free html hit counter February 2010 - John Battelle's Search Blog

I Don't Like The iPad Because…

By - February 27, 2010

Screen shot 2010-02-27 at 6.34.59 PM.png…it’s driven by the same old media love affair with distribution lock in. I’ve been on about this ever since I studied Google in 2001: Media traditionally has gained its profits by owning distribution. Cable carriage, network airwaves, newsstand distribution and printing presses: all very expensive, so once you employ enough capital to gain them, it’s damn hard to get knocked out.  

The web changed all that and promised that economics in the media business would be driven by content and intent: the best content will win, driven by the declared intent of consumers who find it and share it. Search+Social was the biggest wave to hit media since the printing press. And the open technology to make better and better experiences has been on a ten year tear: blogging software, Flash, Ajax, HTML 5, Android, and more and more coming.

But the iPad, just like the iPhone, is designed for vertical integration and distribution lock in. Apple is building its own distribution channel, just as it did with iTunes, and media companies are falling over themselves to make an app for that. Why? Well sure, for once, it’s sexy and cool and hip. That’s why everyone loved the Wired demo.

But the real reason media companies love the iPad is the same reason I don’t: It’s an old school, locked in distribution channel that doesn’t want to play by the new rules of search+social. Sure, you can watch a movie on it. Sure, you can read a book on it. And sure, you can read a publication on it. But if you want to use the web natively, with all the promise that the web brings to media? Not so much. Apple will include a browser, of course. But will media you find through that browser be able to interact with the iPad platform so as to bring full value to you, the consumer? Nope. Not unless that same media is approved by Apple and makes it into the iPad app store.

And that’s why I don’t like the iPad. Don’t tell me, as a media maker, what I can make and how I can leverage the technology in my audience’s hands. And don’t tell me, as a media consumer, what’s OK for me to interact with, and how.

Yep, I really don’t like what the iPad augurs. And I hope, in the end, it’s consigned to what it should be: A sexy version of a portable DVD player-cum-Kindle. Nice to have. Not a game changer. Certainly not revolutionary. Unless you’re longing for yesteryear, when owning distribution meant owning audiences. Oh, and by the way, Traditional Media Folk: This time Apple owns that distribution channel, not you.


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Friday Signal: The Web Gets Its Wisdom Teeth (We Hope)

By - February 26, 2010


(image ) A couple of days ago I riffed for bit on the convergence of conversation in our industry around mobile, local, real time, and social. Sometimes this stuff needs an easier name to identify it all, so I’m going to go with MOLRS (MObile Local Realtime Social).  

Why another acronym? Because honestly, it reminds us to link all these concepts together. Often folks ask me for advice about their “mobile strategy.” I remind them that if you are going to think about mobile, you have to think about social, local, and real time. Same for when someone asks about a real time strategy – real time usually means connecting through a social graph, often through a mobile platform and in a local context. And so on. So “MOLRS” is a reminder to think about all aspects of this next evolution of the web.

Another reason – and this is a stretch, but it’s Friday – is the rather obscure reference to third molars, or wisdom teeth. We humans get our “wisdom teeth” at about the same time we become true adults – when we’re ready to take our place in society. These molars come in in our late teens or early 20s – post adolescence, as it were. And that’s about where the web is right now. The emergence of the MOLRS web indicates a third wave of Internet evolution – first was the flat HTML web of the 1990s, second was the burgeoning post search web of 2000-2010 (Web 2.0), and now we’re in the third wave – what Tim and I coined as “WebSquared” last year.

Anyway, the funny thing about wisdom teeth is that they often get impacted, and have to be pulled. Evolutionary theory implies that we used to have larger mouths because we needed the third molars to process more plant materials (I’m not making this up). Now, I’m already stretching a metaphor here, but the truth is, the web is at a similar impaction (or inflection) point. Truth is, we have way more information to chew on than we can digest, and with MOLRS, we are creating tools to bring that information into our heads more efficiently. Physically we don’t need our third molars, but on the web, we most certainly do.

As these MOLRS develop, any number of companies (both web native and pre web) are battling to control them, in particular their chokepoints – the mobile platforms, location services, identity services, social graphs, payment systems, and distribution channels. Read Tim’s “War for the Web” piece for more on this. It’s a struggle for positioning, dominance, and market riches. In fact, it’s exactly this battle that we intend to make the focus of the Web2Summit this year, as we’re at a key point in the architecture of the Internet – will services “lock in”, or will they connect? More on that later, once we’ve finalized the Web2Summit theme.

In the meantime, as the web gets its wisdom teeth, there’s bound to be a period of pain and readjustment. I doubt “MOLRS” (“MOLORS?” “MLRS”?) will catch on, but it’s a start, anyway….

Other Friday linkahoy:

EUREKA: The Clean, Cheap, Backyard-Friendly Solution To All Our Energy Problems (SAI) Waiting for version 2.0 on this one…

If I Were CEO of MySpace… (AdAge) If I were CEO, I’d integrate Facebook Connect, end of story, then do a lot of what this author is saying, in particular, focus on speed and utility.

DIY LBS: Create Your Own Foursquare (AdAge) Ning for location based services. Hmmm.

JESS3 / The State of The Internet (JESS3) An agency that did a cool video on web stats. Already out of date of course (Twitter stats are off by 20mm tweets a day!)

Facebook Patents The News Feed (Updated) (All Facebook) Lots of buzz around this. I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal.

Twitter’s Ad Plan: Copy Google (AllThingsD) Well, sure sounds like Tweetsense.

Leads for Less with Social Media (eMarketer)

Google Adds “Nearby” Local Search To Options Panel (SEL) Location, location, location….

Thurs. Signal

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I’m spending the balance of today working on a longer piece, so here’s some short links from yesterday, which I spent mainly on a plane without wifi (how odd is it to be bummed that my plane did not have wifi?).

Congress Adds Location-Based Mobile to List of Privacy Concerns (ClickZ) We’re not even close to the end of the conversation our culture needs to have about the impact that MOLRS (MObile Local Realtime Social) technologies will have on our social contract.

Google real-time search adds status updates from Facebook Pages (VentureBeat) A big deal in that Google was not playing nice with Facebook on a number of fronts. This is a start, I’m still waiting for Facebook Connect integration with Buzz.

Foursquare’s First Television Commercial Airs Tonight On Bravo [Video] (TC)

US Ad Spend Falls Nine Percent in 2009 (Neilsen) Not that we didn’t know last year blew.

Social media study: 91% of mobile users go online to socialize (SMBC)

Jean-Philippe Maheu Named Worldwide CEO at Publicis Modem (ClickZ) Congrats to JP!

Meredith Builds Up a Sideline in Marketing (WSJ) This is not news, but Meredith got a lot of attention for their agency biz at the IAB earlier this week. Another sign that the lines between agency and media company are blurred.

Teaching Your Business to Market Itself (OpenForum)

I Prefer a Multiplex Relationship (MarketingProfs) As marketers become publishers, expect them to form relationships with each other to co-promote. Happens a lot already, but will happen a lot more online.

Search and Display Advertising Synergies (eMarketer) Always happy to pass along a link that reminds us the two are very linked disciplines.

Weds. Signal – "Local-Mobile-RealTime": Re-imagining Social

By - February 24, 2010

Today finds me in Chicago, making the rounds of a great city that I don’t get to often enough. Meeting with senior folks at agency holding companies like Omnicom and Publicis, as well as clients like McDonald’s, I find this four-word mantra coming up, over and over: “Local Mobile Real Time Social“.

Fascination with these buzzwords is not news to you all, as readers here, but to have a moment when major brands are all looking for solutions in the same space is rare. It reminds me of the same vibe 15 years ago, when the four-word mantra was “world wide web whaaaa?.”

I think another way to parse this is to simplify: Social *is* local, social *is* local, social *is* mobile. The shift here is from disconnected to connected. From dictation to conversation. From isolated to social.

And that’s a very important shift. It’s not merely a marketing shift. It’s not merely a media shift. It’s a cultural shift in how we use artifacts of our own creation. Our society is leveraging technology tools and platforms to extend the ways we already know how to connect, thanks to 100 million or so years of biological and social evolutions. We’re learning to be social beyond the restrictions of region or affiliation, and this will have significant impact on how brands are created, nurtured, destroyed. Also, we’re reconnecting our social selves after major disruption due to technologies like airplanes, suburbs, highways, and mass media. There’s a book in all this somewhere….

To my mind, the (local mobile real time) web is reconnecting the world, and the possibilities for how those connections can create value are inestimably large. It’s why we’re in this business. It’s why I love it.

Today’s interesting linkage:

How long can you survive without mobile or Internet access before you break into cold sweats? (LifeScoop) Just for fun.

5 Landing Page Tips To Boost Your Conversion Rate (SEL) Sometimes this basic stuff needs to be remembered!

Experts: Internet Will Enhance Our Intelligence (MarketingProfs) Really?! Remember this debate?

Clear Channel, OMD and Illinois Lottery Team for Chicago Billboard Traffic Updates (ClickZ)

Online Marketing Summit explores social media, search and content … (B2B) COverage of my OMS talk.

Time Spent on Social Networks up 82% Around the World (Brian Solis)

How to Make a Great Facebook Fan Page (And Get More Fans) (Open Forum) I’d add that you must not see it as an island. Circulate across the entire social media ecosystem….

Tuesday's Signal – Notes from the IAB

By - February 23, 2010

Over the past few days I’ve been at the IAB conference, and if the mood in the hallways (and bars) is any indication, the online media industry is in a much better place – better than anytime in the past two years, most certainly.

The IAB is an industry association which represents, broadly, “companies that sell advertising.” The Board (on which I serve) includes senior leaders from firms as diverse as traditional publishers (NYT, IDG, NBC) to ad networks (24/7) to portal/platforms (Google, MSFT, AOL). And, of course, innovative newer firms like FM.

The IAB annual meeting has grown to become a quite well attended event, growing 30% from last year to 650 or so pretty senior folks in the online media space. It’s pretty “sell side” in nature – more publishers than marketers – but the shift this year was in the number of senior agency people attending. It’s clear agencies are starting to understand the importance of connection to audience, just as publishers do. A shift that without doubt will continue over the course of this year.

Stories worth grokking:

It’s Twitter!!!!!!!! (Yahoo + Twitter) (SearchBlog) This won’t hurt Twitter’s growth.

Branding Sometimes Means Being Human (WebProNews) Yep. Who said that?!

At IAB Annual Meeting, Talk of New Money for Digital Ads (Clickz)

Google’s Microsoft Moment? European Antitrust Review Looms (Searchblog again)

Wired On Google’s Algorithm (SEL) A worthy S. Levy piece (link here)

Publishers: It’s Time for an Intervention (AdAge) I am not sure the problem is as B&W as Russ frames it, but worthy thinking here.

Can Twitter Make Money? (TechReview). Yes.

It's Twitter!!!!!!!! (Yahoo + Twitter)

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Just got word of this deal, news of it around the blogosphere:

Yahoo is announcing a partnership with Twitter on Wednesday that will bring the services of both companies closer together. Under the partnership, Yahoo users will be able to read their personal Twitter feeds on several Yahoo sites, including the company’s home page, Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Sports. Yahoo users will also be able to directly update their Twitter status from Yahoo and easily share content that they see there with their Twitter followers. Yahoo will also begin including real-time Twitter content on a variety of its sites.

So, Yahoo’s answer to Buzz? (Irony alert).

Google's Microsoft Moment? European Antitrust Review Looms

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In past writings I’ve intoned that Google was following the path of Microsoft in many ways, and suggested that at some point it may face the same kind of scrutiny – and potential enervation – as Gates&Co did back in the late 1990s with the DOJ. Now comes news from the WSJ that the European Union has decided to open an investigation into the company, though the allegations seem less serious than those which ultimately forced Microsoft to permanently alter its practices. Not surprisingly, one of the complainants is a subsidiary of Microsoft in Europe.

From the piece:

Google Inc. is set to announce later Tuesday that European antitrust authorities have opened a preliminary probe into complaints made against it by three European Internet companies, according to people familiar with the matter. The inquiry into allegations of anticompetitive behavior is at an early, fact-finding stage and may not result in any action. But it appeared to be the first time that European antitrust authorities have examined Google’s conduct outside of a merger review. It also comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of Google in Europe, where the company has an even more dominant position in search advertising than it does in the U.S.

Monday Signal

By - February 22, 2010

At the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting today, and it’s packed. Follow it on the Twitter hashtag #iabalm. Will keep this Signal focused on the links again.

FM Honored with IAB Sales Excellence Award (FM Blog) Well I had to crow, didn’t I? I’m so proud of the work we do.

Networks Wary of Apple’s Push to Cut Show Prices (NYT) Apple is increasingly acting in a manner that I believe will isolate it from the Rest of the Media World.

By Creating Content, These Shops Are Creating a Legacy Beyond Ads (AdAge) Advertising must be content. Valuable content.

Lowered Expectations: Web Redefines ‘Quality’ (AdAge) Quality is so damn subjective. I have a rant in me on this.

Mobile Advertising Needs Transaction Spur (Reuters) Ads on mobile still nascent. Yep. But man is it exciting.

The next generation of ad serving for online publishers (Google Blog) Google revises DFP. Also see Google Tweaks DoubleClick’s Ad Server (Clickz)

Measuring Tweets (Twitter blog) Watch this space. This is the beginning of a roll out of ad products from Twitter, I’d warrant.

Could the Toyota Recall Crisis be Helping the Brand? (Mashable)

Google Hackers Linked to Chinese Govt. (SAI)

ROI: How to Measure Return on Investment in Social Media (Brian Solis)

Will Pure-Play Agencies Survive? (eMarketer)

Twitter Stats: This Is (The Start) Of What We Wanted

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Twitter just posted a shot across the bow of those who claim the service is not growing anymore. Measuring tweets per day, the post gives us a glimpse into the growth of the service.

Er….up and to the right. From the post: “Tweet deliveries are a much higher number because once created, tweets must be delivered to multiple followers. Then there’s search and so many other ways to measure and understand growth across this information network. Tweets per day is just one number to think about. We’ll make time to share more information so please stay tuned..”

It’s good to see this from Twitter, and I’m looking forward to more. For my thoughts on what more might be, see my post from last week Friday Signal: What Marketers Want from Twitter Metrics.

The Catchup Signal

By - February 21, 2010

Vacation was great. Too short. As usual. And there was plenty going on that I missed. So here are some stories from the past five or so days that are worth your attention. I’m at the IAB board and annual leadership meeting Sunday and Monday, so writing may be light. But I’ll be back at it soon.

The BrandFinance Global 500 (Brand Directory) Google #2. Walmart, Coke, IBM, Microsoft…

Google CEO Woos Suspicious Mobile Industry (Reuters) “Schmidt’s remarks were met with skepticism and some hostility from an audience already worried about economic recession and the prospect of becoming “dumb pipes” that merely carry valuable content, including free Internet calls.”

Google Hires Barry Salzman to Preside Over Display Ad Units (Clickz) “Barry Salzman, a veteran of DoubleClick, will be Google’s first head of media and platforms, with oversight of YouTube, the Google Content Network, DoubleClick’s ad serving business, and the DoubleClick Ad Exchange.” Watch this space for sure. I’ll be writing more about the implications of various moves on Google’s part in media soon.

Hello HTML5 (Google Gears Blog) Pay attention to standards wars. They are boring, because they are standards, but in the machinations of giants around standards, great narratives are hatched. (Why do you think I called that magazine The Industry Standard?!).

Outlook Gets Social with LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace (Microsoft Outlook blog) It’s not all Buzz, Microsoft would like you to know. And the truth is this: Social must be integrated into all platforms, bi-directionally, where ever one works and plays. If platforms don’t connect – they don’t win. This is the issue I have with Buzz, at least so far.

Google Launches Powerful Mobile Shopping App for Android (Mashable) Google Shopper is the kind of app that all of us geeks really like. I wrote about this over five years ago. And here it is.

How Unique Is A Unique Visitor? (A VC) Fred mulls what a real unique visitor really is.

Google: “With Buzz We Failed To Appreciate That Users Have Differing Privacy Expectations” (SEL)

How to Deal With Negative Feedback (Open Forum)

After Google Bowl 2010, What Next? (Ad Age)

Machine That Prints Body Parts (Economist) Just making sure you are paying attention.

The Convergence of Advertising and E-commerce (O’Reilly)