Sips from the Firehose
A blog that seeks to filter the internet into a refreshing, easily-gulped beverage


May 08

Turning “Likes” into Schwag: American Airlines and Klout

Posted: under advertising.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

One in an occasional, erratic and occasionally erratic series

Time is money. Image is everything. Manners maketh man. Your reputation precedes you.

And now, having a high (enough) Klout score wins you entry into the American Airlines first-class lounge, where you can look down your nose at the hoi polloi, and raid the “Continental breakfast with liquor” setup before your flight.

American Airlnes Klout score

I know this is going to result in me getting spammed mercilessly by American Airlines for the next millennium. The question, as always, is – is it worth it?

The mutability of your online reputation, as measured by any of the upstarts trying to put a wrench onto this social media/word of mouth monster, into actual real-world rewards is a very tricky thing. Having a lot of YouTube followers (or blog readers) gets you onto the red carpet for movie premieres.  Mommy bloggers get to test-drive new models of minivans.

But in the past, these kinds of corporate reacharounds usually had the intervention of a PR agency. This iteration goes through Klout, and asks you to connect AA directly with your Klout account (and thru Klout, to all the social media sites you included in Klout to try to boost your score).

Insidious? Evil? Useful? I guess it depends on how sanguine you are to turn over all your personal data & connections to friends in return for something that can run a couple hundred bucks, and make waiting for your flight a lot more pleasant. Certainly a consideration, if the sequester cuts ever kick back in, and we face 8-hour delays again.

Still: “When you don’t know what the product being sold is … the product is you.”

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Jan 08

Inventing the Future at BlogWorld

Posted: under Blogging, Blogs, Digital Migration.
Tags: , , ,

Somehow, I expected more of a mad scientist’s lab, with chortling henchmen. Or hench-Americans, as I hear they prefer to be addressed….

20130108-164940.jpg

It is always dangerous to give a group of bloggers (should that be “a flamewar of bloggers”?) a stage and a microphone, and dare them to get pretentious about predicting The Next Big Thing.

UPDATE: the always irascible bloggers have deemed the event a FAIL because of the lack of interactivity. Also: keyboard pants?

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Feb 26

The Oscars on Social Media: International Audiences Yawn, US Bloggers Snark

Posted: under new media, television.
Tags: , , , , ,

Live-Blogging the Oscars and Tracking the Tweet Clouds

I was hoping that the real-time geo-Tweet maps would show something interesting in and around Los Angeles during the Oscars telecast. No such luck.

Apparently, not that many people in and around Hollywood were actually Tweeting during the Oscars telecast - at least, not enough to compete with some of the other topics showing up on a Sunday night.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world didn’t seem too interested in the Oscars:

Strange that despite all the traffic about the Oscars, on Twitter that still didn't compete with some of the other trending news topics around the world -- such as the elections in Australia, or the massacres in Syria.

Drilling down a bit more, we can see some other names start showing up – although the Los Angeles area still isn’t #1 in Twitter activity. Guess our fingers are too busy here ferrying Scorcese-related cocktails to our mouths to actually type in a Twitter update.

Looking at the tag cloud, you can see that once you drill down past just "the Oscars," the names of the celebrities start showing up as trending topics.

 

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Aug 02

Bill Cosby is Not Dead Yet: A Viral Marketing Set-up?

Posted: under advertising, Amusing Nonsense.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

First day back from a much-needed “decompression” trip to the redwood forests of West Marin, and I’m greeted by the strangest trending topics when I fire up Tweetdeck for my re-immersion in the raging info-torrent:

twitscoop shows bill cosby denying his demise as top trending topic

So many people are ReTweeting Cosby's denial of his demise that the keywords are showing up all over trending topics.

Strange. The words “Cosby,” “demise,” “rumors,” “confirming,” and the Palin-esque portmanteau “rebuttaling” are trending. So when I click through to see what everyone’s talking about, this comes up:

twitter users retweeting cosby demise denial

Check out how many people are just hitting the "RT" button to repeat what Cosby said -- without any sort of editing of the message whatsoever. Thus including the bit.ly link.

Wow. OK, either there’s some sort of radio or TV contest going on here, or there’s a genuine story brewing. How can I tell that it’s not just one Twitspammer clogging up the Twitosphere? Well, check out the sources of the Tweets: Twidroid, web, UberTwitter (not shown: Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, and about a dozen other clients).

Spammers give themselves away by using only one (or at most two) channels to shovel their dreck. Usually they just compromise one platform and then quickly cram their message through the crack in the security wall before someone notices and plasters it over again.

Still, there’s a possibility that there was a massive exploit of user’s Twitter accounts, and that the weblink will lead to a page where the Trojans & Spyware lurk. So, setting the various anti-virus & script-blockers to “Red Alert” status, I clicked on through. Turns out that the Cos actually does have an app.

Bill Cosby's twittered rebuttal of his demise

A simple message - and one that has been picked up by a significant portion of his million-plus followers.

Now, I’m not sure if this was entirely scam-free. Cosby is a shrewd marketer & hustler; I wouldn’t put it past him to stage a non-event like this to take advantage of the overheated, overhyped nature of the Twitosphere to get his name out there (and how many times in the past six months have you actually even heard Bill Cosby’s name? Yeah, like that). One of the surest ways to cause a kerfuffle was proved a year ago when the news of Michael Jackson’s death caused the FailWhale to appear … so maybe Cosby & his web team figured out that sock-puppeting a rumor of Cosby’s sudden death would be enough to set off a ruckus.

Which Cosby could then take advantage of by issuing a denial … and tying that denial to a message plugging his new money-making app.

Convoluted? Damn Skippy. Like setting up a three-cushion shot on an uneven billiards table. Being carried in the back of a flatbed truck. Over a rutted backwoods Arkansas dirt road.

Then again, Bill Cosby was something of a hustling pool player, once upon a time…

Bill was not always "Mr. Establishment." He had a funky side - maybe it was Sidney Poitier that brought it out of him...

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Mar 24

Laura Lang at OMMA Global: Humans Are Intrinsically Social

Posted: under advertising.
Tags: ,

The sessions on social media were all packed … I’d say cheek-by-jowl, but these were marketing and advertising types, after all, and jowls were in rather short supply.

It may have had something to do with the recent announcement that Facebook had surpassed Google in popularity … I’m not sure if that means that the ad budgets will be swinging Zuckerberg’s way from the Ever-Victorious Google Army, but it certainly had a lot of people buzzing. And hoping to find some magical formula for extracting value from people just, y’know, rapping. Dude.

Laura Lang to OMMA Global: Why Social Media is Important from Dave LaFontaine on Vimeo.

Laura Lang, CEO of the Digitas advertising agency, opens her keynote speech at OMMA Global with some examples of why social media is important.

The speech is titled: “People are expecting everything, everywhere, downloaded, uploaded, in their hands, in an instant – are marketers keeping pace?”

Best use of classic fiction and modern cross-platform multimedia: “What do Robinson Crusoe, Castaway and Lost all have in common? They all wanted off the island. Why? There weren’t enough people there to interact with. Or not the right kind of people.”

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Sep 24

Digital Family Meet-up at Wokcano

Posted: under Digital Migration, New Marketing, new media, Online Video.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It was a cinematic night, as event organizer Brad Nye looked like he was making an entrance in a James Bond film, and Jason Calacanis did a Q&A (thanks for taking my question first, BTW), and looked a little like Citizen Kane.

It’s late and I’ve got a lot more post-processing to do on the photos, so here’s just a couple of the images that I shot.  The video of the discussions can be found at This Week in Startups.

Before the lights were adjusted, standing on the platform over the audience made the speakers look like they were either making a dramatic entrance - or having their identities concealed in some "60 Minutes" tell-all segment.

Before the lights were adjusted, standing on the platform over the audience made the speakers look like they were either making a dramatic entrance - or having their identities concealed in some "60 Minutes" tell-all segment.

The energy of the old VIC was certainly present – a little too much, as techies on the make back at the bar made it a little hard to hear the speakers at the time. This, despite the overt threat by organizers to find the yapping networkers and toss them out.

Anyway, here’s Calacanis discussing what the future of social media sites is going to look like, and what smart companies should do in the next couple of years to try to adapt to the increasing pace of innovation.

As I said in an email to Nye, Jason would probably be secretly pleased at the whole Citizen Kane-esque imagery here. And then, of course, he'd feel conflicted about it and make a self-deprecating joke.

As I said in an email to Nye, Jason would probably be secretly pleased at the whole Citizen Kane-esque imagery here. And then, of course, he'd feel conflicted about it and make a self-deprecating joke.

One of the more interesting areas of discussion – particularly since I just got back from Costa Rica – centered around virtual currency as being “the next big thing.”  Certainly seems that way in places like Costa Rica, where you’re getting an increasingly large, tech-savvy and connected labor force.  A lot of people either work in the internet gambling industry there – or have relatives/friends that do.  The speed of internet connections in San Jose – and even out in the jungles on the Pacific side – stunned me. I’ve had much worse connections in the small town U.S.A.

One of the things that has stuck in my head the last week or so has been the stories coming out about how spammers are getting around the Captchas by simply hiring dirt-cheap human labor to fill in the blanks on the pages to stuff spam onto our hard-constructed sites.  I’m not sure what the next step in trying to get rid of the spam is going to be – Calacanis lamented how from the very first days of blogs, spam started becoming a problem, and it has kept pace with our attempts to try to get rid of it.  Now it’s starting to get into the social networking world (viz today’s Phishing attacks on Twitter), where the level of trust that we have for our social circle is going to make the impact of a malicious click that much heavier.

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Apr 13

John Battelle About the Future of Webconomics – OMMA 2009

Posted: under advertising, New Marketing, new media.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

“We’re about to get another breakthrough, another interface leap.  If I knew what it was, I would start a company there.  But I don’t know what it is yet, but I have some ideas, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.” – John Battelle

Battelle says he stayed up late one night (visions of the mythical college dorm room & heavy inhalation) to come up with this heavy information and interface theories, and worked up this speech to try to describe where he sees the future of the web going.

If what he said above is right, then there is about to be another evolutionary stage, and the current titans of search (i.e. Google, Yahoo, etc.) are going to be replaced by The New Hot Thing.  He seems to be hanging his hat on “conversations” which sounds pretty good to me – the human urge to connect & trade information is one of the strongest forces on the web.  I’m just not entirely convinced that the Facebook/MySpace paradigm is at all viable.  We’re been waiting a while now for anything remotely resembling a business model to emerge, and the latest news is that Google’s shareholders are starting to get a bit bent out of shape about subsidizing the world’s inconsequential home videos, and that Emperor’s Missing Wardrobe-type questions are starting to get asked about the 1/2 billion a year burn rate.

Money quote:

YouTube will manage to rake in about $240 million in ad revenue in 2009, against operating costs of roughly $711 million, leading to a shortfall of just over $470 million. This half-billion dollar loss comes after more than a year of feverish experimentation in various forms of advertising, cross-product embedding, licensing and partnership deals. YouTube is adamant that ultimately they’ll find an advertising solution that will enable the ungainly behemoth to reach profitability. Looking at the math, it doesn’t seem likely.

Battelle’s take on where all this is headed is pretty complex, and not all that out of line with things that you’ve probably heard before.  This is only the first part, so stick with it – it gets more rewarding as we go along.

Here’s some teaser quotes to get you to click over and watch the video – please excuse the camera movement, but Battelle kept pacing around on the stage, and I had to either go so wide that focus was a problem, or track him, making the camera movements a little jerky.

Every publisher is now a marketer … you have to engage the audience in a conversation … if you don’t know how to do that, you’ll die.  That’s it. It’s over.

I call this the conversation economy.  It’s kind of a sequel to the search.

The three-bump theory of how man interacts with technology … as Eric Schmidt is fond of saying ‘25% of GDP is fine with me.”

We all give Apple credit, but basically we know that Windows won.  I call this the “hunt and poke” interface … that’s way better than learning a foreign language like FORTRAN.  That’s also called the “I’m lost in a foreign country interface.”

We started having conversations at scale with our customers.  All of a sudden every customer could talk to every company, and nobody was ready for the conversation. But around the turn of the century, we started to develop that interface, and that interface, I argue is search.  This is the first time we have ever been able to have a conversation in our own natural language with a machine.  People don’t see search that way, but I do.

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Mar 26

Twitter Ads – More Valuable than 30 Second Superbowl Spots – Calacanis OMMA Keynote (part 3)

Posted: under Digital Migration, Online Video, Twitter advertising.
Tags: , , , ,

“The obligatory Twitter section of every keynote address in 2009.”

Calacanis describes how web companies could really leverage their audience attention by using innovative new ad models. He “works the numbers” to show how a (proposed) $250,000 investment to be recommended by Twitter would pay off in as many views as a 30-second ad for the Super Bowl – and at the end of that process, you would have a big mailing list, rather than just a press release.

I have not included stills from his PowerPoint as I did with previous clips from this speech. The presentation is available at SlideShare, if you want to see it.

While I am happy bordering on ecstatic to see someone at least thinking about inventing new ad models, I think that Jason kinda contradicts what he said earlier about ads being unwelcome on social media sites.  He had us convinced in the first half of the speech that advertising is useless on Facebook, and then he shows off a classic intrusive movie trailer that you have to sit through before you can log into your home page.  Not sure I agree with him on this – even though he leads the audience through an exercise to see how many people would be willing to jettison their Facebook or Twitter usage if it starts getting crammed with ads.

Well, first of all, you’re talking to an audience of advertisers and marketers.  People who voluntarily watch & applaud for ads. 

I think the reactions of a younger, more anti-authoritarian audience might be a little different.  Yeah, the 14-24 y.o. males might kick & screech a bit about the corporate bastards who are slowing down their SuperPokes of the new hottie in homeroom, and then in a few weeks, calm down and accept the new ad-heavy paradigm.

Or – they’ll use Facebook to organize themselves and perform a mass exodus to some other social media platform (Hi5 – this is your opportunity knocking!) and Zuck‘s beautiful baby will have its value utterly destroyed in a matter of months.  It’s happened before.  It will probably happen again.

nnnnn

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