company has seen more than 10 million of its games installed on iPhone since the first one launched in September. He showed off a prototype accessory that attaches a toy golf club to an iPhone. When you swing the device, the iPhone’s accelerometer detects the movement and reproduces the swing in the golf game.

Developers are excited about the upcoming virtual goods platform, which allows the developers to let users try the games for free and then pay for individual items inside the games. Pishevar said that the company’s (fluff)friends virtual pets game is generating $50 in virtual goods purchase a month. When the iPhone 3.0 software launches this summer, those sorts of revenues can be generated by iPhone games.

Young said that developers are now trying to come up with second-generation iPhone games that make use of more features of the iPhone, such as its ability to store a music library, access the web, or the contacts for friends.

The iPhone market is also becoming more mature, with companies such as Aurora Feint and Viximo coming up with tools that make it much easier to add social elements to iPhone games. Mark Pincus, chief executive of Zynga, said he was glad that Facebook Connect — which introduces a way to import social networking data across platforms — will provide basic plumbing for social games on the iPhone. Brian Balfour, founder of Viximo, said the company makes money selling its own applications but will also try to provide a one-stop solution for everything that a developer needs to make a game go viral.

“We’re at an exciting time for virtual goods, iPhone sales, and gaming, with all of it coming together,” Balfour said.

Mar 19, 2009

Google opens up Google Books to Sony’s eReader

by Peter Ha on March 19, 2009

Sony and Google’s tag-team tactics might not hurt Amazon and its Kindle reader, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. For who, exactly, we’re not so sure. Sony announced a bit ago that Google has opened up more than half-a-million of its books to Sony’s eReader. The catch? All of Google’s archived books are about as old as your granddad, if your granddad were 80-years-old.

The addition of Google’s archive of books brings the number of available titles to Sony’s eReader at around 600,000. Amazon offers roughly 240,000 titles at the moment, but these include recent works and almost all of the New York Times bestsellers. Both Sony eReader models are cheaper than the Kindle at $300 (PRS-505) and $350 (PRS-700), respectively, but they lack WhisperNet for instant downloads among other notable features. On the flip side, Google announced that they plan to make the over 1.5 million public domain books available for mobile phones, which includes the iPhone and G1.

Mar 18, 2009


1. Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 99 copies.
2. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for sexual favors."
3. Specify that your drive-through order is "TO-GO."
4. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.
5. Stomp on little plastic ketchup packets.
6. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions "to keep them tuned up."
7. Reply to everything someone says with "that's what you think."
8. Practice making fax and modem noises.
9. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and "cc" them to your boss.
10. Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.
11. Finish all your sentences with the words "in accordance with prophesy."
12. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears and grimacing.
13. Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge across the room.
14. Holler random numbers while someone is counting.
15. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist to others that you "like it that way."
16. Staple pages in the middle of the page.
17. Publicly investigate just how slowly you can make a croaking noise.
18. Honk and wave to strangers.
19. Decline to be seated at a restaurant, and simply eat their complimentary mints at the cash register.
21. type only in lowercase.
22. dont use any punctuation either
23. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.
24. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times.
"Never mind, it's gone now."
25. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.
26. Try playing the William Tell Overture by tapping on the bottom of your chin. When nearly done, announce "No, wait, I messed it up," and repeat.
27. Ask people what gender they are.
28. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.
29. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.
30. Sing along at the opera.
31. Go to a poetry recital and ask why each poem doesn't rhyme.
32. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions and then scribble their answers in a notebook. Mutter something about "psychological profiles."

Early Beta Data From Microsoft Adsense Competitor Encouraging

Ed: Google has a conflict of interest.
  • Most of the revenues goto their search pages where they keep 100% of the revenues.
  • Google keeps the highest CPC on their search pages.
  • Over the last 5 years, the share of revenues paid to affiliates has declined.
Microsoft has the following advantages:
  • Shear size and budget to fight Google.
  • Reach with big and small businesses.
  • A clean start on the design of PubCenter. AdSense and AdWord have gotten cluttered with all the migratory changes. 
  • Further, they have the technical strength to match Adsense. Maybe not search, but the Adsense logic is easier to copy and outperform.
  • Less conflict of interest since the only page views owned by Microsoft is primarily with Hotmail users. They don't have a significant news or search inventory of page views.
If Microsoft offers a higher payoff to early publishers, and advertisers realize that there is lesser competition leading to lower prices, many would certainly try Pubcenter and possibly stay.

Increased competition is good, even if the other player is Microsoft. What do you think?

by Leena Rao on March 18, 2009

We are getting reports that Microsoft’s PubCenter, a self serve thirty party ad publishers platform through AdCenter, is doing quite well with beta testers. Microsoft began testing PubCenter last summer.

One beta tester we spoke with said PubCenter is paying significantly more than Google AdSense and Yahoo Publisher. All three of these programs let third party publishers add contextual ads next to their content via a self-service format.

Google has dominated this space in the past (and all other contextual advertising) because it offers publishers higher fees for ads. But this might change when Microsoft unveils PubCenter to the greater publisher community, particularly if Microsoft is aggressive in revenue splits to gain market share.

Currently, PubCenter is being tested by a small subset of web publishers. Our tipster says that he receiving from four times more in revenue Microsoft than Google AdSense. And the money isn’t the only advantage PubCenter has over AdSense. The advertisement themselves are are higher quality than Google’s ads, he says, and equally as targeted towards the content. He says that Microsoft seems to be more stringent about letting advertisers into the program, versus what seemed like an advertiser free-for-all though Google’s AdSense. Of course, with a smaller inventory of advertisers, it’s tougher to provide contextual ads for obscure content.

We also heard that Microsoft is allowing publishers to get creative with ads by allowing them to set background images. Google AdSense only allows publishers to change the color of the ads.

Microsoft is allowing test partners to publish Google ads on their site as long as the publisher doesn’t have an exclusivity agreement with Google. Third party ads are a controversial concept, since advertisers expect the click throughs and conversions that they get from search. Google has been sued for fraud because ads placed on parked pages weren’t producing results. But if Microsoft is offering a better program, with nifty, more targeted ads, then publishers and advertisers alike might make the switch (or use both, if possible).

Microsoft recently enlisted digital media executives, including execs from IAC, Wall Street Journal Digital Network, The New York Times Co., Time Inc. and Viacom Inc. to consult on next-generation advertising platform.

Microsoft said this about PubCenter in February:

PubCenter will be built on the existing adCenter Publisher architecture that is currently in beta and will include the convergence of technologies and tools provided by the former Atlas and Rapt solutions, as well as a self-serve offering. The new platform will provide innovative forecasting and order management solutions, advanced analytics tools, and enhanced targeting functionality to enable all digital media publishers to have access to the tools and technology they need to provide valuable and relevant ad content to their advertising partners.

Here are some screenshots of Microsoft’s ads on a publisher’s site and an ad with an image in the background:

Mar 17, 2009

Learning the AI behind the New Facebook, LinkedIn Needs to Adapt

A minor riot has erupted at Gawker, Techcrunch, and at Facebook over recent changes. Most incorrectly compare Facebook to Twitter. 

Let's bring clarity to this simple, but far reaching change by Facebook.

Background Information

I wrote CAT (i.e. contacts, activities, and time) in 1984. I studied AI (i.e. artificial intelligence) at MIT in the late '60s. I've written several posts about Facebook and LinkedIn that have been read by tens of thousands. Thus, I may be a little more qualified than the average commenter, but probably not much ;-)

Facebook overcame huge technology complexities and scalability issues to deliver a new Facebook. With my personal background, I prepped my use of Facebook for this expected change. 

The results have been personally magical.

Facebook friends and Twitter followers

Whether friends at Facebook or LinkedIn; or followers at Twitter, the average list has creeped, leaped from dozens to hundreds to thousands - to unmanageable noise. We may have started with friends, but the list quickly grew to include acquaintences, suspects, fans, and absolute strangers. 

Twitter aims to serve networks of strangers. Compare to email spam lists, it's easy to build and maintain the list. Users can opt-out by un-following, without contacting the sender. 

That's the big Twitter story.

As I write, my Twitter list has grown from a few hundred to over 3,000 - in 3 days. By the end of this week, I'll have 10,000 - just like hundreds of other Twitter users - but perhaps a little more accelerated using robotic help. That's not the Facebook or LinkedIn mission.

Facebook and LinkedIn constrains connecting. Users have to confirm the relationship via knowing the other party's email. However, for many users, their list has creeped into thousands of friends anyway. 

As Facebook opens the flood-gates on the number of friends, some fear that Facebook will become another Twitter. (or worse, Myspace)

How do we prevent the Facebook feed  from becoming a torrent of noise like Twitter? 

Read on.

AI Basics Apply

In AI, we use programs to simulate the behavior of the human mind - using very limited programming methods. How does the mind store information?

Have you ever said, "top right drawer" in response to a question? The mind seems to map thousands of things into geographic cabinets.

How do we recall people? Have you ever met an old friend in a different setting and struggled to recall the name? A soccer coach at the theater in San Francisco or a work acquaintence dressed in shorts at a park?

The mind groups friends, events, and phases in your life. When reminded of some piece, whole scenes, conversations, and events can replay in your mind. When presented with a Doo Wop song, dozens of others come to mind. Without the stimulus, that section of the human storage stays dormant, forgotten.

What Does This Have to Do with the Facebook Change?

I meander. The answer is simple.
  • Go to the Friends section of Facebook and create folders that Facebook calls lists. 
  • Start with simple lists like family, friends, work, church, sex partners, whatever...
  • The folders can also be chronological by schools, towns, or places where you have lived.
  • Start putting friends into lists. A friend can be parts of multiple lists. The list does not have to be exhaustive - meaning absolutely finding everyone among the thousands. Conversely, not every friend needs to belong to a list. 
  • I have a list called Misc for people who asked to connect who I didn't know. That list is half of my Facebook contacts. As I've gotten to know people, I move them to other folders.
  • I have a dozen lists. You can have more or less.
Once you've put a dozen names in each list, take another look at the new Facebook feed. Click on the lists on the left. Facebook calls them filters. It's really messages by friend groups.

Be pleasantly surprised by the result. 

Each list brings new meaning to the streams. Work tells you what associates are thinking. AYSO brings up the soccer chatter among friends. And the Boston brings back the memories from 30 years ago at MIT. The mind stimulates and adjusts as you scan the chatter in each list.


Try it. Tell me what you see in your streams.

And LinkeIn, it's time you stepped up and solve the technical challenge to do the same.

PS: Writers at Techcrunch, ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, AlleyInsider, etc - feel free to link and acknowledge the source, this time. Thanks.

CLIP At SXSWi, Twitter is the new Twitter is the new Twitter

Ed: Compare Yahoo's homepage to Twitter. Yahoo serves too many purposes and can't satisfy anyone. Twitter does one thing well.

from Webware.com by 

AUSTIN, Texas--A couple of days ago I wrote a story suggesting that the Twitter saturation level here at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) festival was so high that the service's value was being affected.

Now, after four full days here, I think that conclusion is worth a reality check: Twitter is out-and-out dominatingSXSWi.

To be sure, the massive numbers of tweets that are being posted using the "#sxsw" tag is making it more difficult for those using Twitter to find specific information than was the case at SXSWi 2007 or SXSWi 2008. But the reality is, if you're part of the conference this year, it feels very much like you simply cannot do anything, go anywhere, talk to anyone, see any panel or have a meal without Twitter having played a role.

From the 32bit party Monday night to people's reactions to science-fiction author Bruce Sterling's annual SXSWi rant to alerts of free ice cream being handed out on the streets of Austin, the collective agenda is being directed in 140-character bursts, even if it takes a little more work to find out what you want to find out.

Add that to the fact that the iPhone has proven a magical and nearly ubiquitous device on which to conduct that 140-character orchestra, and you've got a seriously hard-to-topple-off-the-throne combination.

Of course, there are many other communications media at play here. Besides the introduction of FourSquare, the launch of iPhone interactivity for Facebook Connect and other social networking services like Britekite, Whrrl and Meebo, there's certainly been no shortage of e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging and, believe it or not, phone calls.

But through it all, Twitter is the backbone. It is the organizing principle of SXSWi. And while the SXSWi crowd would seem to be the vanguard of this level of all-encompassing Twitter devotion, it is clear that this is just the proving ground for what will be coming for many other parts of connected society.

After all, just a year ago, nearly all of the most-followed Twitter users were members of the digerati. Now, it'snearly all mainstream celebrities or personalities. Can Twitter handle this? I don't think anyone knows.

But what I'm seeing here at SXSWi is that the service, even without a developed revenue stream and even with a recent history of functional instability and even with so much traffic that it can simply be overwhelming, has become indispensable. Take Twitter away from the crowd here suddenly, and I think the conference would grind to a halt.

It would recover, and pretty quickly. This is an resourceful group of people. There are other options. No one should believe for a minute that the advent of Twitter or other social media neuters the digerati's ability to communicate with traditional analog tools. But if Twitter were suddenly gone, there would be one heck of a hiccup.

Last year, I wrote that despite many companies' desire to repeat the incredible debut Twitter had at SXSWi 2007, there was no denying that Twitter circa 2008 was the new Twitter.

And despite my misgivings about what is clearly a saturation problem, I have to conclude that here in Austin, in 2009, Twitter is once again the new Twitter.

Yahoo to streamline redesigned home page

from Webware.com by 

Yahoo's Burke Calligan

Yahoo's Burke Calligan

(Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET)

SUNNYVALE, Calif.--After getting an earful from disgruntled testers of its revamped home page, Yahoo is working on a new incarnation that will dramatically speed up access to e-mail.

The new home page, code-named Metro and due to launch later this year, will let users customize what they see and install a range of applications. But upon beginning "bucket testing" last September, in which different subsets of Yahoo users are involuntarily presented with variations of the new home page, Yahoo found out it was making it too difficult for people to continue with their accustomed practice of dropping by the page to scan for changes, said Burke Calligan, senior director product management for Yahoo front doors, in an interview at Yahoo headquarters here.

In particular, people were incensed that it took too many mouse clicks to glance at their e-mail inbox. But changes are coming to fix that, Calligan said.

"We have moderately addressed it in this round and we're going to radically address it in upcoming testing," Calligan said. "We've rethought the flow and design based on feedback we've gotten from users. I think users will...feel much better about it."

The change is part of a bigger discovery, that many Yahoo front page users want to keep abreast of events with updates a few times a day. "The biggest thing we've learned is that these are quick-hit check-ins--tell me what I want to know and let me see it quickly," Calligan said. "We developed a philosophy we call quick in, quick out."

Yahoo faces an enormous challenge with its Yahoo.com site, which despite the company's strategic troubles still is used by hundreds of millions of people monthly. Changing too fast or too deeply risks alienating users, but changing too slowly risks losing those members to challengers such as Facebook or iGoogle.

My Yahoo for power users
Another complication: Yahoo already has a customizable home page, My Yahoo. The company has a plan for keeping the two properties relevant, though: as Yahoo.com becomes more flexible, the Internet company will reposition My Yahoo for sophisticated users who demand even more customization such as themes and movable modules, Calligan said.

"We'll move the mass market to the Yahoo front page," he said. My Yahoo will be "the powerful high-end product for the users who really want to go to the nth degree."

For the main home page, Yahoo has opted to proceed cautiously to avoid shedding loyal users.

Yahoo redesign, home page

Yahoo is testing a new home page. The new site is more personalized and customizable. This version is a 'baseline' for user testing; Yahoo will add more features later. (Click to enlarge.)

(Credit: Yahoo)

"You want to bring them along with you. You have to find the right things that are familiar but innovative. We walk that line," Calligan said. "We want to make sure we don't miss on something major that's going to cause retention issues."

So far, Yahoo hasn't seen overall problems retaining that loyalty among those in testing, he said. And the company has seen improvements in both page views and time spent on the site.

"Overall the story is positive and heading in the right direction. With our refinements we hope to push it further," he said.

Easier reconfiguration
That doesn't mean the company isn't learning from its missteps, though. Another change: Yahoo has made configuring the applications easier. A cautious start required people to fill out forms for the customizable list of services on the left edge of Metro. Now, though, Yahoo has moved to more of a design in which changes can be made on the fly.

Calligan is particularly proud of a new horoscope application that lets people add a different sign of the Zodiac to their pages. The only drawback of the faster approach: settings are stored locally on the computer, so logging in elsewhere won't show the same horoscope. A similar change was made with the weather report module.

"When we originally launched, we were thinking users would want to sign in and store locations as part of a Yahoo profile. But a lot of people wanted to just add cities without signing in," he said.

One internal advantage for Yahoo is that Metro's customizable interface will be simpler to manage internationally. Today, "We have 30-plus front pages. This puts us all on the same platform but allows for local customization," Calligan said.

Mar 16, 2009

U.K. Online Ad Spend Up 17% in Q4, but Growth Slowing

from ClickZ News Blog

clickz_ukandeu.gifU.K. ad spend declined across all mediums besides online during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to numbers released today by the World Advertising Research Center on behalf of the Advertising Association.

Despite advertiser cutbacks, the report states that online achieved a 17.3 percent year-on-year increase in spend during Q4 - substantial growth when compared with newspaper spend which suffered a 12 percent fall, and TV which accrued a 4.9 percent decrease. Online growth did slow dramatically, however, falling from a 39.5 percent increase between Q4 '06 and Q4 '07.

Overall, total U.K. ad spend fell by 3.9 percent in 2008, while spending in Q4 recorded a decline of 9.6 percent year-on-year.

Twitter and UK newspaper websites

from Hitwise Intelligence - Analyst Weblogs by 

Last week (w/e 14/03/09) Twitter.com was the 54th most visited website in the UK, up from 66th the week before. One consequence of Twitter rapid rise up the rankings is that the micro-blogging service has now overtaken most of the UK newspapers online. As the chart below illustrates, last week Twitter received more UK Internet visits than the homepages of the GuardianTimesSun and Telegraph. It also over took Google News UK. Of the main newspaper homepages, only the Daily Mail received more UK Internet visits than Twitter last week.


There are few caveats here, the first relating to how we categorize newspaper websites within Hitwise. Wherever possible we split out topic specific domains for the newspapers, particularly the broadsheets (e.g. Times Online - BusinessTelegraph SportTechnology Guardian, etc.). Consequently the traffic illustrated in the chart above refers only to the newspapers’ main homepages; although in every case these do receive the majority each title’s visits.

However, it is also important to point out that we are only measuring traffic to the Twitter homepage and not hits via third party applications such as Tweetdeck or Twitterrific. Given that some people claim that these exceed the direct hits via the website, it is also fair to say that actual Twitter usage is higher than our numbers imply. Therefore, even taking all of these caveats into accounts, the trend is clear: in the UK, Twitter now receives more UK Internet traffic than most of the main newspaper websites and is growing at a faster rate.

Although Twitter is a news source for many, it is also a source of traffic for news websites. During February, 9.6% of Twitter’s downstream traffic went to News and Media websites, and 41% of that went to the News and Media – Print sub-category, which is dominated by the newspaper sites. The chart below illustrates the top News and Media – Print websites to receive traffic from Twitter over the last year. As you can see, the Guardian currently receives more traffic than any of its competitors. And not only is its homepage the top recipient of Twitter traffic, but three of its sections (Technology, Comment is Free, and Media) also appear in the top 10.

CLIP: Social Media Marketing Up During Recession

Web Strategy by Jeremiah by 


I’m sitting across the street from the SXSW convention center, yesterday the organizer Hugh Forrest told me that attendees to the Interactive portion (a great deal with a focus on social) was up aprox 20% (just an approximation). I’ve seen many social media strategists (see list) here at the conference that are here to network with the influencers, get educated at the sessions, and to soak in what community really means.

During a recession, marketers are often forced to reduce budgets, in fact, it’s often one of the first buckets to get trimmed. In our latest research, we found that 53% of marketers are determined to increase their social media budget during a recession. Why? The reasons are obvious, it’s inexpensive, the opportunity to benefit from cost-effective word-of-mouth and of course, it’s where many marketers see the future.

Now this doesn’t mean that budgets are expanding immensely, since this is a ‘new’ media, these are small budgets. How small? Three-quarters of marketers have $100,000 of less budgeted for social media marketing.

Even though the budgets are small and growing, we recommend to our clients, in order to be successful, not to approach social media marketing as experimental, but to put the right roles, process, and measurement capabilities in place to be effective. Remember, the most expensive cost isn’t the tools, the most expensive part is the soft costs: strategy, education, process, roles, measurement).

Key Takeaway? Social media budgets are small, but are growing during a recession, yet brands shouldn’t approach this as an experiment, and should have a proper strategy complete with objectives, roles, processes, and measurement.

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