Google's autocomplete search recommendations have spawned a new Internet meme. And before you keep reading, let me warn you: this post could rob you of your productivity today.
The authors of a new book on real-time marketing outline how brands can be part of cultural conversations without looking like idiots.
Real-time and automation are a dangerous combination
Twitter plans to roll out a free real-time analytics dashboard in the fourth quarter, said Ross Hoffman of the company’s business development team at a conference yesterday. Hoffman said Twitter would start a phased rollout of the dashboard to show users information about how their tweets are spreading and who is influential in their network. WebTrends caught the remark in a session at the Sports Marketing 2.0 Summit and cornered Hoffman for further deets.
The world of search is changing before our eyes - from one where there is one right answer for all people at a specific instant to another where an answer to one's query can differ based on who they are, their social graph, their location, or even the time of day. No matter how fantastic the algorithms, combined with measured human editing, the assumption that there are "correct" responses to single word queries or short phrases for all is practically gone. That's why users are increasingly using multiple search terms in their queries, and modifying the searches until they find a satisfactory result. Pile on the conundrum of how to approach the world of real-time, social feedback, and geolocation, and a simple If A then B problem starts to look a lot more like calculus.
A recent video interview with Nova Spivack, co-founder of LiveMatrix, discusses the notion of how the real-time web is facilitating a redefinition of what the ‘now’ is. While the immense increase in availability of data and information brought on by the evolution of the internet has the power to make us smarter, it also bears the possibility of overwhelming us as we struggle to keep up with the constant flow of new information into our lives. In his discussion of the evolving nature of what ‘now’ means to us, Spivack observes that, prior to the 20th century, society generally was preoccupied with the past, studying history and reflecting on that past. In the 20th century we became obsessed with the future, as reflected in the furious pace of inventions and cultural fascination with science fiction. However, the 21st century thus far feels to be very much about the present.
Everyone says Google doesn't "get" social media. What Google gets better than anyone else in the world, though, is search - combine the two and the company may have found a winning recipe. Today Google announced that its real time search feature now has its own home page at Google.com/realtime and a number of new features. The new Google Realtime is well executed, useful and certainly better than Twitter or Facebook's own search implementation to date. The downside? There's a lot that's missing that will limit the cool things that could be done with it.
Shopping giant Amazon bought online auction phenomenon Woot today, and given the relative sizes of the companies, it can only be a move made with long-term Amazon strategy in mind. Earlier this afternoon we wrote about the deal as a victory for freaks and a marriage of light- and heavy-weight supply chains, but there's something else going on here, too. Woot is bringing real-time social shopping to Amazon.
In the realm of marketing, Gatorade is probably best known for splashy commercials featuring some of the world’s most famous athletes. However, a new effort behind the scenes of the PepsiCo-owned sports drink maker is putting social media quite literally at the center of the way Gatorade approaches marketing. The company recently created the Gatorade Mission Control Center inside of its Chicago headquarters, a room that sits in the middle of the marketing department and could best be thought of as a war room for monitoring the brand in real-time across social media.
Is the Real-Time Web making news consumption better or worse? In a Wired magazine article, book author Nicholas Carr argues that the Internet is reducing our ability to comprehend content on the Web. In a separate blog post, Carr even suggests that websites and blogs should move hyperlinks from the body of an article to the bottom - apparently, links distract readers and cause them to understand an article less. I don't buy that particular argument, but it's clear that we need better strategies to cope with news overload. Particularly as these days we're not only getting more content, but getting it much faster.
Loyalty cards — those little paper cards that promise a free sandwich or coffee after 10 purchases, but instead get lost or forgotten — are going mobile. And merchants are looking for ways to marry the concept to games that customers can play to earn more free items and, it is hoped, spend more money. Instead of collecting paper cards and fumbling through wallets at the cash register, customers are increasingly using their cellphones to track their visits and purchases, and receive rewards.
On March 13, a Virgin America flight from Los Angeles to New York was diverted from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Stewart airport in Newburgh, N.Y., due to severe weather, and the passengers and crew waited in the plane on the tarmac for over four hours. The crew was anxious, babies were crying, mothers were anxious, and the passengers were unruly — to the point that one woman was taken off the plane by police. The entire ordeal was documented by David Martin, the CEO of Kontain.com, on his company's iPhone social-media application.
For most marketers, the growth of multicultural segments became a business imperative after the 2000 Census and the generational focus shifted from boomer to Gen Y. If you're managing a large brand today, you are likely addressing these opportunities through some combination of targeted Hispanic, African American or Asian, and youth-marketing initiatives. But today that segmentation is not enough; a bigger change is emerging that is more meaningful than just demography.
With another holiday season behind us, retailers are busy crunching sales data to measure success and year over year revenue. However, this is also a good time to assess your company’s brand experience. And if yours needs improvement, integrating offline and online marketing can help.
The term “real time” has become such a part of English that we have forgotten how unreal it sounds. Earlier this month, Google announced it would be adding real-time information to its search results, and we already expect real-time information about all sorts of other things: traffic, weather, stock quotes, flight tracking - for some reason, we feel we need to know about all the boring hassles of our lives with split-second precision. But when we’re telling stories, when we’re sharing personal, emotional information, we rely on “unreal times.” We want times that relate to experiences, not to abstractions.
We've become a nation of early adopters -- now can the consumer electronics industry lead the U.S. recovery? That's what CE manufacturers (who happen to include a few of the world's biggest consumer marketers) hope for as they gather in Las Vegas this week for the annual Consumer Electronics Show.
It’s hard to argue that 2009 wasn’t the year of Twitter. Yes, the questions about monetization loomed over the young web company as soon as it started gaining popularity, and they’re still largely unanswered. But people loved this new way of communicating via 140 character messages that go out to everyone who wants to hear them. So much so, that everything else (even money) wasn’t very important.
Social media is evolving quickly. What are the three trends on the horizon that business leaders absolutely must keep up with?
Google’s search results pages will never be the same. In an effort to secure the lead in its quest for dominance in “real time,” Google recently announced exclusive feed deals with Twitter and Facebook, delivering a punch to Microsoft which had just announced advances of its own in the social media realm of tweets and updates.
As you likely know, Tiger Woods was in an accident under apparently mysterious circumstances early Friday morning. Predictably, the reports and reactions thereto pertaining varied somewhat in quality and timeliness, and predictably, this has led to paroxysms of futurist glee in some and sullen condemnation by others. Now that the smoke has cleared, we can examine the event, which is certainly worth a little inspection despite its obvious triviality, with a little perspective. I’m not going to speculate on Woods’ injuries, the cause of the crash, or rumors of fights and affairs. I don’t care, personally. But how the information proliferated makes for interesting dissection. And the fun part is that there’s something for everybody’s agenda! Many will choose to ignore or emphasize unduly one party’s role in this drama, but the fact is that it very neatly exposes both the strengths and weaknesses of both traditional and so-called new media. I hope you’re sitting comfortably.
First of all: It’s going to be another interesting year. Has the global recession really, officially ended? And if so, will the aftermath cause pains for years to come? Whatever the outcome, we find ourselves spotting more recession-proof opportunities than ever before. Why? Consumers, recession-stricken or not, still value innovations that are pragmatic, or exciting, or those that save them money, or entertain them.... oh well, you get the picture.
Prior to keynoting the PACA conference in Miami, Maria Kessler, president of the PACA Association, asked me if I had read a recent post by Fred Wilson entitled “The Golden Triangle.” We were deep in conversation as I was seeking an alternate title for my next book that identifies the divide between brands, information, and consumers and how we can, as social architects and engineers, build the bridges between people, contextual relationships, and technology. While “The Golden Triangle” isn’t a contender for the name of the next book, it did get me thinking. In his brief, but thought-provoking article, Wilson identified the state of engagement, connectivity and interaction. And through a collaborative conversation in the comments thread, new opportunities for future innovation also surfaced.
New start-up Factery Labs is launching its first service on Tuesday, a technology called FactRank that can tear through Web pages and collect what it calls "facts." These are bits of information from each source page that Factery Labs' algorithm then organizes into an order of importance. What this means for you is that developers will soon make use of the technology in third-party search engines or on Web pages to very quickly deliver reading summaries. This cuts out most (or all) of the parts you don't care about, while organizing the bits you might. It also manages to do all this in real time.
Today our social rules seem to have been overloaded by our always on, always connected culture. Behaviours developed for the industrial age simply cannot cope with the new possibilities for information sharing.
The Twitter community is abuzz this week about the site's new "Lists" feature, which allows users to create collections of interesting people to follow on the micro-messaging service. From lists of sports stars to comedians to political pundits, Twitter has provided its members with the tools required to splice a torrent of updates into a series of relevant, topic-based streams. In doing so, the social networking startup may have hit upon the long-overdue cure to information overload and birthed a new breed of editor: the real-time Web curator.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt envisions a radically changed internet five years from now: dominated by Chinese-language and social media content, delivered over super-fast bandwidth in real time. Figuring out how to rank real-time social content is "the great challenge of the age," Schmidt said in an interview in front of thousands of CIOs and IT Directors at last week's Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Orlando 2009. Gartner is the largest and most respected analyst firm in the world and much of what Schmidt said in his 45 minute interview was directed specifically at business leaders, but we've excerpted 6 minutes that we believe is of interest to anyone who's touched by the web.
Balloon Boy, Kanye West and Lady Gaga Walk into a bar. Bartender says, "Hey, wait a second -- how old is that kid? You can't bring a kid in here!" Lady Gaga says nothing and just tries to keep a poker face, but you can tell she's pissed that the kid is getting all the attention. Kanye West says, "Yo Bartender, Imma let you finish, but ..." -- but then the bartender, fumbling with his cellphone, says, "Actually, hold that thought, I've gotta get a TwitPic of this!" First, though, he starts to tweet "Balloon Boy, Kanye West and La" -- but before he can finish, I grab the phone out of his hands and smash it to the ground while screaming, "Stop it!! For the love of God, just STOP IT!!" On Monday, I published a column about how the rapid dissemination of misinformation through Twitter and other real-time social media is increasingly causing a "general derangement of reality" that's "becoming more and more endemic to the way we consume information and communicate -- and think -- now." And that that social-media-enabled nonsense filtered back "through the prism of the worst of the old media -- particularly cable news channels and talk radio" -- is making us all a little bit nuts.
In our June 2009 Trend Briefing, we covered FOREVERISM. But even then, we pointed out that the need for everything that is (right) now/current/real-time, is being satisfied in numerous novel ways, with (wait for it) the online world showing the way forward. Dubbed 'NOWISM', this mega trend has, and will continue to have, a big impact on everything from your corporate culture to customer relationships to product innovation to tactical campaigns. And yet you probably only have a few minutes to spare on it so we’ve done our best to keep this Trend Briefing digestible.
This week, I moderated a session at SMX about real-time search. Personally, I find the convergence of social and search to be perhaps the most significant trend of 2009. Social adds an entirely new dimension to search. Traditionally search has been used to find "what" you wanted to know more about. Social adds the dimension of time. Suddenly, relevance isn't the only measure. Search now needs a "stale date," a measure of the freshness of the results.
Consider how business really gets done. A group of professionals agree to meet for lunch or perhaps dinner to discuss the details of a deal. Each of the members of the meeting is in a constant mode of signaling. Their body language, the tone of their voice, the grip of their handshake, their eye contact. These are each signals that we as human beings send to others. Some of us are better at influencing the conscious and unconscious signals we send. Some of us are more sensitive at picking up and deciphering the signals we receive. Body language experts discuss this signal exchange and measure them in “microseconds” because that’s how quickly a signal such as blink, furrow or nervous twitch can be broadcast. Common sense tells us that there is no substitute for F2F (Face to Face) interactions and while I’m no behavioral scientist, I have to conclude that it has something to do with the intricate and dynamic nature of interpersonal signals which can be picked up on and reciprocated. So what does this have to do with business?
Google Inc. Friday announced a highly anticipated service that will make it a middleman for selling graphical ads over the Internet. The technology, called the DoubleClick Ad Exchange, resembles a stock exchange for display ads, ads with images and text that appear alongside content on a Web page. It allows companies that buy ads to bid for ad space across lots of different Web sites, from blogs to major entertainment properties, in real-time based on what publishers want to sell that second. Today display ads are often purchased ahead of time through negotiations with individual Web sites or networks of sites, a process which leaves publishers with lots of unsold space.
I'm not sure why, but the phrase "real-time search" has somehow largely become associated with the phrase "Twitter search." While much of the conversation around real-time search centers conceptually on Twitter search and other engine algorithms that remix their data, the fact is that the Google crawl and many other viable contributors are critical to getting a fresh and relevant answer in real-time, though they are often lost in the discussion. Make no mistake about it, crawler-based real-time search and status-update search are both important to the successful development of a state-of-the-art robust and relevant real-time search engine.
Within moments of shouting "You lie" at President Barack Obama during his speech last week to a joint session of Congress regarding healthcare reform efforts, Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, became the latest hot topic on the Internet. Almost instantly, the relatively obscure Congressman became the top search on Google, Yahoo Search and Bing. His name dominated tweets on Twitter and became a top topic of posts to news streams on Facebook. The blogosphere erupted. His even less-well-known political opponent, Democrat Rob Miller, an Iraq war veteran who is running for Wilson's seat in the 2010 election, got his own online impact: as of last Friday, he had received $750,000 in unsolicited Web-based campaign contributions, according to Politico.com.
This is Cambridge, Massachusetts, one rainy autumn afternoon in 2005. Fantastic? Or totally spectacular? You be the judge. It was created by Burak Arikan and Ben Dalton at MIT's Media Lab. It designed to show the color of clothing in motion in the many neighborhoods that make up Cambridge. Arikan and Dalton rigged up cameras, capture color data and converted it to this astonishingly useful piece of data visualization. To be fair, Cambridge is not the most fashion forward place in the world. Indeed, I have seen people on the MIT campus who look as if they just walked out of explosion at Goodwill. I'm not talking hipster refusal of mainstream fashion. I'm talking completely random. This is a wonderful thing from an anthropological point of view but somewhat at odds with the clothing conventions that rule our world. So the Chief Culture Officer may not care about these data as data. The Arikan-Dalton visualization will matter more as proof of concept.
In the last couple of days I've had reasons to reflect on this dichotomy. Although things can happen really fast online, the process by which they tip is usually quite slow. And for good reason. Trust is something you build over time. Also, many confuse grabbing what is easy to grab for building a relationship, thinking that a fait accompli would let them get away with less than transparent business practices. With technology as an accelerator, it is easier to put the cart before the horse - to try and get what you want before you established a relationship of trust. When in doubt, ask first. It's easy to get excited with the possibilities and lose sight of the fact that there are humans on the receiving end. Wasn't that the promise of the social Web? Or has that already been forgotten in the need for a fast buck?
In part 1 we looked at how the real-time Web is a new form of communication and creates a new body of content. The immediacy of the Twitter channel is a third fundamental characteristic of the real-time Web and one of its prime currencies, not surprising given the name of the space. Because of demand within the eco-system, quite a bit of effort is being made on storing, slicing, dicing, and disseminating information as quickly as possible. The fundamental implication of this activity (without any explicit markers being laid down) is that the velocity of information within the Web data system has just increased by an order of magnitude.
On Monday, the National Football League announced that it will now limit use of social media and networks during the season. Players, coaches, officials, personnel, third-party representatives, and even the media are prohibited from updating their status, blogging, or tweeting 90 minutes before a game until post-game interviews are completed. You can bet that the NFL will pay particular attention to Chad Ochocinco, who recently boasted in a personal Ustream chat that he plans to circumvent the rules and tweet while playing – even if it’s through a representative or strategic social operative. I do find this interesting as I understand the NFL’s intent – I honestly do. But, in reality this is an untenable strategy and therefore not worth fighting.
What's still one of the most important consumer trends out there? Transparency. Of prices, of opinions, of standards. So let’s look at what’s new, happening, upcoming and important, including the inevitable countertrend. There’s no hiding ;-)
Surchur has been around for more than a year, but its recent facelift aims to take real-time search toward a new idea: real-time discovery. It may sound like splitting hairs to some, but the point is valid: Real-time search isn’t of much value if you don’t know what to type into the search box. This is why Twitter’s new home page has links to a couple dozen trending topics. It’s why the new delicious.com home page has a tab showing the hottest bookmarks. It’s why Collecta shows what’s “hot now” on its home page, and why OneRiot does, too. But Surchur is going a lot further with its new home page. Founder Todd Hogan calls it a merger of real-time search with real-time discovery.
Like cloud computing less than a year ago and social networking two years ago, the real-time Web is the new black on the tech circuit. The trend has been publicly bandied about this summer, starting with a few industry get-togethers, followed by several enthusiastic testimonials from investors (notably angel investor Ron Conway's widely posted list of ways for Twitter to monetize). It was then capped by a glowing report in BusinessWeek in early August. That a serious trend is on the rise would not be doubted by those watching Twitter's rise in usage and media popularity. In fact, the debate this summer has centered not on whether something is afoot but rather on what to call it. Ron Conway favors "now media" in the belief that it's a media phenomenon. But most commenters, led by several bloggers and lead investors, prefer to call it "real-time Web".
Marshall Kirkpatrick takes on the “RSS is dead” meme, started by Steve Gillmor, but really started by all those people who haven’t been using RSS much anymore. My answer to Marshall: I’m not in the news business anymore, but if I were I’d keep Twitter up on screen. I’ve been looking closely at Google Reader’s latest features, Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed and I gotta say that most of what shows up on TechMeme shows up in my Twitter feed up to a day earlier.
Marc Andreessen is backing a new browser company called RockMelt. Not much is known about RockMelt other than it is being designed by an all-star team (including software engineer Robert John Churchill from the Netscape days) and that it is tied into Facebook through Facebook Connect. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb has a screenshot of the sign-in page and speculates that RockMelt is in fact a Facebook browser. Miguel Helft at the NYT leans in that direction as well. It kind of makes sense since Andreesen is on the board of Facebook, but I suspect it is only half the story.
Facebook makes a play and acquires Friendfeed, a sharing and aggregation tool that helps people find out what their friends are doing. Read Friendfeed’s announcement, and Facebook’s blog post. A few months ago the Facebook and Twitter deal fell apart, and Facebook knows it must open its community to the open web –not just behind a login in order to benefit from generating revenues through advertising and search advertising. This Friendfeed acquisition make sense as it’s primarily a buy of the talent and team –not so much the website itself.
The fashion magazines Vogue, InStyle and Lucky may rule the newsstand racks. But online, they are also-rans, overlooked by the fashion-conscious in favor of Polyvore, an upstart Web site far from Fifth Avenue.
With apologies to Andy Samberg of “Saturday Night Live,” JWT never thought it would be on a boat. But a client, Royal Caribbean, looking to add a sense of urgency to its advertising, decided to take a team of six JWT employees on three weeklong cruises this summer. The employees, who call themselves JWT@Sea, are creating a series of quick-turnaround TV commercials that show couch potatoes the fun they are missing as it happens. “Our challenge is to make people feel and understand that it is O.K. to take that weekend vacation,” said Michael Stoopak, business director of JWT N.Y. (or, as he prefers, president of JWT@Sea).
We live in a beta culture. A Google search of the word “beta” retrieves 399 million articles. That’s more articles than the words “innovation” (108 million), “creative” (78 million), and “finish” (30 million) combined. Even “startup," which is a slightly more formal definition of “beta," only links to 325 million articles. So what’s our obsession, particularly in the Internet business, with the beta ideal?
Microsoft is dipping its toes into the hot new area of real-time search. The company said Wednesday that Bing, the search engine it unveiled a month ago, would begin including the latest output of popular Twitter users in its search results.
Back in April I interviewed Mark Zuckerberg as part of my research for Wired’s Great Wall of Facebook piece. Here is an edited transcript in which the Facebook founder and CEO talks about the limitations of walled gardens, the evolution of privacy online and why Home Depot should “humanize” itself.
When Liz Claiborne relaunched its brand this year, 300 or so female consumers informed its marketing decision. Such insights weren't culled from focus groups, but were pulled from online communications. Working with Communispace, Liz Claiborne execs considered the panel of 300 to be a "focus group on steroids" and were pleased with the results.
It soon will be - if it not already is - known as the Twitter revolution in Iran. But I’ll think of it as the API revolution. For it’s Twitter’s architecture - which enables anyone to create applications that call and feed into it - that makes it all but impervious from blocking by tyrants’ censors. Twitter is not a site or a blog at an address. You don’t have to go to it. It can come to you.
This past weekend the Twitterverse spoke-out in exasperation and opposition against traditional media networks (CNN specifically) and the absence of instantaneous coverage of the Iranian election and the resulting fallout. “We the people” wanted real-time information regarding the violent protests that erupted on the streets of Iran and the stories probing potential foul play in the results. We took to Twitter to express discontent and to also uncover the real story as it was unfolding live through citizen journalism. The world was watching…and it did so on Twitter and not CNN or any other news network.
Once again, the Internet is shifting before our eyes. Information is increasingly being distributed and presented in real-time streams instead of dedicated Web pages. The shift is palpable, even if it is only in its early stages. Web companies large and small are embracing this stream. It is not just Twitter. It is Facebook and Friendfeed and AOL and Digg and Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop and Techmeme and Tweetmeme and Ustream and Qik and Kyte and blogs and Google Reader. The stream is winding its way throughout the Web and organizing it by nowness.
Google has just launched a new “search options” feature on its main search page. When you click on “Search options” you can filter your search by different types of results (videos, forums, and reviews), by time (recent, past 24 hours, past week, past year), as well as seeing related searches, a “wonder wheel” view, or a timeline view.
The world of communication and product delivery is changing as the Web evolves and new services are introduced, enabling us to gain faster access to information, download richer media more quickly, and rapidly voice our opinions and feedback near and far in a wide variety of methods, including text, voice, video and imagery. As customers become more savvy and in tune with these new tools, we are also expecting those offering products and services to adapt, and as such, I thought it made sense to put forth what I believe are key tenets of a new consumer manifesto for today's real-time world.
It’s been a while since I last wrote about the death of the microsite, but this week there’s been some comment worth noting on the subject.
Last week, we wrote that FriendFeed was in danger of becoming “the coolest app that no one uses.” The thought was that while FriendFeed is doing some great things both in terms of its technology and feature-wise, it has failed to capture the growth of the hot micro-messaging service, Twitter. But I think that misses the real key comparison. If you look at it, FriendFeed is actually a lot closer to Facebook these days. You know, that service that 200 million plus people use. They’re doing a lot of similar things — only FriendFeed is doing them better.
Facebook talks about it, Twitter feels like it, but only FriendFeed has managed to pull it off. The web is moving to another gear, with the lifestreaming site founded by former Google workers launching the first truly real-time social media service today.