Archives: October 2008

Glue: Connecting Friends Through Objects Semantically

Last night I had an opportunity to take a look at Glue, self-described as “a contextual network that uses semantic technology to automatically connect people around everyday things – books, music, movies, stars, artists, stocks, wine, restaurants, and more.” When I looked at it, my initial thought was that this is a similar in some regards to LivingSocial.

After I looked at it more I realized that the application connects the activities of users around various objects on the web. What’s interesting is that if you view a movie on Netflix and your friend goes to view the same movie on IMDB, the engine can tell your friend about your related activity. This is pretty interesting and it appears to be more about the intelligence of the engine than a feature heavy product.

At first glance the application doesn’t wow users with limitless features. As you begin to dig and use the product, the benefits rapidly become apparent. While the company has not stated their intention to integrate into Facebook or other social networks, you can rapidly see the value of this tool integrated into your existing networks. Given the individuals behind this project, I’d imagine that they have this in mind for expansion purposes.

Ultimately the key is building a highly intelligent engine and then plugging it into a larger network of individuals. The AdaptiveBlue team focuses on building smart products and this is definitely one of them. I’ll be interested to see how this product evolves over the coming months. For now, this is another great product to add to the team’s portfolio.

The more exciting part will be watching what types of smart services and tools the company can roll out as the semantic engine behind their separate products becomes more intelligent. If you want to try out an intelligent way to connect with your friends based on the objects their interacting with, go download the Glue application for Firefox.

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The Average Person Can't Figure Out Twitter

-Twitter Logo-I’ve been taking a look at the usage of many Twitter users over the past few weeks and I’ve also noticed that a lot more of my friends have been joining recently. While Twitter can be an extremely valuable tool, there is a serious hurdle for it. I’ve seen many users join the site, add 10 or 20 friends and start tweeting. Within a matter of weeks their tweeting frequency dies down and eventually they stop using it.

The biggest problem for these individuals? The 10 or 20 people that they follow need to be interesting enough for them to return to the site regularly. While a small segment of these individuals enjoy getting text message updates from their close friends, at a certain point receiving mundane updates from the average Joe simply fails to excite.

Then again, perhaps following the average Joe (or should I say “Joe the plumber”?) will not provide a lot of value. The real value comes out of following those individuals that can create the most engaging media within 140 characters. Many of my friends don’t understand why I tweet and they don’t have the same virtual friends that I do.

There’s an extremely engaging group of individuals on the site that understand its power and take advantage of it. Maybe I’m simply over analyzing the act of engaging with other people on Twitter. Any individual who isn’t “hyperconnected” is not going to benefit equally and I would argue is much more likely to eventually leave the site. Do you think the average person gets the same benefit from Twitter as the hyperconnected social media people do?

Is there a simple way to explain the benefits of Twitter to someone who doesn’t understand what the purpose is? Personally, I didn’t get a huge benefit until I travelled around and began to witness the benefit of following the behind the scenes chatter.

AT&T Upgrades Napster Mobile

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AT&T and Napster, the digital music provider, just announced the Napster Mobile music download service is now available to more than 13 million AT&T subscribers, according to FierceMobileContent.

That represents about a fifth of the company’s entire subscriber base in the U.S. across over two dozen handsets. AT&T said in a statement that the expansion is a direct result of major record labels’ less restrictive digital rights management requirements as well as Napster’s adoption of more flexible technology.

AT&T currently charges subscribers $1.99 per over-the-air download under Napster Mobile, which includes a separate copy automatically delivered to their PC, the report said. Meanwhile, the $7.49 monthly subscription option includes five song downloads per month, from a searchable catalog spanning more than 6 million tracks across all four major record labels as well as many independents.

Mobile Music Key for Advertisers: OMMA Panel

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MediaPost reports that panelists participating in the “Re-Mix: Dialing up a Music Model” panel at the OMMA Mobile conference Thursday offered the following takeaway: in general, music brands find that “connecting with fans through cell phones and mobile campaigns can mean the difference between consumers getting lost or sticking around.”

An example from the panel: Citadel WKHX Atlanta, a country radio station, wanted to launch a contest to increase ratings, so they called on country singer Kellie Pickler. According to the report, the mobile campaign scored 4.3 million messages in seven days, causing the radio station’s online community to grow more than six times larger.

“The campaign shows a deep recognition to the connection with the audience has become more important,” said Dorrian Porter, CEO, Mozes, Palo Alto, Calif., at the panel. “It’s all about maintaining a relationship with the artist through mobile phones.”

The big disappointment so far? Geo-targeting, or location-based advertising via GPS chipsets or other means, has yet to make a dent in the mobile space.

The Beatles Finally Go Digital (Sort Of)

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Rumors about a partnership between The Beatles, their label Apple Corps, and Apple’s iTunes Store in order to sell the band’s digital music tracks online have persisted for ages.

We’re still not there yet. But as Ars Technica reports, in a conference call with Apple Corps and MTV-Harmonix yesterday, the companies announced a partnership which will see, for the first time ever, a licensed Beatles video game. “Rather than simply producing downloadable content for Rock Band, Harmonix and the surviving members of the Beatles and their families are working together to create a separate, stand-alone Beatles title.”

The new game will be like a sort of interactive Beatles biography, letting players explore both the music and the band, throughout their entire career. Precious little details are available, save for the fact that Yoko Ono apparently likes it. Could this pave the way for over-the-air downloads and iTunes Store purchases? Unfortunately—as always—we have to keep waiting.

Mastercard Goes Mobile

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Mastercard, the world’s biggest payment card company, unveiled on Thursday a service for banks that lets them install payment cards directly into customer’s mobile phones much easier than before, Reuters reports, in what could be a tipping point for the nascent mobile phone wallet market.

“Consumers will be able to use a phone as a wallet or as an access card simply by waving it over a wireless reader,” the article said, “and in some cases punching a PIN number into the phone—similar to how travelers in Tokyo and London access public transport.”

The report said that it will probably be 2010 at the earliest before we see this technology in any widespread use even with the new MasterCard deal, since wireless carriers, mobile phone manufacturers, and retail banks still have to sort out all the particulars together.

Yahoo Tops Mobile Destinations, Too

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At yesterday’s OMMA Mobile conference, the ever-knowledgeable Nic Covey, director of insights at Nielsen Mobile, gave a preview of the company’s new Mobile AdRelevance database, MediaPost reports.

It’s essentially a mobile version of Nielsen Online’s online ad-tracking service AdRelevance. The new service “measures and ranks mobile Web sites based on the number of ad impressions they generate, and it shows the dominant player is the same as the wired Web: Yahoo.”

Covey said that Yahoo Games is the number one mobile destination, followed closely by Yahoo Finance and Yahoo News.

“The No. 1 destination in terms of total mobile Web traffic is Yahoo Mail, followed by Google Search, The Weather Channel, Gmail, MSN Hotmail, and Google Maps,” according to the report. Lots of good data in this one, so check out the full report.

Skyfire Browser: Now in Canada

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Skyfire announced today that they are expanding availability of their mobile Web browser to Canada.

“Now Canadians can watch live sports like NHL hockey, NBA basketball, or use their favorite music and video services that they enjoy on their PCs, as a free download at www.skyfire.com.”

Skyfire is significant in the mobile content space because it’s billed as the only current browser to support Web 2.0 technologies including Flash 2.0, AJAX, and Quicktime, which puts it ahead of competing software from Nokia, Opera, Apple, Microsoft, and Research in Motion.

Reuters: Yahoo, AOL in ‘Due Diligence’ Mode

Yahoo_Halloween.jpgReuters is reporting that the time may finally be at hand for Yahoo to, well, *do* something. The report said that Yahoo and Time Warner ‘s AOL unit are currently examining the books together to “figure out how much money they could make together and where costs can be saved,” a person familiar with the talks said on Wednesday, which signifies a merger may be just around the corner.

“Talks are focused on how to integrate AOL’s content and advertising business into Yahoo, said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly because the discussions are confidential.”

Yahoo and Time Warner first started chatting about this months ago, as the report said, when Yahoo was fishing around for an alternative to a takeover by Microsoft. The tough part is integrating the two companies, both of which have many redundant services, including AOL’s advertising network, the separate portals and email services, and the scattered, disparate mobile initiatives.

Omnicom Launches Mobile Ad Agency

Omnicom_Group_Logo.jpgMediaPost is reporting that Omnicom Group is launching a new mobile agency that claims to combine behavioral and mobile marketing.

“The appropriately named Mobile Behavior agency is intended to help advertisers better understand consumers’ mobile behaviors, hopefully leading to more effective use of the mobile marketing channel in conjunction with other media.”

Omnicom is pointing to two advantages of the new unit: the large scale due to relationships with existing networks and carriers, and having a single point of contact for executing mobile marketing campaigns, the report said. The launch mirrors a trend among big name ad agencies increasingly focusing on the mobile sector.