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Showing posts from March, 2011

Google: +1 on Search Links, -1 on Ad Clicks

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This post was also published in VentureBeat. Google has finally unveiled its +1 social initiative, largely aimed at stemming Facebook’s ability to learn what links are relevant to others in a social graph. The Google +1 implementation, where people can recommend individual items within search results, is definitely a step in the right direction. However, it could also hurt Google’s revenue stream — I predict that adding a +1 option to keyword ads will have a negative effect on clickthrough rates.

Google has been gradually embedding interactivity in search results, lately even asking directly in search results if a particular Twitter handle is yours. The new +1 feature harkens back to a 2008 Google experiment that mimicked Digg’s interface and let users move search results up and down, and even comment on them.



This new feature where users can directly like particular search result links definitely will help Google better rank search results by involving crowdsourced humans instead of…

How friend clusters could make Facebook intimate again

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This post was also published in VentureBeat. For a so-called social utility, Facebook has been getting more and more useless.

At first, Facebook friend overload was an early-adopter problem for overnetworked Silicon Valley insiders. But now, friend overload is hitting the mainstream consciousness. Many people who have been using Facebook for a few years find themselves inundated with friend requests by everyone from elementary school classmates to work colleagues. The resulting mess of casual acquaintances on Facebook has quickly overwhelmed newsfeeds with uninteresting minutiae and people you really don’t care to see.

In response, there has been a lot of recent activity by startups exploring concepts related to small groups of friends. Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley has long talked about how his location-based service has a more “real” social graph — people with whom you’re willing to share your location. Path is run by Dave Morin, a well-known ex-Facebook employee, and is delivering…

Why sentiment analysis is the future of ad optimization

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This post was also published in VentureBeat. Sentiment analysis is a hot new trend in social media, with the promise of helping brands understand what consumers are thinking and saying about their products. Products including early contender Radian 6, newcomers such as BuzzLogic, and my own company’s Webtrends Social Measurement product are becoming pervasive in marketing organizations. But while consumer sentiment is important, what’s much more important is revenue.

When revenue is down 10%, “but people like us!” is not an acceptable response from the head of marketing. Sentiment analysis isn’t a solution unto itself, but it can be highly useful as a realtime feedback loop for advertising effectiveness and may soon be able to predict advertising results.

In the Mad Men-era heyday of mass marketing, marketing spend was impossible to quantify. TV, magazine, radio and billboard ads were purchased, and it was very difficult if not impossible to track exactly the return on investment of …

FarmVille 2? Why Zynga needs to start making sequels, fast

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This post was also published in VentureBeat.Do your best impersonation of a movie-trailer voice-over artist and say it: “FarmVille 2. This time, it’s agricultural.”

That’s right: Like the Hollywood studios of old, like the stodgy makers of console games before it, Zynga, the San Francisco-based publisher of social games like CityVille, Mafia Wars, FrontierVille, and FarmVille, is inevitably going to get into the sequel business.



Zynga has been a phenomenal success story with continuing growth, incredible profits, and big investments from major players. If things continue, it will soon be the most valuable gaming company — even though it’s still privately held and rivals like Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard are publicly traded. Despite the carping from some corners, Zynga’s success is well deserved, as it figured out the twin precepts of the new era of casual gaming: incremental gameplay through virtual-good acquisitions and asynchronous cooperative gameplay with friends.

Zynga ha…