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Apr 23, 2009

Spreadtweet Makes Twitter Look Like Excel

Social Network

On Friday, Oprah Winfrey fumbled her way to her first tweetlive on TV, assisted by humble, lovable Twitter C.E.O. Evan Williams. For Internet hipsters, it was the end of an era. For Twitter, it was only the beginning: Oprah’s co-hosts immediately spotted the service’s potential for neighbors to alert each other to escaped convicts and sexual predators on the block.

But mainstream Twitter fans face a hurdle: Can you use it at work without being caught? The British Web developer Elliott Kember has solved the problem with Spreadtweet, an easy-to-use Twitter client that looks like a boring Excel spreadsheet.

Spreadtweet screenshot.

Not only is it a clever way to dodge the boss, but Spreadtweet is also a clean, efficient way to send and receive tweets. I use it at home, because its text-only, small-font interface fits each tweet onto one fake row of Excel. I can scan dozens of tweets more quickly than I could with more graphics-happy tools like Digsby or TweetDeck.

Mr. Kember maintains three versions of Spreadtweet that mimic Office 2003, Office 2007 and, for Apple computers, Office 2008. You can run any version on any PC or Mac, though, because they’re all built with Adobe’s AIR software toolkit that removes the usual software compatibility headaches.

Spreadtweet will install and run itself in under 30 seconds. It prompts for your Twitter username and password, then populates a fake spreadsheet with the latest tweets from Twitterers whom you follow.

Each version of the program displays a fake Excel toolbar atop its window. But those buttons don’t work. The real controls are hiding just below as fake column headers: Home, Replies, Direct Messages, etc. On my Apple desktop, Spreadtweet mimics Excel to the point of placing an Excel icon into my iMac’s Dock, so anyone watching from further away than a cubicle wall will be fooled.

The very existence of Spreadtweet suggests Twitter is headed for the same workplace showdown as Web browsers in 1993, or Facebook in 2006: Is it better to let employees play a bit with the latest Internet fad, or have self-described early adopters found yet another way to goof off on the job? I think the answer is “Yes!”

Android Catches Up To Palm In Mobile Ad Market Share. IPhone Still Blows It Away.

from TechCrunch by 

Android is making steady gains in mobile ad market share, accounting for 6 percent of all mobile ad requests measured by AdMob in its latest March metrics (full report embedded below). That puts it neck and neck with the Palm OS, compared to a 5 percent /7 percent share split in favor of Palm just one month before.. Windows Mobile Devices also saw a share decline from 13 percent to 11 percent, while Blackberry’s RIM OS gained a point to 22 percent, and the iPhone stayed the same at 50 percent.

AdMob measures ad requests from both mobile browsers and mobile apps, thus its numbers are a good proxy for mobile Web usage (minus paid apps which don’t serve ads, of course). On a device level, the Android G1 (HTC Dream) actually overtook the Palm Centro, becoming the No. 4 smartphone in terms of Web usage in the U.S. (after the iPhone, the Blackberry 8300, and Blackberry 8100).

But the iPhone still dwarfs Android. As a point of comparison, AdMob measured 72 million ad requests for Android in March, 2009 versus 607 million for the iPhone in the U.S. Wordlwide, the iPhone had 995 million ad requests, and if you combine it with the iPod touch the total grows to 1.66 billion.

But is this even a fair comparison? The number of iPhones out there outnumber Android phones by nearly 20 to one (21 million iPhones have been sold to date, compared to estimates of about one million for the G1). Given these ratios, the disparity in Web usage measured by Admob makes sense. As more Android phones are introduced, that should help its numbers.

One major driver of ad requests on both platforms has been the proliferation of standalone apps. Admob measured the growth in ad requests following the launch of each app store on Android and on the iPhone, and found that the growth rate for the iPhone was 88 percent a month versus 47 percent for the Android. But both outgrew other platforms by a wide margin.

Once the Palm Pre comes out and the Blackberry App Store gains more traction, it will be interesting to see whether the relative strength of the iPhone and Android continue.

It's Getting Harder to Crack the Viral Video Chart

Ed: Some observations.

  • Do ad agencies integrate creative, PR, and media for clients?
  • Despite the popularity of T-Mobile and Samsung's ads, they need to work on their products. Good publicity does not replace great design - as AT&T Wireless and Apple iPhone is outperforming despite the viral ads.
What People Watched the Week of April 13, 2009

NEW YORK (Ad Age.com) -- Last week, the Ad Age viral video chart illustrated T-Mobile's staying power -- its "Dance" spot that debuted in January was still no 2. This week's views, at 748,855, were 1% higher than last week's -- good enough to disrupt the three-week chart-topping streak Samsung and its LED-draped sheep enjoyed.

Samsung dropped to no. 2 while Burger King's ode to SpongeBob and Cadbury's "Eyebrow Dance" hung onto the three and four spots, respectively. But new to the chart is a video promoting Head tennis rackets and starring Novak Djokovic (and his chest), Microsoft's "Laptop Hunters" campaign and the "Fast Food Folk Song," created as part of a Mountain Dew Baja Blast promotion.

The data, as always, is compiled by Visible Measures and includes the most recent week's views -- not total views over the entire life of a campaign. One change over the first threecharts? The threshold to break into the top 10 is higher this week, at 271,985 views. Perhaps it's a one-week anomaly, perhaps it's due to increased usage of online video or social-sharing tools. Regardless, we'll be watching to see if that trend continues in the weeks to come.

Last WeekBrandCampaignAgencyCurrent Week Views*% Change in Views**Watch the Spot
12T-MobileT-Mobile DanceSaatchi & Saatchi, MediaCom748,855+1%T-Mobile: Dance
21SamsungExtreme Sheep LED ArtThe Viral Factory707,345-37%Samsung: Extreme Sheep LED Art
33Burger KingSpongeBobCrispin Porter & Bogusky625,852+14%Burger King: SpongeBob
44CadburyEyebrow DanceFallon503,372+15%Cadbury: Eyebrow Dance
5NewHeadNovak Djokovic Scores On and OffAimaq Rapp Stolle/Feed Company488,806New to chartHead: Novak Djokovic Scores On and Off
6NewMicrosoftLaptop HuntersCrispin Porter & Bogusky478,831New to chartMicrosoft: Laptop Hunters
75GeicoIt's the Gecko/ Numa NumaThe Martin Agency, Horizon Media403,062+4%Geico: It's the Gecko/Numa Numa
87Wilkinson SwordMow the LawnJWT, New York378,474+45%Wilkinson Sword: Mow the Lawn
9Back on ChartRay-BanNever HideCutwater358,617Back on chartRay-Ban: Never Hide
10NewMountain Dew Baja BlastFast Food Folk Song (at the Taco Bell Drive-Thru)Feed Company271,985New to chartMountain Dew Baja Blast: Fast Food Folk Song

Apr 21, 2009

Land Rover, Ford Fiesta Taps Twitter, Bloggers as Campaign Cornerstone

'Hashtags,' Fledgling Ad Network Help Get the Word out Across Microblogging Site

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Land Rover last week became the first national brand to execute a national Twitter campaign in a bid to promote its newest models' debuts at the New York Auto Show.

While brands as diverse as Southwest Airlines and Smirnoff vodka have been tweeting and accumulating followers for months, Land Rover attempted to use the burgeoning social-media platform in a more ambitious way, seeding so-called hashtags (words used in tweets that make it easier to follow an ongoing conversation via online searches) on billboards, taxi TVs and other out-of-home venues; spreading word of the Twitter effort through auto-obsessed blogs and online publications eager for a peek at its latest bells and whistles; and paying a fledgling Twitter ad network to spread the word among its army of compensated, heavily followed Twitter users, all of whom wallpapered their Twitter profiles with Land Rover branding.

James Eliason, CEO of Twittad
James Eliason, CEO of Twittad

While it's too early to know what sort of return Land Rover will receive for its efforts, "it cost us virtually nothing," said Keith Rhodes, VP and account director at WPP-owned direct-marketing firm Wunderman, which orchestrated the effort.

Mr. Rhodes said he was particularly encouraged by the Twitter-fueled traffic to a blog post he wrote about Land Rover's initiative. Posts on his site typically draw about 30 views; this one grabbed more than 200,000 views.

Land Rover is not likely to remain the only national marketer doing this for long, said James Eliason, CEO of Twittad, the Des Moines-based "social-media affinity network" Wunderman tapped to boost Land Rover's launch.

Mr. Eliason said the next national effort using Twittad's roster of 4,500 Tweeters, whom it pays to post on topics and brand their profile pages, with nearly 5 million followers, will be for Elations, a glucosamine-enhanced beverage from the makers of Sunny Delight targeted at women over 40.

Twitter machine
All told, the Land Rover effort was Twittered to more than 300,000 followers, Mr. Eliason said. Twittad used 15 different Tweeters with at least 5,000 followers, although the majority had between 2,000 and 4,000 followers.

Most won't get rich doing this anytime soon. One paid Tweeter,willconley777, wrote on his blog that he was paid $2.50 for letting Land Rover sponsor his profile page for seven days. Mr. Conley has 1,160 followers. Still, for those few Twitter users with huge reach, real money might one day be possible. The most-followed Land Rover campaign participant, queenoftheclick, boasts nearly 25,000 followers and was paid an amount "in the hundreds" for her participation, Mr. Eliason said.

Other larger-scale marketers are also eyeing Twittad, which is in talks with Sears.

The appeal to marketers is obvious: It's a cheap way to reach people through their trusted contacts. And Twittad's technology is able to sort its users by geography, demographics and interests, which can both lead to more targeted appeals and, perhaps, prevent Twitter users from feeling under siege by advertisers, a major concern.

"We were worried it would be considered spam, but we didn't get a single complaint [about Land Rover]," Mr. Eliason said. "What that tells me is that our connectors have influence."

Less clear is whether the model is sustainable. Mr. Eliason, who launched Twittad eight months ago, said he expects it to break even by the end of its first year. He said he has contacted Twitter about a revenue-sharing agreement but has yet to hear back.

Ford Is Counting on Army of 100 Bloggers to Launch New Fiesta

Automaker Lends New Models to Trendsetters for Six Months as Part of Huge Social-Media Push

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In an aggressive social-media program that goes far beyond what Ford has done in the past -- and reaches beyond just the marketing department -- the automaker is counting on 100 bloggers to introduce its new Fiesta, which is set to reach U.S. dealers in early 2010. The idea behind Fiesta Movement is to get the model's target audience to drive and, hopefully, chatter about the car for months to come.

THE MOVEMENT: Ford hopes to build buzz for new Fiesta among target audience.
THE MOVEMENT: Ford hopes to build buzz for new Fiesta among target audience.

The Fiesta is Ford's global subcompact vehicle and was designed in Europe, where it's been on sale since August 2008. The diminutive hatchback (a sedan will be launched here) seeks to provide stylish transportation in a small package with low acquisition cost, high fuel efficiency and cues that appeal to young consumers.

Ford is loaning 100 German-built Fiestas to social-media trendsetters for six months. The 100 "Fiesta agents," chosen from 4,000 who applied online, will share their experiences behind the wheel, completing monthly, themed missions from travel to social activism; posting videos; and updating their friends and followers on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. The participants begin training with their Fiestas in late April, and they will begin receiving the cars in the first week of May.

The idea was born last summer when Ford VP-Marketing Jim Farley rhetorically asked Fiesta Product Manager Sam De La Garza, "What could we do with 1,000 [Fiestas] in the U.S.?"

Considering the car's target audience and the likelihood of extra production capacity from the European Fiesta launch, Mr. De La Garza and the company's brand and content alliance team asked Ford's coordinating agency, JWT, to brainstorm a social-media campaign. JWT contacted think tank Undercurrent, and the pair devised the Fiesta Movement as a 100-person test drive.

Product trust
"We realized that the message is increasingly out of our control and that we have to roll with it," Mr. De La Garza said. "For us it all rests on the quality of this product. We've all driven the Fiesta, and we felt so confident about the car that we could start this. We're going to allow people to tell the story [of the Fiesta] from their lives."

Faith in a product or no, trusting it enough to unleash 100 to regular consumers and ask them to offer honest thoughts and reviews is a leap for most marketers. It will require a new kind of corporate responsiveness and flexibility, said Scott Monty, Ford's director-social media.

"No matter how well you plan for something like this, something else always comes up," he said. "This is not only an experiment for Ford in terms of a marketing program; it's an experiment for us in terms of how we react to how the market picks up on it."

Early signs indicate a ripple effect from simply signing agents to the Fiesta Movement. Mr. De La Garza said several of those selected have already gotten interviews with regional newspapers or TV stations based on their acceptance into the program.

The Fiesta Movement extends beyond marketing, since the company had to modify the 100 European-built vehicles to meet U.S. emissions and safety requirements. Both Ford and the EPA will use data gathered form the program, such as city and highway miles per gallon, for future manufacturer global platform launches. Ford is building the Fiesta as a "global" car that can, with minor tweaking, meet differing requirements in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

"The scary thing is we're opening the door for European-based car companies to say, 'Ford did this [with a Euro-spec car]; let's do it too,'" Mr. De La Garza said.

According to Scott Monty, JWT will undertake the bulk of reviewing/posting online content generated by Fiesta agents, while mining data with the new metrics made possible through social media. Attributable Fiesta sales will definitely be a yardstick for success. So, too, will the life of the Fiesta Movement beyond the test drive.

Fortune 500: Media Some Of The Biggest Losers

Ed: Consistent with our themes:

  • Newspapers are under water with paper costs greater than revenues
  • Broadcast media is next - with high costs relative to revenues
  • Web media dominates, but still challenged by effective monetization

imageLast year was one of the toughest ever for the 500 largest American companies —combined they lost over $500 billion—and media companies, unsurprisingly, are near the top of the list. Total U.S. advertising fell 4.1 percent last year, according to ZenithOptimedia, and since the majority of media companies make most of their revenue from advertising, it makes sense that three of the largest—Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), CBS (NYSE: CBS), and Gannett (NYSE: GCI)—made the top fifteen losers together, losing nearly $32 billion last year. Few media sectors were spared and most media companies took huge writedowns to assets they until recently viewed as far more valuable than they were worth. Highlights:

Time Warner (#48; #9 biggest loser) lost $13.4 billion last year. Much of this was due to a $25 billion writedown of the media conglomerate's cable, publishing (Fortune parent Time.Inc.) and online businesses. Warner Brothers held up fairly well; The Dark Knight in the theaters and Two and a Half Men on TV drove solid results from that division.

CBS Corp. (#10 biggest loser; #186) lost $11.7 billion last year, almost all of it from writedowns of its TV station assets ($10 billion). The network scored points for beating out NBC, ABC, and FOX in total ratings, but advertisers are cooling on TV and with heavy programming and distribution costs weakening ad revenue turns into poor profits.

Gannett (#371; #14 biggest loser) lost $6.6 billion in 2008. Like TV it costs a lot to produce and distribute a newspaper and since many have burdensome union requirements newspapers saw their profits plummet in 2008. Gannett's $2.1 billion writedown of its UK newspaper assets and $4.4 billion writedown of its US newspaper assets didn't help either.

So far 2009 doesn't appear to be starting off any better. Many analysts believe Q109 could be worse for media companies than Q408. Gannett said its profit plunged nearly 60 percent in the first quarter and many point to similarly challenged results across most media companies.


Newser's Michael Wolff: In 18 Months, 80 Percent Of Newspapers Will Be Gone—Give Or Take….

imageMedia columnist Michael Wolff certainly knows an attention-getting quote. Appearing with Air America CEO Bennett Zier and CraigsList's Craig Newmark in a panel discussion sponsored by Gotham Media Ventures, the head of aggregation site Newser, predicted that big media, whether it's newspapers or conglomerates, are just months away from the dustbin of history. "About 18 months from now, 80 percent of newspapers will be gone. The Washington Post is supported by Kaplan's testing business. The testing business will still be around in 18 months, and they will probably continue to support the newspaper. But that'll be an exception."

Later on, Wolff was challenged by a devoted, if vehement, NYT reader over some criticisms he didn't make, he was pressed on whether the NYTwould survive. He conceded that he was being a bit hyperbolic, but was dead serious when he said, "The NYT will not be owned by the same company 18 months from now. I stand by that."

As many before him have done, Wolff pinned the cause of newspapers' impending death on CraigsList, which took away newspapers' auto, jobs and real estate ads. Newmark shook his head at that, saying that newspapers did not fulfill the public's trust. "They failed on that weapons of mass destruction thing. And they failed on that financial collapse thing," Newmark protested. Wolff: "CraigsList did it by taking away the ads. And they did it for good or bad, I would say for the better. They distribute ads more efficiently. But that's what supported newspapers for 100 years. People don't want to pay for content. And you could argue newspapers haven't done their jobs. But that's separate from the real story. They were supported by those three legs and they have gone to Craig's List. 18 months from now, 80 percent of newspapers will be gone. "

The panel, which took place at the back of the Samsung Experience store in the Time Warner Center, Wolff also forecast that in another 18 months, the media and entertainment company's home—which houses a mall filled with luxury retailers—would also fade from the scene.

Apr 20, 2009

Pushed By Celebrities, Twitter Is Poised To Double Its Monthly Traffic Once Again

198529double-impact-postersI know, you’re sick of Twitter data. But more keeps rolling in showcasing just how massive last week was for Twitter. The Kutcher/CNN race to a million on top of Oprah showcasing the service on Friday, likely was the biggest week ever for the service. And here’s some data to back that up.

The week before the Kutcher/CNN race, Kutcher’s Twitter page got about 176,000 pageviews, according to numbers provided to us by Compete. Last week, his pageviews rose to an incredible 3.2 million — yes, that is just for his Twitter profile page. In the same time span, CNNbrk (the account racing Kutcher) went from 61,000 pageviews to over 900,000. And Oprah, the latecomer, went from 5,000 pageviews (before she ran the account), to over 980,000 — which is perhaps even more incredible considering she made her debut on Friday of last week.

Now, Compete’s numbers are sometimes quite a bit off, but the trends are the key here. Overall Twitter.com traffic went from 367 million to over 420 million for the week in terms of pageviews. Meanwhile, unique views went from just over 8 million, to over 10 million. The pageviews on Twitter’s signup page alone nearly doubled for the week.

These celebrities are having an amazing effect on Twitter’s growth. We crunched some numbers earlier today suggesting that perhaps over a million users signed up for Twitter following Oprah’s show.

“Twitter is poised to explode once again this month and will likely finish up over 30 million UVs for this month. If that happens they will double their March numbers and jump from #72 in our ranking into the Top 20,” according to a Compete analyst. That comes just a month after it already more than doubled its unique views (at least in the US) last month.

Wow. And remember, this data is only for Twitter’s website, it doesn’t include any of the usage from third-party sites/services (thanks, Max). Find the full web traffic chart below.


In-Stat: 66.3 Million US TV Viewers are Simultaneously Using a PC, Twitter While Watching TV

Over 66 million consumers across demographic categories are using the Internet while camped out on their sofas watching TV, according to market research firm In-Stat. Based on In-Stat’s recent survey, 33% of all male respondents, across age groups, reported that they are sometimes using a personal computer simultaneously while watching TV. Among some male age groups the behavior was as high as 50%. In contrast, about 25% of female respondents reported using a PC while watching TV.

Consumer multitasking represents an important emerging opportunity for the TV industry. Local TV stations, TV networks, pay-TV networks, 24-hour news networks, sports leagues, and music channels, can instantly connect to some of their viewers, right now, on both the TV screen and on a laptop computer screen.

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

  • One-fifth of all respondents reported doing instant messaging while watching TV, with similar responses among females and males.
  • US consumers could drop spending on mobile, broadband and pay TV services by nearly $5 billion due to economic turmoil.
  • About 15% of US respondents intend to cut back spending on subscription-TV, broadband, and mobile services in response to economic pressures.

The research, “US TV Viewers Response to Economic Turmoil” (#IN0904557CM), covers TV viewing habits in the US. It includes:

  • Analysis of impact of current economic downturn on consumer behavior regarding TV viewing, broadband use, and spending across mobile, broadband and subscription TV.
  • Results and analysis of a late 2008 US consumer survey on TV viewing,Internet usage habits and multitasking while watching TV.
  • Examination of consumers’ interest in Internet TV services.
  • Exploration of new hybrid “Lite” subscription TV services.
  • Detailed demographic segmentation.

Apr 19, 2009

Scottish Singer's Audition Video Sets Online Record

Susan Boyle's Performance Viewed Over 66 Million Times In One Week

By Jose Antonio VargasWashington Post Staff Writer 
Sunday, April 19, 2009; 7:29 AM

Susan Boyle is headed for the history books.

The online video of Boyle's performance in the reality show "Britain's Got Talent" has set the record for the number of views in a week -- and shows no sign of stopping.

According to Visible Measures, which tracks videos from YouTube, MySpace and other video-sharing sites, Boyle's audition has generated 66.3 million views. On YouTube alone, it's been viewed more than 30 million times. The 7-minute video that was posted on YouTube last Saturday and then widely circulated online easily eclipsed more high-profile videos that have been around for months. Tina Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin has clocked in 34.2 million views, said the folks at Visible Measures, while President Obama's victory speech on election night has generated 18.5 million views. In less than a week, Boyle topped them.

But it's not just online video where Boyle, the unassuming woman from a tiny Scottish town, has dominated. Over the weekend, her Facebook fan page was flooded with comments, at some points adding hundreds of new members within a minute. The page listed 150,000 members on 1 p.m. Friday. It grew to 850,000 by 6 a.m. Sunday. Her Wikipedia entry has attracted nearly half a million page views since it was created last Sunday.

Indeed, the Internet is her stage, and the 47-year-old who has said she's never heard of YouTube is the Web's hottest entertainer. "She's really the world's singer right now," said Julie Supan, a YouTube spokesperson who in her four years at the company cannot remember a video raking in this many views in such a period of time.

One view at a time, Boyle's audience is proving that the social Web -- where users aren't just mere viewers but also distributers -- makes the digital world feel smaller and more connected. And her global popularity is a testament that the marriage between old media (her performance first aired on Britisn television) and new media (it then made its way to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook) is broadening the reach of all media, from one channel to the next, one person at a time.

As a result, at any given moment, someone is passing along Boyle online.

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