Google introduces YouTube Insight for video publishers

I recently ran into someone who’s interviewing for some marketing-type position at Google/YouTube in a few weeks. One question, I would love to ask the execs there is how are the brilliant minds (at Google/YouTube) planning to monetize the hugely popular site? I am not too envious of anyone who is stuck with the ultimate responsibility for monetizing this site. I mean, think about it – how easy is it to make people pay for something they’re used to getting for free?

That’s when I noticed this MarketingVOX article announcing Google’s free new analytic tool, YouTube Insight for the video publishers,

YouTube has debuted YouTube Insight, a suite of analytic tools that provide audience trends on videos that publishers have uploaded. YouTube already offers comments, ratings and a ranking for each clip. Insight adds context to where viewers come from and when they watched a given video.

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I think this is a great way to boost retention/loyalty of its video publishing community. It also gives the search giant, the demographic insights needed to provide more targeted advertising. Some revenue-sharing type model perhaps may also be in the works? 

Tracy Chan, Product Manager for YouTube Insight suggested that YouTube could be used for testing of movie trailers by studios and it is already being used by music bands to plan future performances,

Chan described how a Hollywood studio marketing a movie to YouTube viewers might put up several trailers designed to appeal to different users….He described how bands testing the new service have discovered pockets of their fans they didn’t know existed and have begun planning future music tours based on this data.

The major flaw with this plan, however well-intentioned, is the assumption that the YouTube (free-loader) demographic is typical of the movie-going (paying) audience and the results from any test on the YouTube audience is a good behavioral indicator of the offline movie-going audience.

That being said, the analytics tool is definitely step in the right direction. But I can’t help but wonder what on earth took them so long? Especially given that they could have easily leveraged Google Analytics backbone for this, couldn’t they?!

PS: Here’s a NY Times article rationalizing why companies ‘acquire’ innovation and why the acquisition still makes sense even if these companies are unable to monetize or gain any synergies from their acquisition.

Friendfeed, the next big thing?

This has been a week of new discoveries, first it was Flock, and this morning, as I was looking at my feed stats, I noticed traffic coming through Friendfeed. Started by some ex-Googlers, Friendfeed has taken the blogosphere by storm over the last month. Everyone’s talking about it – Louis Gray, SHEGEEKS, TechCrunch and many others have blogged about Friendfeed in the last month.

So, the curious ‘twit’ that I am, I signed up for it. It looks like a feed aggregrator, acts like a feed aggregator, so it’s definitely a feed aggregator. (Check out Steve Rubel’s post on how the ‘Imaginary Friends’ feature can be used as a master aggregator). But it’s not just an aggregator of blog feeds, Friendfeed lets you follow your friends/favorite bloggers around the net, so you get feeds of their posts on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and any other application that Friendfeed supports.

I like Friendfeed but it can get very overwhelming very fast, especially if you’re following someone like Robert Scoble who is reknowned for his incessant twittering. Over all, it’s a neat tool to keep all your feeds organized, but whether it will help reduce the insanity of over-abundance of social sites (that I’ve ranted about in the past) or add to that madness, remains to be seen.

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First Friendster and now Google goes east

In December 2007, Mashable announced Friendster’s expansion to Korea and Japan. Time.com also reported on how Friendster found it’s sweet spot in Asia,

Thanks largely to an accident of geography, it’s become Southeast Asia’s top social networking site. Asia is home to three-quarters of Friendster’s 58 million users, compared to 17% in the U.S., and it’s the source of 89% of the site’s traffic, compared to just 8% from North America.

Now it’s Google’s turn to ‘go east’. Mashable reports that Airtel and Google have partnered to offer Google apps like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, etc.

Airtel Telemedia Services, India’s “largest private broadband and telephone service provider,” has announced its launch of a new Web portal (airtellive.com) in partnership with Google, who will be co-branding the effort. The company’s customers “will receive free access” to the software solutions held within the Google Apps suite, according to UNI.

I think this move makes all the sense in the world for Google, who faces intense competition on its home base and not to mention, it hasn’t been successful in monetizing any of its applications. By tying up with Airtel, it can increase the penetration and usage of its applications in the world’s second-most populace nation.

Photo tagging made simple

Michael Arrington of Techcrunch, offers a quick analysis of Tagcow, an image and photo tagging service where the revenue model and even the technology behind the service is highly suspect. Arrington (and some other techno-elites) speculate that it’s actually humans doing the tagging.

I note that the TagCow site is careful not to say anything about the tagging process, and never use the word “automated” or anything else that would suggests computers are doing the work.

In addition, questions marks around this technology (or lack thereof) behind this service, there are also questions about its revenue model, because currently this service is free.

There’s one more teensy weensy problem, once you’ve gotten past the technology, revenue model questions, I am not too impressed by the service itself. Call me crazy, but isn’t tagging supposed to help you get more organized? I am as lazy as the next person (probably lazier) when it comes to tagging my photos but when I do come around to doing it, I use relevancy tags such as name of person, location, date, etc. How can any third-party photo-tagging system, be it automated or monkey-operated, do this?  How helpful are tags like ‘yellow cup’ or ‘mountain’? 

I don’t get it. Based on everything that I’ve heard and read so far, apparently, I am not the only one.

Want to drive more traffic to your blog?

Here’s one neat way to drive more traffic to your blog, become a guest blogger on another blog that already has the traffic. One of my favorite bloggers, Tony of Deepjiveinterests is planning a brief hiatus and is looking for guest bloggers.

This morning, I noticed a post on Patrick Curl’s blog inviting guest bloggers ie. aspiring bloggers looking to drive traffic to their blogs. I’ve never read this blog before but it offers interesting content for aspiring bloggers including "7 ways to be best buds with an A-list blogger".

Here’s his offer in a brief, write a (guest) blog post for him and he might publish it with a link to your blog and also give you an "Intense Blog Review" (apparently worth $40). If your post doesn’t make the cut, he’ll still give you some coverage through a 1-paragraph review of your post. Why should you write for him? Here’s what he has to say,

This blog is about to break the 100 subscribers mark. I have 1400 followers on twitter, and 600 friends on friendfeed who will see each post. This blog gets 1000 hits per day(at least it has been for the past 2 weeks.) My alexa ranking hasn’t caught up since the traffic is new, but it will catch up, very quick.

For the curious and the aspiring, check out rest of his offer on his blog. Good luck! :-)

Social web browser

My friend Dave, over at The Design Foundry introduced me to this cool new browser, Flock that tries to address the challenges (that I ranted about) with having too many social networks.

Flock is supposed to be "The Social Web Browser". It does for social networks what Trillian does for IM, ie. makes it possible to access and use various interfaces/sites at the same time, without having to switch in and out all the time.

From their version compare page – Flock offers integration between social sites – Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter in a sidebar. Webmail integration for Yahoo! and Google mail. Photo and Video Support includes photos and videos from Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Photobucket, Truveo and Picasa (AWESOME!). It allows you to post favorites to del.icio.us and ma.gnolia. As if all this wasn’t enough, it also supports multiple blog platforms, you can compose and post blogs to Blogger, Blogsome, LiveJournal, Typepad, WordPress, Xanga and self-hosted blogs.

I am ready to kick the tires and take it for a spin, will keep you updated on what I find out. Stay tuned for more details.

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How many social networking sites do we need?

T-mobile’s Fav 5 campaign got me thinking about how many is too many? I think most people would agree that there’s an optimal number for everything. So the question begs to be answered, how many social sites does the online world really need?

Take credit cards, we all have a few but how many do you use most frequently? With the travel industry, you have your loyalty program once you get into one, you’re more likely to continue to use the same brand to rack up the points.

Let’s take a look at email accounts, most folks usually have a couple, one at work, another personal, one for perhaps your business, and maybe just one more super-secret, that no one, not even your significant other knows about..except the spammers, of course, there’s no escaping those  @@%%$$  but it’s usually in the range of 4 or 5 accounts. (unless of course, you have multiple personality syndrome combined with OCD and you feel compelled to email everyone with a different id. I know you folks are out there)

But my point is that there’s a magic number beyond which there’s no incremental value to having an additional card or email account, because chances are you will never get around to using it.

My pet peeve is the insane proliferation of social networking sites. Every other day, I get an invite to join some new social network or ‘community’ network because someone I know is on it. So now I have accounts on every possible social site in cyberspace and beyond. But how many do I actually visit regularly, meaning every day or at least once a week?! Maybe 4 or 5, at the most. Facebook’s clean interface won over MySpace’s chaotic design, I peruse LinkedIn every so often, for friends and family in Asia, there’s Orkut, and Twitter’s my all-time favorite choice for social-fun-about-nothing, but that’s probably about it. Law of finite time gets in the way of having too much ‘socialization’.

I think it’s time, those who are thinking of starting a new social network or a community site should take a long hard look at their value proposition. At some point, acquisition is no longer that important, once you’ve signed up everyone from here to Kalamazoo (where ever that is). I’ve blogged before on the importance of user engagement. It doesn’t take much effort to sign up for a free account, but it’s far more difficult to stay engaged on multiple sites. There are so many choices out there and only so many hours in a day, even if you are an unemployed teen drop-out in the middle-of-nowhere-small-town-USA.

But despite my gloom-and-doom pronouncements, all is not lost. It does not mean the new social networks can’t win against the "incumbent" (it’s an election year, in case you haven’t noticed ;) ). Facebook did it and so can your site. The key is to find your niche and grow that niche like crazy. However, it’s highly improbably (although not impossible) to pull users away from a site they’ve grown to like and replace it with your site unless you have some fiercely compelling value or offering. If you’re an aspiring new site, good luck to ya, it’s a long hard road ahead.

Why online ads don't work

I am a big Seth Godin fan, I mean who isn’t?! The man is positively brilliant, he could sneeze and get a gazillion diggs and probably many would stumble it too. Lots of solid content and great ideas in that shaved head for sure. Here’s another gem from his blog, along with this great video. (Thanks!)

Despite being a fanatical marketer, I’ve never been big on advertising, especially online display ads. Many of my fellow-marketers forget the purpose of marketing is to drive users to action. How likely is a user interrupt what she’s doing to pay attention to your ad, no matter how cleverly made?

And that’s why paid search or contextual advertising makes all the sense in the world, if you are in the market for a new car, you’re more likely to notice car advertisements. Simple!

Buzz about nothing? Here come Twitter Color Wars

I think ‘nothing’ is waaaaaay underrated. Think about it, Seinfeld made it big despite being a show about..well..nothing. Twitter is yet another tribute to our obsession with feckless entertainment. The techno-crowd is going ga-ga over the Color Wars, where you pick your ‘color team’ and join them in an online ‘war’. Their first challenge? Take a picture of yourself throwing either rock, paper, or scissor. Yeah, I know..words fail me.

The frentic pace of the net is energizing but it’s also creating an era of paranoia – blink and you might just miss the next big nothing. In the spirit of not getting left behind on meaningless-phenomenon-that-might-snowball-into-something-big, Mashable has finally endorsed verygreenteam for the Twitter Color Wars, which they lovingly describe as,

"..the shortest-lived web fad since the Star Wars Kid team"

It’s simply fascinating that a site/utility like Twitter (which still hasn’t figured out a way to monetize) has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. The Twitteratis flexed some serious muscle during Sarah Lacy’s trainwreck of an interview with Facebook’s Zuckerberg at SXSW, when they rallied to take control of an interview gone bad. Twitter has tremendous potential for creating big-time buzz (and organizing) over political candidate, new product, war protest, or over just plain old-fashioned nothing like… Color Wars

So, while you peruse the latest happenings on this non-event at  Mashable’s Twitter page, I am off to burn some serious threadmill rubber before I go all soft and mushy fighting virtual wars on my laptop ;)

What's up with the online dating scene?

During my stays in 5 different states in the last 10 years, I have made some wonderful friends, many of whom happen to be single. Recently, I’ve been following my buddy Dave’s experience with the various online dating sites. After being on eHarmony for many months, he didn’t have much luck so he decided not to renew his account and try some other site such as Match.com. However, he noticed that when it came time for (not) renewing his eHarmony account, he would get a flurry of new activity on his account.

At first, he was surprised (pleasantly) and but being the sharp marketer that he is, the warm and fuzzy feeling didn’t last very long. The reason for the sudden spike in interest was thanks to what eHarmony calls ‘flexible’ match, which essentially means the site was throwing everyone, who even remotely resembled Dave’s preferences, at him. In Dave’s own words,

"I have mixed feelings about it, on a personal level I feel at times like they are giving me false hope and keeping me hanging. However, on the other hand, I have to admire their marketing savvy. They did succeed in keeping me on the site longer."

I would love to get confirmation of this innovative marketing from eHarmony and wonder how many other sites use similar techniques to retain their users.